Electric Zoo has ended

Aaron Gonsher

Aaron Gonsher is the former editor-in-chief of the Red Bull Music Academy and has worked in electronic music and media for the last decade. As a journalist, he's interviewed artists ranging from Jeff Mills and Joan La Barbara to Moor Mother and Meredith Monk, and has reported on subjects including the Loft's 50th anniversary, Starck Club in Dallas, the secret history of the greatest remix that never actually happened, and the intersection of house music and religion. He currently works with the Glaswegian record label and creative collective Numbers.

Aaron Gonsher, “The Saint Planetarium Projector's Journey Through Space and Time"

From 1980 - 1988, there were celestial experiences happening weekly at the Saint nightclub in New York. Installed in the center of a dancefloor filled with thousands of gay men dancing to the innovative DJ sets of Roy Thode, Jim Burgess, Alan Dodd, Sharon White, Robbie Leslie, and many others, was the Spitz STP, a state-of-the-art "Space Transit Projector" that unveiled its constellations during musical peaks to roaring approval. It was a ritual connecting Manhattan to the Milky Way, a flash of extraterrestrial bliss illuminating earthly desires during a decade of physical deterioration. Then the Saint shut its doors, and the projector disappeared. Until now.

Why is this projector so important to the story of the Saint, and how can we interpret its lasting symbolic significance? What about it is so representative of lighting design's power to transform a nightclub's spatial and emotional impact? How does the device still contain embodied memories of the era? And how can the current caretaker's lessons from its recovery and painstaking restoration inspire future generations of nightlife archivists?

In a 20-minute presentation, I will discuss the projector's provenance, history, original impact, and journey from dominance to disappearance to resurrection. Incorporating my own original research alongside rare documentation of the restored projector, I will explore its exemplary status as a relic of club culture, its relevance to wider issues facing the preservation of similar objects, and its place within a rich lineage of lighting design as an essential pillar of club culture.