In the early 1970s, as the Irish showband scene reached its peak, Dublin witnessed a discotheque boom with the opening of successful nightclubs like Sloopys and Zhivago. It was also during this time that Hans Lignell came up with the idea of Star Trek, a massive mobile disco which would bring the glamour, lights, excitement and sophistication of the new Dublin nightclubs to the ballrooms around the country.
“Star Trek started with the fact that I had a large collection of records,” Hans told me. “I originally had the idea of setting up a DJ with a box trailer to do parties and corporate events, but the concept quickly grew, and ended up in a Bedford removal truck! We introduced disco music to ballrooms all over Ireland at a time when they either danced to showbands like Dickie Rock (pop) or Big Tom (country & western)”.
In general, ballrooms were basic, bright open spaces with little or no atmosphere and it would take five hours for Hans and his crew to set up their equipment – worth €150,000 in today’s money. In her Irish Independent column, Janet Martin said, “Star Trek transformed the massive room into instant atmosphere, they just plugged in and everybody switched on.” Hans explained, “we set up the ballroom with an ‘outer space’ theme throughout. The DJ was in a spaceship in the centre of the stage. Behind him was an eight-foot-high wall with a space scene painted in fluorescent colours, with two giant robots either side as speakers. I had Ireland’s only group of go-go dancers called Go Gos Galore. They danced on one inch perspex topped two-foot high boxes with either red, blue, green or yellow lights underneath them that were tuned to either bass, middle or treble. There was a mixture of oil and psychedelic projectors together with strobe lighting throughout, and at the wall opposite to the stage, stood boxes of lights. While the DJ played the latest records, the light operator would change the mood by switching on different projectors. I can recall people coming in, just standing there, not dancing, but watching the go-go girls and the whole setup. It was a totally new experience for them, but once they settled in and began to feel comfortable, the ballrooms rocked.”
Star Trek’s regular DJ Justin James (from RTE’s Like Now TV show) played the hits of the day, songs like Sugar Sugar by The Archies, Freda Payne’s Band Of Gold, Edwin Star’s War and Get It On by T Rex. Top international DJ Tony Prince from Radio Luxemborg once made a guest appearance.
When I asked Hans if Star Trek was a success, he said, “Yes and no, but this was mainly due to the amount of wear and tear caused to the background displays and the light stands etc. They were all made of wood and had a limited life span due to the constant setting up, taking down, and transportation in between gigs. From a commercial point, I would have to say no, as the costs were never really repaid, but we did have some fun doing it all.”
In 1973 Hans made a complete life change by moving to Australia where he still lives today. He gave Star Trek to his DJ, Justin.
Words: Brian McMahon, Brand New Retro
Full page advert for Star Trek
Hans Lignell with 3 of Go Gos Galore, l to r, Mary, Marie & Michelle at Dublin’s TV club.
Go Gos Galore dancer Marie Mooney at Dublin’s TV Club.
All images from from Showcase Magazine. Jan 1971