This object has significance in material culture due to its role in the 'Let's Party' segment of the closing ceremony of the 2000 Olympic Games, an important event in the recent history of Sydney and NSW. It has the potential to communicate in exhibitions and publications about the Sydney Olympic Games and has significance in its design, making, use and in the cultural meanings ascribed to it.
The closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games took place on Sunday 1 October at Stadium Australia, Homebush Bay. It included solemn formalities, an informal parade of athletes and a farewell party that took the form of an unregimented parade with floats that celebrated and often mocked aspects of Australian popular culture. The intention was to conduct the ceremony with decorum until the extinction of the Olympic flame, and then to unleash a party. The artistic director of the closing ceremony David Atkins explained 'The athletes have finished competition, and are ready to party, and we have set about creating a party to end all parties. We have decided to invite everyone into our giant Australian backyard - fully equipped with Hills Hoists, barbecues, an eclectic mix of music, performers and all manner of Australiana. Australians have a tradition of throwing great parties, and this one will be imbued with a sense of fun, larrikinism and goodwill.' According to Ric Birch (speaking on Channel 7's 'Olympic Sunrise'), the opening ceremony was to represent Australia at large, but the closing ceremony was Sydney's show.
This gigantic (1.5m diameter) mirror ball is one that appeared on the arena shortly after the start of the 'Let's Party' segment, when the ceremony erupted into life and the less formal part of the celebrations took off in a uniquely Australian style. After Vanessa Amorosi's performance of 'Absolutely Everybody', the arena was transformed into a huge dance-floor as 960 ballroom dancing couples in fluorescent costumes danced the samba, tango and jive to the beat of John Paul Young singing 'Love is in the Air'. Although there was no direct allusion to the film 'Strictly Ballroom', the link was implied. The dancers were accompanied by 208 giant dancing feet and an incongruous assembly of oversized kewpie dolls while in mid-field the athletes formed a huge conga line.
As the ceremony unfolded the proliferation of suburban images such as Hills Hoists, blowflies, lifesavers and thongs was treated with self- deprecating irony rather than clich‚. The wit and quality of the 'Parade of Icons' showed the influence of the late Peter Tully as artistic director of the Mardi Gras in, for example, the 'pit chicks' in silver hot pants who carried the eyelashes, stiletto shoes and giant mascara for the Priscilla bus.
The opening ceremony told a mythic story of nation-building that dwarfed individuals. It was evocative and subtle. The closing ceremony, however, celebrated personality, celebrity and attitude. Loud and brash, more like a rock concert than a profoundly theatrical event, it was an extravagant send-off -- fun, festive, shamelessly excessive and, for an international audience, decidedly weird.
Mirror balls are used to create a glitter effect by reflecting light from their multifaceted mirror surface. Effects lighting was used long before the first discotheques appeared in the 1960s, but the exact origin of the mirror ball remains a mystery. Before World War II it was discovered that shining a light on a ball covered with small mirrors will produce one beam off each mirror. One of the earliest uses of mirror balls in film can be seen in Humphrey Bogart's 1942 classic 'Casablanca'. When discotheques became popular the mirror ball was adopted as an effect. Although often associated with the disco heyday of the 1970s, the mirror ball or 'disco ball' is still in use on today's dance floors, adding a touch of ostentatious fun and excitement. Motors are available for mirror balls in both clockwise and anti-clockwise rotational movement.