Boston's Club Avalon Gets Groovy for Goldmember
Richard Worboys, twice the winner of the UK Light Jockey competition, is resident lighting designer at the Avalon dance club in Boston. "Our club was voted number one dance club by Mixer magazine," he says. Avalon's big nights are Fridays, which are called "Avaland." "It's probably one of the biggest club nights in America," Worboys continues. "We've had practically every big DJ here on a Friday night. It's a big night--we get about 4,000 in total come in."
Avalon keeps its top status by constantly offering clubgoers new thrills. "We have different themes every week," the LD explains. "Some weeks it's a stage set and some weeks we get extra lighting. We replicated Stonehenge one week, we did a pirate ship, we did a Pearl Harbor theme. We did Wizard of Oz--we built a 25' working tornado. It looked like a tornado, it rotated, we had bicycles flying around--just crazy."
Recently, the Goldmember promotion company approached Avalon to host the movie's premiere party in Boston, which featured giveaways like free preview passes. Naturally, the club decided to go with a mod, psychedelic set design, and Worboys took the opportunity to bring in some extra lighting, in the form of Vari*Lite automated luminaires. "It's obvious to use the theme of Austin Powers," Worboys says, "and it led to using the Vari*Lites because of the gobo projection. The standard gobos fit in very well for the event."
Avalon's in-house production company built a stage set with the DJ front and center with go-go dancer platforms on each side. The Boston office of High Output supplied 10 Vari*Lite fixtures. "We had four of the VL2202s and six of the VL1000s. The 2202s were placed around the DJ, one on either side and two just above his head behind him, like a shrine around him, and the VL1000s were placed on a truss about 20' above him." Worboys usually turns to High Output for any special lighting needs. "I have a good relationship with them, so when I do special things I normally go through them."
Each week is a new challenge: Worboys' turnaround time is usually "about two days," he says. "We normally start the project on a Thursday, deciding where to put things, and, because we're open Thursday night as well, if we do anything special, we close off the stage area and start building the set, but sometimes we don't even start until Friday. It all depends on what's going on in the club that week. It's a team of us, we install the lights, where it's possible, in the set so that it's wired up, then get a couple hours to program it, and then the fun starts at night making it look good."
For this party, Worboys used the Vari*Lites to program the show like a concert. "Obviously, the club light system is all around, we have moving trusses, etc. This show enabled us to, at certain points of the night, completely turn off our light system and just use the Vari*Lites as a stage show, lighting up the dancers, the DJ, and then panning out to the crowd for some amazing aerial shots. The club is full of smoke, so you see the lights go forever. If you stand at the other end of the club, what you see in the air is just incredible."
In addition to the gobos, the LD made use of the colors in the Vari*Lite units, which he really likes. "There's a lot of great blues and purples, the cyan really sticks out. I just used all the colors in the lights and took advantage of the color-mixing in the VL1000s to accent the colors in the 2202s." He thinks the Vari*Lites work very well in a club atmosphere. "It's definitely a different situation from a concert. In a more smoky atmosphere you can make different looks with the lights. I think they were very impressive, especially from the balcony." He also says the customers "definitely noticed the difference. From now on I've got to start building more stage sets like that."
Worboys uses the ShowCAD control system. "I brought it over with me from England. (I moved over here two years ago.) It's a PC-based system, controlled via MIDI, and I use MIDI keyboards and MIDI fader panels, which basically link the lights and laser and video systems all together." He also controlled the Vari*Lites with this setup. "It's a great controller," he concludes. "It's very well designed for clubs."