It’s almost time for the World’s Largest Disco, Buffalo’s annual post-Thanksgiving tribute to Disco Era. What few of the 7,000 attendees are likely to know is that a WNY manufacturing company played a prominent role in the disco craze and you can see their products every time you watch Saturday Night Fever with John Travolta.
Litelab Corporation, located on Elm Street in downtown Buffalo, was founded in 1975 by Paul Gregory and Rick Spaulding to provide lighting products for disco. The company’s lighting controllers “quickly became a disco standard due to the combination of cost, ease of installation and operation,” according to lighting designer Marsha Stern. “They had excellent marketing as well, and their early claim to fame was being the system used to control the famous dance floor in the movie Saturday Night Fever.” A key component of the film, and the piece that would ultimately become as iconic as the lead characters themselves, this legendary dance floor has since become an important icon of pop culture. Litelab went on to supply most of the world’s major disco clubs, too.
When disco waned in the mid-1980s, LiteLab turned its attention and technical capabilities to museums and high-end retail opportunities. Today, LiteLab Lighting Systems can be found from the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the Pace Gallery in Beijing and from Louis Vuitton in Singapore to Porsche Showrooms throughout the United States. Now in its fifth decade, LiteLab is not only “Stayin’ Alive,” it is still “Hot Stuff!”