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LED Lighting for the Country Club of Augusta
Lighting the Country Club


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 Light Jockey

 
LED Lighting for Augusta's Premeire Nightlife Venue: The Country Club of Augusta
 

The ART of Country: The Ultra Saloon
Satisfying the Country Bar's Diverse Audience with LEDs
Lighting Dialogue by Jack Kelly | Photography by Jack Kelly
June 2009 | The Country Club of Augusta | Augusta GA

LED Lighting for the Country Club of AugustaLED Lighting for the Country Club of AugustaLED Lighting for the Country Club of AugustaLED Lighting for the Country Club of Augusta

NEW Lighting Equipment
143 Color Kinetics iColor Cove
7 Color Kinetics PDS-150e
18 Chauvet 200B
23 Chauvet Rain64
5 Chauvet ColorStrip
4 Chauvet Double Derby

2 Chauvet Scorpian RGX
Martin Light Jockey

Existing Lighting Equipment
8 Elation Power Wash
14 Elation Power Spot
Global Truss

LED Lighting for the Country Club of AugustaLED Lighting for the Country Club of AugustaLED Lighting for the Country Club of AugustaLED Lighting for the Country Club of Augusta

The age of the purist is fading. When I think of Country, everything from electronica to hip-hop from folk to rock enters into the equation. While creating something fresh, the purist is up against the great artist of the past- Johnny Cash, Miles Davis, Frank Lloyd Wright, just to name a few. Taking on the greats head to head is a daunting insurmountable dream. To achieve notoriety as a purist, the artist must be significantly better or they will get written off as a talented carbon copy. This conundrum has pushed the creative mind to fuse concepts and styles to create new forms.

The difficulty is, while creating something new the core elements of the style must remain otherwise the identity of the design is lost. In other words, if you are designing a country bar, the clients must still see a country bar when the design is complete or they will go find another country bar. The Country Club of Augusta is a fusion venue starting with line dancing early in the evening continuing with live country centered rock finishing with full blown dance club in the early morning. Rikki T, their resident DJ, approached me at Night Club and Bar in Vegas wanting an easy-to-use lighting controller to replace their current unit as well as suggestions for an improved stage washes. He needed something he could intuitively modify on the fly. I introduced him to Martin Light Jockey and visited the venue to suggest improvements for the stage wash.

LED Lighting for the Country Club of AugustaLED Lighting for the Country Club of AugustaLED Lighting for the Country Club of Augusta

The owner of the Country Club has many successful ventures in Augusta. Well respected in the community and among his staff, he has consistently set the standard for marketing and entertainment. Starting with stage improvements, he asks if I would make suggestions for the entire space.

Analyzing the space, I loved the feel. The Country Club captures the heart of country. Rough cut wood covers all vertical surfaces. The bar design is in the form of traditional beach front shacks as romanticized in the Buffett version of the country/beach style. The dance floor is the lowest space in the building with VIP zones at different levels throughout the space. The levels make great gathering spaces for connecting friends as well as providing great visibility throughout the building to watch the party. Very well designed and constructed, Eye Dialogue’s task was to take them to the next evolution of country, the Ultra Saloon.

LED Lighting for the Country Club of AugustaLED Lighting for the Country Club of Augusta

The Ultra Saloon concept was the natural cultural evolution as the popularity of the Ultra Lounge exploded at the turn of the millennia. The light brown of pine and other common construction mediums is a great reflector for lighting. In club culture, venues have to constantly reinvent their format through entertainment choices, events, and interior design or they will lose their client base to the new venues which pop up regularly in metropolitan markets. The simple addition of lighting can transform a space without costly construction upgrades. Many venues, looking to tap into the new youth of country, began exploring technology centered improvements for their space. The more progressive lighting systems keep the youth interested, discouraging their migration to electronic dance halls and top 40 clubs. However, the critics and traditionalist dislike the dark seedy nature of the drug culture clientele attached to dance club style design preferring the friendly and more illuminated style of tradition Country venues. The LED revolution has provided a dynamic visual display through color transitions, satisfying the more demanding technology generation and providing adequate illumination for the conversational style of traditional country.

Removing the neons is the first move and also a scary one. In most bars, much of the ambient light comes from neons. Neons bring attention to alcohol branding which is good. Many times it also directs the client’s attention away from the bar to the wall which is less desirable. Moving away from equal unintentional lighting, a wise designer will use light to control the clients focus increasing visibility of entertainment and sales, and decreasing distractions. Three elements in every entertainment venue need to be lit. First and most obvious is the stage. What is point of having performers if no one can see them? The performers should be the most identifiable person in the room. Second is the bar. Many venues spend a fortune on furniture and details but neglect the only post-cover form of income. The bar should always be the most dynamic architectural element in the building. The last space is the dance floor. Many times I hear the dancers want this or that. I immediately point out; lighting is for the voyeurs not the dancers. No one likes lights in their eyes. It’s annoying. But most dancers want everyone to see how good they are or how well they are dressed, otherwise they would dance in the privacy of their own home or the dark corner of the room. The people watchers want to see everyone interesting but don’t want to be seen. This doesn’t mean dark and light this means light and more light. Treat the dance floor like a stage and all parties go satisfied.

LED Lighting for the Country Club of AugustaLED Lighting for the Country Club of AugustaLED Lighting for the Country Club of Augusta
For the fixture choice in the current market, price is everything. B-Stock and Quality substitutions are the par. In recent years, Chauvet has sky rocketed into the lighting market with their touring quality LED Colorado fixtures. Following suit, they have satisfied the LED wash customer base with their entry level LEDsplash Jr ($80) all the way to their LED canon, the Colorado 2 ($1900). We choose to use a combination of mid-level lines the LEDrain and their most popular fixture the COLORstrip. The 23 narrow beams of the LEDrain provided the dynamic definition we needed for the stage wash. The front truss was located less than three feet horizontally from the edge of stage. The COLORstrips lined the front truss washing the stage edge. Finishing the stage 4 Elation Moving Spots lined the back of stage creating dynamic beam effects through the stage and into the crowd. 2 Elation Moving Washes we used for back lights on the band and the final two were placed on the sides to cross wash the musicians.
LED Lighting for the Country Club of AugustaLED Lighting for the Country Club of AugustaLED Lighting for the Country Club of Augusta

The hardest task was to raise the truss. Due to HVAC and sprinkler locations the previous company decided to rig the truss at the HVAC/sprinkler height. This decision put the fixtures around 9 feet above stage, making the front section of the truss fixtures like singing to a freight train. Eliminating one section of the truss, we were able to get it on the inside of the HVAC. We had to dismantle the truss and reassemble it above the sprinkler system. The job took longer than anticipated but was well worth the sacrifice. An extra 2 feet of height made a huge difference. The stage visibly opened up and the additional height gave the lighting greater beam presence and stage effect.

The major complaint concerning the dance floor was no one could see the dancers unless they were on the half closest to the stage. Spaced evenly around the dance floor, the wide beam angle and affordability of the Chauvet 200Bs provided good room coverage with adequate illumination. To further address future dance floor showcases, 4 moving washes were placed near each corner of the dance floor. Every space of the dance floor except the outer extremes now had sufficient front lighting for the audience. Concerning the outer extremes, by leaving the edges dark, wall flowers and reluctant dancers can gradually work their way to the dance floor. It is a very natural way to progress into the party. More dancers mean more to watch. More to watch means more to drink. More money means more projects for Eye Dialogue.

LED Lighting for the Country Club of AugustaLED Lighting for the Country Club of AugustaLED Lighting for the Country Club of Augusta

To deal with the hard edge fixtures, I wanted to add some beam crossing. By crossing the beam effects, the perception of the dance floor becomes a 3 dimensional box. The guests no longer need to look for the definitions on the floor. The easier the dance floor is to define the less the guest hesitates which means more dancers… more voyeurs… more drinks. The 8 Elation moving spots in the center create a nice center piece which was already present. We shifted the truss to get the lights in line with the room. We kept them in the center because the beam effects were in a great location to light the stage as well as rock the dance floor. For the beam crossing, 4 Double Derby X’s were positioned on the 4 corners of the dance floor, providing an adequate fill to create a dynamic atmosphere and dance floor definition.

The biggest change to the space was adding the lighting to the bars. Until this point everything we have done is common for entertainment venues. The Wow factor was the lighting addition to the bars. We talked about lighting everything in the room during some point of the conversation but of course budget was a concern. The final decision led us to lighting the vertical surfaces on all the bars. Taking the attention from the neons scattered around the room and redirecting it to the architecture, we emphasized what was already present. The idea is not to apologize for what you lack, but complimented what you have. The concept is a common suggestion in fashion but sometimes over looked by owners when designing their venue. For example, if your fantasy super model walks in the room with 20 other women how many women came in the door? The honest answer is always one! By creating impact features, everything else gets ignored. When looking through the room now the emphasis goes to the core elements: the stage, the dancers, and the alcohol. Now no matter how drunk you are the bars are easy to find. Just follow the light to the end of the tunnel.

LED Lighting for the Country Club of AugustaLED Lighting for the Country Club of Augusta

For the savvy lighting reader, “yes” light jockey can only fit 100 fixtures we only had 2 universes aka one light jockey dongle. Getting around the limitations of Light jockey is simple. Use the “10 LED” fixture profile which only counts as one fixture, increasing your total number LED fixtures to 1000 (however not exceeding 2024 address’s aka 670). The next issue was dealing with the number of addresses required to put every fixture on a different channel. The total came to 1056, just over the 1024 ceiling. We compromised the 3 small bars. Putting two fixtures on each address we were able to reduce the total number of addresses within 2 universes.

The Country Bar of Augusta has stayed true to its country roots and has also gained relevance in the modern entertainment palette. Using styles borrowed from the ultra lounge, a contemporary-traditional compromise has achieved a new life without isolating its older clientele. Taking the focus from the neon walls to the bars, stage, and dance floor, the guest will be less distracted, more entertained, and more likely to have one more drink before they leave.

LED Lighting for the Country Club of AugustaLED Lighting for the Country Club of AugustaLED Lighting for the Country Club of AugustaLED Lighting for the Country Club of Augusta