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The Last Dance

Clubbing brings people together and promotes a sense of belonging. New connections happen on the dance floor as a result of the sheer rush of endorphins that flood the senses through the music. It is a process of creating a micro-community where people make friends, open up to random strangers, and dance their socks off to one common denominator: the music being played loudly on state-of-the-art sound systems and which years later might result in an annoying diagnosis of tinnitus.  However, club culture is often overlooked even though its humble beginnings were in the 1960s and are ever so present to this very day. Planet Disco in Gozo opened its doors in 1990. This was the post  “Summer of Love” phase in the European clubbing scene. This period was the peak of the rave music era that emerged from the acid house movement, and which saw young people dancing the night away in spaces that ranged from proper clubs to abandoned factories and fields.


For the Maltese, Gozo was the perfect getaway for clubbing. The sister island offered the vacation feel without airfare costs and is easily accessible via a 20-minute boat ride. At the time Malta had its own well-renowned clubs but nothing beat the trip over to the sister island for a night or a weekend of clubbing. Planet disco was then one of the top venues, however, new avenues of novel entertainment and other exciting technological distractions where the death knell of such clubs, and this discotheque closed its doors in 2019 leaving the space suspended in time possibly waiting for another wild night of music, dancing, and drinking.


It is vital to document this club in its later stages because this is the final farewell to a location that has hosted events which brought people together. However, when those clubbers who danced on  these dance floors and the DJ’s who played in these clubs are no longer around, the memories also fade away with them. Therefore this documentation is important as it also pays tribute to the patrons who have enjoyed these places, celebrates the connections made, and preserves those memories for future generations. Photographer and artist Joseph P Smith, set out to work on this project with the single intention of capturing the spirit of the club that uncannily still permeates the spaces that once housed one of the best such venues in Gozo - The Planet (later the Ku Club), which was part of the Teatru Astra complex. A space that has been left empty and abandoned for some time and which is now earmarked to take on a new role in the very near future.

With its original intended function long discarded, the space is presently a time capsule, or perhaps a cabinet of curiosities. I am totally absorbed with the way the artist connects with the stillness of these abandoned spaces where a lingering presence still permeates the spaces. Anything left inside a place after it ceases to perform its intended purpose

turns into a relic. An epitaph of sorts. The space’s boundary retains a moment in time that we can never get back to but somehow still manifests an uncanny air of “presence”. Perhaps if you close your eyes, you will hear the music getting louder and the crammed bodies swaying together in sync. Smith has translated this unfolding, albeit decaying narrative, into highly visual and emotive photographs and installations that are imbued with poignant nostalgia.

Therese Debono

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