Disco Inferno

Saturday Night Fever hits East Campus.

Oct 1, 2005

They claim they did it to escape stress, not to bring disco back into style.

But last January, Grant Elliott ‘06, Schuyler Senft-Grupp ‘06, Scott Torborg ‘07, Mike Anderson ‘08, and dozens of other volunteers built a 12-square-meter computerized light floor for the Disco Ball, which was to conclude East Campus’s Bad Ideas competition. The floor is divided into 512 glowing squares, lit from within by LEDs that can create 4,096 different color combinations. The engineers use a laptop to communicate with a microprocessor embedded in the floor, which converts their commands into pure dance magic. The light show can swirl in preprogrammed patterns or pulsate in time with whatever song is playing.

Although the dance floor was built for just a single party, its creators hope it will become a permanent feature of East Campus. After all, building it took three labor-intensive weeks, 1,536 LEDs, $2,500, and 20,000 hand-soldered connections. The floor has been so popular that the students are now selling versions of the circuit boards responsible for its 21st-century sophistication. The students say they’re looking forward to making a sequel, but still maintain that they’re really not trying to bring disco back. Really. – By Catherine Nichols

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