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Legendary music venue ‘Universal’ gets resurrected with PROLIGHTS

23 August 2019

Australia - After its closure in 2017, Darlinghurst’s legendary gay venue Midnight Shift has been resurrected by Universal Hotels using a whole host of the hugely-popular PROLIGHTS fixtures.

Universal Hotels, a Sydney based hospitality group owned and operated by the Kospetas family, picked up the 1000-square-metre building last June for a reported $12 million and have relaunched it as Universal, a rebranded music venue and LGBTIQA+ safe place.

“Universal is an evolution of the Midnight Shift, rather than a revolution,” explained owner Jim Kospetas, who plans to respect the special role that the venue has played for the LGBTIQA+ community and continue its long-held legacy of inclusivity.

Jim, who is very tech savvy, contacted Show Technology with a brief that is music to the ear: lots and lots of fixtures! He wanted masses of beams and good sight lines throughout the venue.

Tim Macfie of TDM Productions was chosen to design the lighting system due to his long standing reputation within the clubbing world plus his understanding of the gay community, as well as the straight events held at the venue.

“They wanted someone who could meet the needs of all markets,” he explained. “As it’s a really tough time in Sydney for nightlife, we needed to look at ways to multifunction the space. Consequently, it was crucial to bring the lighting up to a world class level from a production point of view.”

Tim was keen to create lines of symmetry in the room whilst keeping the three circular trusses that the Midnight Shift was known for. Hence the initial refurb saw the entire roof stripped out and a brand new mother grid installed. The truss circles were relocated within the venue and a new stage truss established.

At either end of the room are four PROLIGHTS STARKBAR1000 powerful and zoomable LED moving battens which can be used as a light curtain, CYC light or wash light. Each of the LED pixels are individually controllable for a host of impressive effects.

“I wasn’t sure about them at first, but they can completely change the architecture of the room!” Tim said. “They marry really well with the mirror design and if you point them straight out, they’re a good events blinder.”

Four PROLIGHTS AIR6PIX LED moving battens are located on four dropper bars either side of the DJ to frame LED screen with Tim saying they provide nice geometric elements. Again, each of the LED pixels are individually controllable, and both sides pivot to create classic ACL looks. With infinite rotation of both pan and tilt, they certainly add a wow factor to the lighting rig.

It was quite a journey to bring the sparkle, colour and glamour back to this iconic venue and Show Technology has enjoyed the project. “The support from Show Technology has been incredible,” commented Tim. “Gareth is fantastic to work with and has given me great support.

With the new renovation, Universal has raised the standard of performance and production to a new level in Sydney. The team has thought outside the box to add new design elements to existing fixtures which help tie the entire room design together to entice corporate events and high level performers back to Oxford Street. Having recently re-opened the doors they have already had the privilege of hosting acts such as Ben Bohmer – Anjunadeep, Spencer Brown – Anjunadeep, Return to Rio, Hernan Cattano, James Ziebela, Marco Faraone and Solarstone.

PROLIGHTS distributor for Australia & New Zealand: Show Technology
Production Credits:
Lighting Designer/Production Manager - Tim Macfie
Operators – Ben Sermais/Margeaux Jalenko /Dave Stevenson
Audio Installation – Everingham Audio
Laser Installation – Lumina Laser – Dave Leigh
Mirrored Effects – Psyklonic – Peter Sykes
Photography – m1 Productions
Lighting Supplier – Show Technology