February 2012 – Current

Project Description

The Dance-O-Mat is a coin operated dance floor that anyone can use. A coin-operated ex-laundromat washing machine powers four speakers which surround a custom-made dance floor.

To use the Dance-O-Mat, people bring any device with a headphone jack such as an Ipod, phone or Mp3 player and plug it into the converted washing machine, insert $2 to activate the power and get dancing!

Gap Filler created this project to respond to the lack of spaces for dance post-quake and bring people, life and energy back to the central city. Thousands of people have used the Dance-O-Mat, even Prince Charles and Camilla in November 2012 on their Royal Jubilee tour. With dancing ranging from salsa to flamenco, break dance, swing, ceroc, belly dancing, random all-ages discos and the SUPERHERO DANCE SQUAD, Dance-O-Mat brought many smiles to people’s faces, right up against the red zone. Local choreographers and teachers also used the floor to work out in the open with their students.

The Dance-O-Mat was first located on a vacant site in 2012 and has occupied three different gaps in the city since then. This project in its first iteration was extremely successful, getting 600 hours of use at our best guess (based on the $2 coins collected) across 3 months. It currently shares the vacant site on the corner of Gloucester and Colombo Streets with Julia Morrison’s artwork Tree Houses for Swamp Dwellers which was commissioned by CCC and realised as part of SCAPE 2013. The team and a crew of volunteers have worked really hard to get the floor back in time for Christmas (2013). We’ve had people asking us for weeks when it’s coming it, so we know people are keen to see it back! This is Gap Filler’s Christmas present to the city.

A Dance-O-Mat for your City?

We’ve created a How-To manual for how to create a Dance-O-Mat

Project Details

Dates: February 2012 – Current

Location: Cnr Colombo & Gloucester Streets, Christchurch

Client/Funder: Christchurch City Council

Key people: Andrew Just, Pippin Wright-Stow, Richie Lorgelly (F3)

Values: Experimentation, Collaboration

Support/Sponsors: Plywood (Placemakers), paint (Resene), steel tubing (Steel and Tube), bunting (KiteShop), Electrical labour (Aotea Electrical and Matt Ballantine), electrical materials/parts (Ideal Electrical), washing machine (Phil at Maytag), loaned limiter device (SoundStore).

Volunteers: 6 painters, 4 installers/de-installers, 5 maintainers

Dance in Public

This has been one of our most successful projects to date because of how many different people have used it. From random passers by to organised dance groups, flamenco, break dance and the Superhero Dance Squad. This project really seemed to tap into a need not only for a space for dancers but a space to have fun and gather in the city. It was accessible and very simple and encouraged people to ‘play’ in the city. A few people warned us early on that they didn’t think Kiwis would dance in public and wondered how successful this project could be. I think this project has certainly proved them wrong, or rather, us Kiwis proved them wrong!

Dance-O-Mat was been vandalised a few times – the first instance only 3 days after it opened when the lid to the money collection compartment was crow-barred off and the timer device ripped out to access the money inside. It was welded back on by F3 Design promptly. The wall behind the floor was tagged, as was the blackboard. A few times, the headphone jack was broken or the cord cut. Design modifications were made to stop this happening. Maintenance was ongoing with this project. The floor got rather dirty as it was on a dusty concrete pad. It was washed a few times by Gap Filler and once with a big scrubbing cleaning bee! A gloss paint night be better next time to make it easier to clean, or perhaps a polyeurethane of some sort. Due to a lot of use, the edges have become a bit chipped or damaged in places. I will definitely need sanding back and re-painting before it goes out again in the spring. Bottles and rubbish were left on site sometimes and it was part of volunteer’s jobs to clear this up.

There were complaints about the noise and originally the project ran until 11pm daily. Two neighbours (across Manchester Street) complained to Noise Control. Gap Filler met with CCC Noise Control people about permissible noise levels and also met with one neighbour to try and resolve this issue. By deciding to cut the sound at 10pm rather than the original finish time of 11pm, we were within the permissible noise levels in the central city. The people who complained about the sound were living in a building with inadequate soundproofing and the demolition of their neighbouring building which previously sheltered them, left them exposed. In Dance-O-Mat’s future iterations, more care will be taken to be no where near any residents.

Already people are looking forward to its new location in Spring and someone has even called for it to be a permanent fixture in the city with one possibility being Cathedral Square.

Dance-O-Mat On Facebook


Here is a inspiring Dance-O-Mat video made by Jacob Stanley.

Video: Dancer: Arabella Nimmo Choreographer: Toby Behan Concept: Charles Nimmo

Dance-O-Mat meets the Superhero Dance Squad – One of our favourite uses of our Dance-O-Mat!

Dance-O-Mat Elsewhere

Dance-O-Mat of Facebook

All the usual stuff that you see on Facebook. Such a lovely day-by-day history.

F3 Design

F3 Design: ‘The concept reflected the loss of many local dance studios and performance spaces and by the ensuing…’

Creative Space Case Study

Creative Spaces Article asking questions like “How does temporary activity bring life to the city? How does it support business? How does it support creative people, and how does temporary activity allow us to experiment with use of space to buy time for the longer-term rebuilding process? That’s really how it came to be.”

Stuff Article: Popular Christchurch Dance-O-Mat could travel the world

Stuff says ‘Christchurch is the city that dances’.