Mirror balls have been used to create atmosphere in dancehalls and nightclubs for almost a century, and became synonymous with the ‘70s disco explosion. Dance Studio Vol. 1, the latest new addition to the nightlife scene in Chicago’s River North neighbourhood, takes this lighting staple to a new level by filling the ceiling above its dancefloor completely with ADJ mirror balls of various sizes.

The new nightclub and event space is a renovation of the dearly departed Studio Paris, which closed in January 2019 after an eight-year run. With a totally redesigned interior, Dance Studio Vol. 1 is a 350-person venue that hosts live music, DJs and ‘surprise entertainment’. It features an awe-inspiring lighting system that was designed and installed by Craft Lighting, a Chicago-based AV design and integration company.

Craft Lighting supplied and installed a total of 470 ADJ mirror balls of different sizes, hanging them at various heights to create a sea of glass facets above the heads of dancers. A mixture of standard 8-inch, 12-inch, 16-inch and 20-inch balls were combined with three of ADJ’s huge 40-inch units to create a truly dazzling, eye-catching installation which surrounds a moving light package consisting of fixtures from ADJ’s sister company Elation Professional.

“The mirror ball installation sprung from conversations and design explorations with the client,” explained Noah Craft, Owner and Lead Designer for Craft Lighting. “They were exploring visual themes for this project that relied on repeating patterns/textures and wanted to evoke feelings of nostalgia and pay homage to dance and nightlife of years past. Because we were dealing with very limited ceiling heights, we explored some creative options to add more visual interest using mirror balls and other reflective surfaces to play with. At a certain point within the design process, the client asked if it were feasible to fill the entire dancefloor with mirror balls of varying sizes. The largest challenge with this was the extremely tight timeline directly ahead of the Christmas holiday. However, with the help of the ADJ team and our reps at Pro Media Marketing, we were able to procure all of the equipment in a timely manner and complete the installation on schedule.”

In addition to the Elation Professional DARTZ 360 and Fuze Wash Z120 moving heads that are scattered throughout the ceiling mingled with the mirror balls, Craft Lighting also supplied 24 of ADJ’s Pinspot LED Quad DMX fixtures. These compact units each feature an efficient 8-Watt quad colour LED source which is focussed into a sharp 15º beam. Offering DMX control and full RGBW colour mixing, these robust fixtures are ideal for illuminating mirror balls.

“The Pinspot LED Quad DMX units were a clear choice due to their compact size, price point, and dimming / colour mixing abilities. They allow the lighting operator to have a secondary set of lighting effects running on the mirror ball array without always needing to sacrifice fixtures from the main moving light package.”

While many of the mirror balls filling the ceiling are static, Noah and his team also installed 61 ADJ motorised rotators to add additional movement to the lightshow. These are connected to a collection of 10 ADJ DP 415R DMX dimmer/switch packs that are used as relays, allowing the lighting operator to control different sections of motors. This, combined with the colour mixing pin spots and moving head beam and wash fixtures, makes for a lightshow that is both unique and visually engaging.

The installation perfectly fulfills the client’s design brief; it gives a very significant nod to the nightlife scene of decades past, while having a distinctly modern feel. The mirror ball array, in particular, has a huge visual impact on the space that draws patrons to the dancefloor and is an extremely photogenic element which contributes positively to the venue’s social media presence.