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Lighting to improve the atmosphere in Night Clubs and Discotheques - why does it work?
Does it make it  better?

Can it make a venue more successful?
Why does a club need a good LD, lighting operator and VJ? 


I was asked a few questions by a student who had asked the following questions to many industry professionals, including some of the market's leading entertainment lighting companies and university lecturers and was unable to get the answers.

The questions were...

Why does lighting have such a massive effect on the atmosphere in night clubs, discotheques and other venues when used in conjunction with music or sound effects?

Why in general do night clubs with smaller installation or poor design and programming suffer to night clubs with good installation and programming?


I can only give a personal opinion here - no official scientific research carried out.

I would love to hear any for and against opinions on this subject and theory.


The reason there appears to be no obvious answer is because it is psychological.

Basically, we are triggering 3 of our 5 known senses in time and rhythm.

Those senses being...

  • Hearing - Music/Sound
  • Touch - Vibration from sound systems especially bass systems.
  • Sight - Lighting and Visual effects.
  • Smell - NA. It is possible that the smell sense is triggered but not in rhythm so it is not applicable here.
  • Taste - It is possible that the taste sense is triggered but not in rhythm so it is not applicable here.


These are all frequencies to the brain. We relate to sound and vibration frequencies but light is also interpreted as a frequency too (light frequency).  These all stimulate the brain together at the same time and in rhythm.  

It is not always the case that the lighting and/or visuals have to be amazing,  but it is quite often the case that if it has been done badly it can have a negative effect that we are subconciously unaware of. This can affect our mood. Sometimes it's so bad we become consciously aware. A good example of this is over use of high impact effects. Strobes or lasers are great effects and very high impact but over use can create a very unsettling environment,  cause headaches, migraines , increased stress levels, anxiety and in extreme cases fitting, However, limited use at precisely the right time can create hair raising looks, having the opposite effect.


Colours. We will touch on colors here.  More detail on colours psychology will follow in a later post.
Colour is often used to help influence mental states and moods. How these are used is also very important.
Just to touch the surface on this one, ask anyone if Blue is a hot or cold colour, is Red a hot or cold colour and I'm sure you will always get the same answers.
Hospitals often are often associated with green.  The use of pastel green or blue paint on the walls is just the start. Green is thought to be a calming earthly colour and has also been related to growth and recovery. Blues are also thought to have smiler calming effects.


To help further back up this theory,  If you hear a song you like one of the first things you do is to turn it up.
We all know why we do this, because it always seems better louder, we seem to enjoy it more.
So... is this because the louder it is the more chance it has of stimulating the touch sense (vibration)?  It's well documented that deafness Doesn't stop you from enjoying and wanting to dance to music.
This could explain why music sounds better in a club because its often stimulating the sound and touch senses where quite often you would only stimulate hearing in your normal environment.
So by stimulating sound, touch and visual senses all in time, would be the next stage on from turning it up? There all just frequencies to the brain...

So that's my  theory and brings us on to...


Why does a club need a good LD, lighting operator and VJ?

Taking into account the above, a good lighting operator and VJ with a well designed system will have a positive impact on your venue / event. 
A well designed system with poor operators can have a negative effect, for most people they will never actually give you a solid reason why they like venue / event  'A' over  'B' "It s a better atmosphere" 

If you think you DJ can run the lighting please remember the triggers are likely to be of beat, bit like letting off a firework rocket with no bang, just doesn't have the same impact.  


We would love to hear any feedback or experiences you have regarding this subject.

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