Dancing in the dark: New York club turns lights out for show

Source:AFP Published: 2017/5/14 16:53:39

With flashy lights and lasers increasingly the norm at concerts, a New York promoter is trying a new effect to bring the focus back to the music - darkness.

In an experiment Friday night, more than 300 electronic music fans surrendered their smartphones to dance in a light-sealed room as their senses recalibrated to the audio.

After an initial hour of moderate lighting while a DJ warmed up the crowd with dance-friendly house music, the stage turned black except for a single light-bulb during the main set by Eprom, whose tracks are heavy on bass yet experimental with quirky melodic riffs.

"We want people to be less distracted by shiny objects and more focused on what the actual product is. A concert is all about the music," said Jay Rogovin, executive adviser of the Good Looks Collective entertainment agency, which put on the inaugural "LightsOut" show.

Hoping to startle the senses further, the LightsOut show jarringly flashed red strobe lights at several points to remind the crowd of the darkness.

The setting appeared to loosen inhibitions, with a number of club-goers throwing their arms in the air with a joyful abandon that may have otherwise been hampered by self-consciousness.

As proof of how difficult the zero-distraction concept can be, at least one person smuggled in a phone and, as is commonplace at shows, spent the night messaging friends.

Fans were asked upon arrival to deposit their phones in pouches developed by the start-up firm Yondr.

Although they were allowed to keep the phones, the devices remained locked inside until they exited, when the staff opened the bags using technology similar to the security tags at department stores.

Despite the theme, the club was hardly pitch-black and no one groped in the dark.

Besides an illuminated red emergency exit, required by law, light seeped in from the hallway as well as the bathrooms, and the bartender also kept on several desk-lamps.

The minimal lighting was no oversight, Rogovin said. The promoters believed maintaining some light important for safety reasons to keep people from tripping over one another.

Dark concerts have also started in Britain, where the Blackout show brought experimental music with no lights in 2016.

Although Rogovin plans more New York shows and hopes to take the series elsewhere, he is under no illusion that he stands on the brink of an anti-MTV revolution.

He doubts dark concerts could accommodate more than 600 people because of logistics and safety concerns.

Posted in: DANCE

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