Lonely Planet Writer

Disco Inferno - 25,000 people get ready to dance under the world’s biggest disco ball in Leeds

Glitter, drama and dance. That’s what the organisers behind Leeds’ Big Disco event hope the world’s biggest disco ball will bring to the city on 1 July, when a massive one-off street party is held as part of Yorkshire Festival. The aim? To set a record for the world’s biggest disco in the north of England.

Leeds aims for disco ball world record
Leeds aims for disco ball world record. Image by Victor Frankowsk

So far 10,000 people have signed up to dance to the same tune at the exact same moment across Yorkshire, but the organisers need at least 25,000 to set a record. Seven thousand tickets are on sale for the anchor event in Leeds and the elaborate glitterthon is going to be streamed live. The disco ball was created for the Isle of Wight music festival Bestival in 2014, but has never been seen on the UK mainland. It measures 10.3m in diameter and is two-and- a-half times the size of a double-decker bus. The Leeds-based company who created it, New Substance is a global show-design specialist that was responsible for the opening ceremony at the inaugural European Games, held in Baku in 2015.

Giant disco ball comes to Leeds for fundraising party.
Giant disco ball comes to Leeds for fundraising party.

At exactly 7.20pm on 1 July, the gigantic silver orb will be hoisted skywards and a dance tune chosen by the public will be belted out. The shortlist of possible songs was picked by music industry professionals such as Fat Boy Slim and voting is open until mid-June on the Big Disco website. Next week the website will also launch a ‘virtual disco ball’ that has been built using WebGL technology, enabling site visitors to input their postcode and see what the giant disco ball would look like in situ in their home town.

The not-for- profit party, which was conceived partly to support Leeds’ bid for European Capital of Culture in 2023, will be hosted by Duke Studios – a cafe–bar and creative workspace on the fringe of Leeds’ city centre. ‘It’s going to be a Brooklyn/Berlin street party vibe with DJs on the roof of our building,’ says Laura Wellington, the Duke co-founder who dreamed up the idea. Bars will be brought in in shipping containers, Leeds Carnival is going to do a pop-up and there’ll be street food. Duke is encouraging fancy dress and, in typical disco fashion, wants to have ‘glitterisation stations’ and ‘disco ball wranglers’ who will twirl the orb. As Laura puts it: ‘We want people to feel they’ve been part of something completely magical.’