Dutch dancing shoes to light up the floor


Amsterdam : Environmentally conscious Dutch dancers will be dancing on a special dance floor Saturday to generate energy. The energy-generating dance floor, developed by a Rotterdam architecture firm, is just one of many Dutch innovations at Amsterdam's Live Earth event.

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Tens of thousands of people are expected to participate in the 24-hour music marathon in the Westergaspark in Amsterdam over the weekend, while large TV screens are due to show similar events going on in other cities around the world.

Dutch artistes will perform live on stages set up in the park, and several Dutch inventors are due to present their environment-friendly innovations.

Days before the event, Alijd van Doorn, 31, project leader and inventor of Doell Architect's dance floor, is "nervous how the floor tiles will perform" Saturday.

The architecture firm will present two energy-generating floor tiles to be tested by the public. Each of the tiles has a 1-square-metre surface with built-in LED-lights from Dutch company Philips – the company that originally made its fame as a light bulb producer.

Van Doorn explains the workings of the energy-generating dance floor: "The energy produced by two people dancing on one tile will light up the tile. The more you dance, the brighter the light will be."

Van Doorn estimates the energy output of two dancers will be between 5 to 10 watts per tile, which may seem negligible. But, says Van Doorn, "our project is really meant quite seriously. On Saturday we will only present some test models of the tiles.

"We have advanced plans to open a sustainable dance club in Rotterdam in April 2008. We will be renovating 'Night Town', an existing venue which was recently closed down, and transform it into a sustainable dance club," Van Doorn explains.

"This Saturday the Dutch public will be testing our first generation tiles in Amsterdam. We will weigh and measure everyone who wants to try the dance floor. This data will tell us exactly how much energy can be generated by people of a certain height and weight," Van Doorn added.

The test results will help the company to develop a second generation of tiles, with which they intend to build the entire dance floor of the Rotterdam club.

"We want young people to go clubbing – lounging, dancing, flirting – in an environmentally friendly way. The dance club will be designed with environment-friendly materials and customers will be able to buy organic drinks.

"Our plans go beyond an energy-generating dance floor. We are also working on air conditioning that will automatically come on if people dance more, or a music volume that goes down if people dance less."

Van Doorn explains the water used to flush the toilets of the Rotterdam club will be rainwater collected from the roof of the building. The roof will also have solar panels and wind turbines.

"All of this will be visible to our guests, because we will basically bring them to the rooftop by creating a relaxed space on top of the building," adds Van Doorn, who acknowledges that developing a sustainable dance club "is an expensive project.

"It demands substantial extra investments. Both the technology and the sustainable materials are expensive. We applied for a subsidy from the Rotterdam municipality to realise our sustainable night club, but we are still waiting for an answer," she says.

But, Van Doorn adds, she does not fear a financial disaster. "Our suppliers are very enthusiastic. Their enthusiasm helped us to make agreements ensuring our future guests will pay prices similar to those of other clubs. This is quite unique; usually sustainable materials and organic products are more expensive for consumers.

"What we do has great symbolic value," Van Doorn adds. "Young people usually associate 'sustainable development' with the idea of compromising or giving up on fun things. We want to demonstrate you can go clubbing without harming the environment."

Van Doorn predicts a bright future for the sustainable dance floor.

"We are conducting serious negotiations with night club owners in Rome and London, both of whom want us to build them a sustainable dance club. Entrepreneurs worldwide are approaching us too. People are definitely interested in the product we have to offer."