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Laserium, LA's original laser light show, is back

Michael Juliano

Long before lasers became staples of late-'90s raves and EDM-fueled stage shows, there was the original laser light show, Laserium. Then-filmmaker Ivan Dryer was so bowled over by a multi-colored laser demonstration at Cal Tech that he decided to record his own show and set it to music. On November 19, 1973, his project Laserium opened at the Griffith Observatory for a nearly three-decade run, and simultaneously kickstarted a wave of burned out Pink Floyd fans flocking to laser light shows at planetariums across the country.

The company aspect of Laserium never really went away—its services have been lent to museums and music video productions—but this weekend it's opening up its Van Nuys studios for a string of backstage performances. Laserium Studios (6911 Hayvenhurst Ave) will host 45-minute laser shows set to U2, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and, of course, Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon. The shows will continue next weekend, and, if all goes well, maybe beyond.

It's not the first comeback since the show left Griffith Park in 2002 (during the observatory's massive renovation); there was a short-lived Hollywood residency in 2009 and a summertime rooftop revival in 2012. But plans for a permanent 80-foot "Cyberdome" never quite came to fruition. Maybe we're just too far past the era of laser light shows, a time when people were into the analog futurism of Hooked-On Bach and Disneyland's Main Street Electrical Parade along with aiming highly focused beams of light into a crowd. On second thought, now sounds like the perfect time for a laser show revival.

You can buy tickets ($14) for the shows here, and check out this vintage, behind-the-scenes look at Laserium below.

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