Disco Inferno

I want it bad. I recently discovered a friend of mine owns a club-sized disco ball — at least 20 inches in diameter. He let me gaze upon its mirrored fabulousness in its snug and carefully packed box. In his previous house, he had a room large enough and with a high enough ceiling to have an electrician install it with a rotating motor, two lights shining on it, a dimmer switch, and a remote control. I was at once filled with envy, wonder, awe, and then came promptly back to envy.

Although I am a long-time proponent of urban small living spaces, as I ogled this shining ball of desire, I suddenly felt a change of a heart towards suburban McMansions with big empty rooms, polished wood floors, and high ceilings.

When my friend moved to his current place he took the ball with him. Who wouldn’t? But there isn’t enough space to install it and now he’s been cleaning out and is having a hard time deciding if he should keep it or let it go. Again, who wouldn’t? As I lusted for that dreamy orb, I scanned my brain for any friends who 1) had enough room for a giant disco ball and 2) are crazy enough and love me enough to install it just for me.

It’s a super short list.

Even shorter than when I was trying to find a home for my buffet, which only had one person on it. So I gazed at the ball intently, and while my fingertips caressed the perfect little mirrored squares of complete happiness, I realized with a start that in that moment I would have swapped a home library for a disco ball room.

For many years I dreamed of having a library in that way you say, “When I get a house/condo/apartment, I want to have a library with built-in bookshelves.” And then life has a way of making you realize that if you are a city person in the Boston area who is not independently wealthy, you’ll be lucky if you can get a place with a normal closet that fits 20 outfits hanging sideways, rather than a circa 1910 eight-inch indent in the wall that has a door and fits exactly three articles of clothing that face you. Or maybe one winter coat. So I had to let that dream go.

But this sphere of eternal fractured light was going to be a lot harder to relinquish.

Oh sure, I get to see a disco ball when I go dancing on Sundays, but I have to ask myself, is that really enough disco ball time? As I look around in my middle age, knowing now is the time to decide what’s truly important and worthwhile in life, do I really want to spend the rest of my days in a place that doesn’t have a dedicated disco ball room? With a rotating motor, two lights, a dimmer switch, and a remote control? Hell no.

I have started disco dancing in my kitchen on Saturday mornings for exercise if it’s too cold to walk on the beach, so maybe I could install it in my kitchen. But then I remembered I have ridiculously low seven-and-a-half-foot ceilings, and the tile floors don’t lend themselves to dancing on my knees.

I suppose I could try an extreme compromise — my coworker had a small, desk model disco ball she used with her grandkids. It was one of the first things I said to her when we met. I started my job while she was on vacation, and I can’t remember how I found out about the disco ball, but once I did, I knew we’d get along. When she returned from vacation, I said something like, “Hi, I’m Sandy the new communications person, and I heard you have a disco ball.” It’s a credit to her that she decided to befriend me anyway.

My books have managed to make their peace with not having a library and seem content enough to be on book shelves in my living room and bedroom. Although there may be some discontent brewing, as a stealthy pile of them has begun appearing on my coffee table and on a shelf under my TV. Nonetheless, perhaps I could be OK without a 20-inch disco ball with a rotating motor, two lights, a dimmer switch, and a remote control. Maybe I could make do with a small rotating disco ball that makes dancing seem somewhat festive in a lame kind of way, and will never, ever compare to the real thing.

Or maybe I could just store the real thing for 18 months until my son goes off to college. Who wouldn’t want their bedroom turned into a giant disco ball hall? College kids like to sleep on the couch anyway, right? That’s the way, uh huh, uh huh, I like it.


  1. LOL “…rather than a circa 1910 eight-inch indent in the wall that has a door and fits exactly three articles of clothing that face you.” Right? What’s that about, anyway? Were people flat at the turn of the century?

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