Is It the New Disco Ball?

Neil Sater’s Aurora dramatically updates the nightclub focal point

At rest, it looks like a priceless sculpture. Or an avant-garde birdcage. Or the world’s largest Christmas tree ornament. But artist/sculptor Neil Sater’s Aurora could very well replace the disco ball as the new heart and soul of nightclubs around the world. And soon! Custom-made in about three months at the artist’s studio in Solvang, Calif., the Aurora is a spinning metal sculpture—“kinetic art,” Sater says—based on the spirals of DNA. The design proportions are flexible, allowing the artist to fashion the chandelier-style or pedestaled pieces on a grand scale (think 90 feet tall at the center of a Strip casino’s fountains or with acrobats inside during a Cirque show) or petite, such as 12-inch tabletop lamps. But the Aurora will most likely make its debut in a Vegas nightclub in the place of honor traditionally held by the disco ball.

And like that shimmering nightlife icon, Sater’s Aurora spins (slowly or up to 35 mph) while club lights play off its brushed stainless steel blades. “It’s the idea of painting on the wall, and the pattern of light and shadows it creates in the space,” explains worldwide director of sales Chris Ian Garlington. “Whoever gets this in Vegas will be the first in the world with one.” Already, one local club is said to be mulling over a purchase of three.

“All the biggest, best stuff is found in Vegas,” the artist says, “so that seems like a natural place to start.”

At a recent private demonstration downtown, Blush/Surrender/Encore Beach Club resident DJ Freddy B worked the speed controls while local gallery owner Brett Sperry assumed control of the colored lights.

“The bare space in between the blades blurs and looks like liquid,” Freddy observed.

“Hypnotic,” Sperry declared.

The Aurora, whose features can include colored lights, strobes, fog, lasers and even water, began life as a water feature. In fact, it was first called the Portal until the artist noted how the light show it creates resembles the Aurora Borealis, nature’s own light show.

“The first thing that came to mind was the first time I walked into XS and saw the disco chandelier replacing the disco ball,” Freddy B says. Perhaps that’s the evolution: disco ball to disco chandelier to Aurora. Sperry seems to think so, because it takes club lighting to “a whole other level.” As it should, because the disco ball has not kept pace with modern nightclub lighting and technology. It’s an icon for a bygone era, and Sater says, “We want the Aurora to be the icon for a new era.”

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