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Shining a Light on the Iconic 60s: A Look Back at the Dazzling Lights of an Era

The Significance of Lighting in the 60s

The 60s were a revolutionary time in many ways – from the civil rights movement to the sexual revolution, it was a decade of change and progression. Lighting played a crucial role in this era, shaping the way people experienced music, dance, theater, and even protests.

One of the most notable examples of lighting in the 60s was the psychedelic light show. These shows, created using slide projectors, oil wheels, and other projections, were often featured at concerts, discos, and other events in the counterculture scene. They were used to enhance the music, create a sense of immersion, and transport the audience to another world.

But it wasn’t just the counterculture that embraced dramatic lighting. The mainstream entertainment industry also used lighting in innovative ways. For example, the musical Hair used strobe lights to create a disorienting effect during the song “Electric Blues” and lit the stage with black lights during the song “Hashish” to create a trippy, otherworldly feel.

The Evolution of Lighting Technology in the 60s

The 60s were a time of great innovation and advancement in the field of lighting technology. One of the most significant developments was the introduction of the PAR can, or Parabolic Aluminized Reflector. This new type of light had a more concentrated beam and greater flexibility than traditional stage lights, allowing lighting designers to create more complex and dynamic effects.

LED technology was also first developed in the 60s. While it wasn’t yet widely used in lighting applications at the time, it would go on to revolutionize the industry in the decades to come.

Another notable advance in lighting technology during the 60s was the development of electronic dimming. Before this, lighting had to be adjusted manually using filters or by physically moving the lights themselves. With electronic dimming, lighting designers could control the intensity of the light from a central console, making it much easier to create intricate lighting effects.

Political and Social Movements

In addition to its use in entertainment, lighting played an important role in political and social movements of the 60s. For example, protesters often used spotlights to draw attention to their demonstrations, while police used floodlights to disperse crowds.

Perhaps the most iconic use of lighting in a protest setting was during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. As police officers clashed with protesters outside the convention, a group of activists inside the convention hall raised candles and turned off the lights in a symbolic gesture of solidarity with the protesters outside.

The Legacy of 60s Lighting

Today, the innovations and developments of 60s lighting continue to influence the way we experience art and entertainment. The use of dynamic and immersive lighting has become a staple of live performances, and LED technology has become ubiquitous in everything from home lighting to giant displays.

But the legacy of 60s lighting goes beyond just technology – it represents a time of creativity, experimentation, and social progress. It was a time when people used light to enhance and augment their experiences, to create new forms of expression and to challenge the status quo.

In many ways, the lights of the 60s continue to shine on today, reminding us of the transformative power of innovation and creativity.

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