Not too long ago, a get-down, get-funky night of dancing to popular music was nearly unheard of aboard a cruise ship. A disco, if there even was one, was stashed away like an afterthought in the bowels of the ship or on the topmost deck so as not to offend passengers for whom “dancing” meant attempting to cha-cha to “The Girl from Ipanema” in the main lounge. In the late 1970s, the disco ball made its first at-sea appearance, affixed to ceilings of small, lackluster spaces. And for years, these mirrored glass icons cast their dizzying lights upon near-empty dance floors while some staffer made a few extra bucks serving as DJ, spinning a warped vinyl copy of Saturday Night Fever or Stars on 45. How things have changed.
With cruise ships attracting a vastly younger demographic, nightclubs (the word “disco” seems to have faded away while I wasn’t looking) and their high-tech sound systems and professional disc jockeys are riding a powerful wave at sea. The music has morphed from the rock and disco tunes of the ’70s and ’80s to bass-thumping hip-hop and hypnotic techno played, most often, at ear-splitting volume. The humble disco ball was retired and has been replaced by an entertainment experience, characterized by mesmerizing visuals like undulating light displays, programmable lasers, video walls, and outlandish theme décor. Cruising’s hottest new clubs are aboard ...
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