OAKLAND -- For a short time, Laserium is back in the Bay Area.

Laserium, the laser light show set to music, debuted at the Chabot Space and Science Center on Nov. 1 for the first time since it left the area more than a decade ago. More than 20 million people around the world have experienced a show since the 1970s.

"For a huge part of the Bay Area population, the Laserium shows at Morrison (Planetarium in Golden Gate Park) were part of our experience and the opportunity to bring this excitement and artistry back and do it in a way that excites the public about science, is something we couldn't pass up," said Alexander Zwissler, Chabot's executive director and CEO.

The opening night was a fundraiser for Chabot and the Rex Foundation, a nonprofit begun by the Grateful Dead and its friends to provide community support for "creative endeavors in the arts, sciences and education," the foundation's website said.

"I'm excited to have this partnership between rock 'n' roll and science," said Trixie Garcia, daughter of Grateful Dead founder Jerry Garcia, and a Rex Foundation board member. Garcia served as one of the evening's Ambassadors of Light, one of the Bay Area's cultural luminaries, who attended the evening's celebration. "There's a definite relationship between math and music."


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Opening night ushered in the 40th anniversary of the Laserium shows, a new moon and the 40th anniversary of the night's music, Pink Floyd's, "Dark Side of the Moon," which laserist Danny Nielson brought to life with laser graphics, geometric shapes and strings of color.

Guests gave the show high marks.

"It was fabulous," said Piedmont resident Lynn Owens. "Brought back old memories," she said, adding that, "the surround sound sent it over the top." Most of the people who went to the benefit had seen Laserium before, as indicated by a show of hands before the beginning of the show. And many people were high on nostalgia.

"When we were in high school here in Oakland back in the '70s, we all remember the awesome and inspiring experience of Laserium," Zwissler said. "It was literally a rite of passage to go see it."

"When I saw it (many years ago), it was one green light," said Oakland resident Joel White, who appreciated the multicolored effects of the show. "It was definitely more than I was expecting."

According to a press release, the show is at Chabot for only three months. It opened to the public on Sunday.

Laserium shows began in the 1970s when Ivan Dryer, a film maker, saw a demonstration of a multicolored laser at California Institute of Technology. Captured by the "purity and intensity of the colors," Dryer made a film that set patterns of light to music, according to the Chabot release.

At Chabot, the shows are live performances, not films. So, "every show is unique," Zwissler said.

IF YOU GO
What: Laserium, a live laser light show set to music
When: see chabotspace.org for showtimes
Where: Chabot Space and Science Center, 10000 Skyline Blvd., Oakland
Tickets: $12 per person, $10 for members. Tickets including admission to the center are $22. Tickets can be purchased at www.chabotspace.org/LASERIUM
Information: 510-336-7300 or VisitorInfo@ChabotSpace.org