meeting people (with a frisson of apprehension), listening to new music, having a drink or two and catching those sparkles of joy, this has been a spring to remember for many of us.
HERO DISCO BALL
photography of a mirror ball at milwaukee hospital in 1912 © courtesy wisconsin historical society
but it was louis bernard woeste, who claimed 1917 an official patent for a 'myriad reflector' and sold it with the text: "... dancing fireflies of a thousand hues." wouste's reflectors popped up at jazz clubs and circuses, measuring around 60cm in diameter and covered in over 1.000 tiny mirrors. an early motion picture example can be seen in 'berlin - die sinfonie der großstadt', a german silent film from 1927, and a must watch.
between the 40s and 50s the ball was picked up by omage national in kentucky, which had experience making flexible mirrored sheets for art deco furniture, however it wasn't until the 1970s with the arrival of a new wave of nightlife called 'disco' and the ball would spin late into the night at clubs like studio 54, truly taking over the world. a real slow burn hit.
omega was the main supplier at that time. a team of 25 women lead by yolanda baker would make 25 balls each day by hand. a 120cm model would sell for $4.000, roughly €20.000 in today's money.
baker still makes disco balls.
photography of yolanda 'yo yo' baker at omega © courtesy richard mazola / omega national products llc
photograpy © agi raw, @raw.home.interior
from the miniature glitter balls that are on rear view mirrors to liberace's grand piano, the disco ball look is resilient and adaptable.
U2 featured a huge lemon disco ball on their 1997-1998 'popmart' tour, and madonna had a 2-tonne glitter ball decorated with $2 million worth of swarovski crystals for her 'confessions' tour in 2006.
in 2020 nike launched disco ball 'air jordans' and in 2021 kelley wearstler issued limited edition melted disco balls.
there is even a rotating disco ball pizza oven at the pizzeria 'disco volante' in vienna.
a sound that reflects the high times of the disco ball.
enjoy and dance.