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What is Orbiting?
Orbiting is an interactive style of dance popular in the EDM Flow Arts community that focuses on a visual performance using a series of LEDs attached to strings. It is generally free-form and applies a variety of concepts that utilize geometric principles to make it more aesthetic and pleasing to the eye. Orbiting is extremely popular at EDM festivals and nightclub events, and over the last decade has grown significantly around the globe, especially within rave culture.
What are LED Orbits?
An LED Orbit is the term coined for a series of LED diodes arranged in any type of circular pattern and affixed together. These LEDs are then strung with 2 strings, inversely tied, to create 4 individual strings that wind-up to create torque when spun. The user must maintain tension when spinning to propel the LEDs into “Orbit”. “Orbit” is achieved when the centrifugal force of the spinning LEDs is paired with tension and torsion to keep the orbit spinning magically.
As a whole, this exciting flow art is called Orbiting. It has evolved from a closet-industry into a renowned art all around the globe.
Why is Orbiting popular, you might ask? This guide will educate you on the in-and-outs of why orbiting is exploding in popularity.
The Anatomy of an Orbit
There is not much you can do with two strands of string, but when you combine them with a small, protective housing that contains LEDs, you create a catalyst of artistic expression…you create The Orbit. Most orbits feature LEDs, but not all. The complexity may range from zip ties, to molded, or even 3D printed plastic. Each Orbit has it’s own style of flow based on the components used to create it. Orbits have been known to utilize anywhere between 2 and 12 Light Emitting Diodes.
“Orbit” is a term used to describe an instrument that acts as a flat, spinning form of mass suspended in mid-air between two strings that loop one-end through its body, and back to the other end where a knot is then formed. This is performed by holding on to the knotted-end of both strings and swinging it in a circular path. The rotational motion of the orbit causes the strings to wind up, resulting in a build-up of tension. This allows the orbit to spin extremely fast when enough torque is applied. It reacts to the amount of tension that is being exerted by the strings on each side, resulting in a variation of spins that can be either large or small in diameter.
Orbits can also be modified to have LEDs installed inside its body, allowing it to create a visually stunning array of light trails that follow its path.
See the magic of an LED Orbit depicted in this video:
The Nature of Orbiting
“Orbiting” describes the action of spinning an object whose function is to spin either in a large circular path or in a small, micro-sized rotation. Starting when the orbit is born, until it’s very last moments of breath, the purpose of an orbit is to spin. How it looks when it’s spinning depends on how you manipulate the string. Orbits have a unique ability to enter extreme speeds of rotation on their axis, due to the buildup and release of tension from the winding of the strings.
If the orbit is carrying LEDs inside of it while in rotation, it creates an effect that surrounds the entire orbit in a bright disc of light. Depending on which direction the orbit is rotating, you can create different shapes with the LEDs by spinning in a circular motion. If you’re spinning the orbit in the same direction as its rotation, you’ll create the shape of a flower. If you’re spinning it in the opposite direction of its rotation, you’ll create the shape of a star. Harness the power of the orbit, and the possibilities are endless.
The Dynamics of Orbiting
Orbits have a unique ability to enter extreme speeds of rotation due to having an axis on which it can spin. The trick is to create enough torque with the tension of the strings to achieve this state. The more torque that is acting upon the orbit, the faster it will rotate. There are many ways torque can affect the way the orbit acts and looks when it’s spinning. This is especially true when it’s body is simultaneously being swung by the strings in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. Depending on the velocity of the orbit’s spin rotation in relation to the velocity of one’s swing, orbits will phase though different shapes and patterns that can be seen with the addition of LEDs that are orientated on the orbit in a specific way, so that it is symmetrical on either one or both of the axes.
Let’s assume that someone picks up an orbit that has not been used before, meaning the strings are not wound and there is no tension currently present in the strings. As soon as the orbiter begins to swing the orbit in either direction, the orbit will naturally begin to rotate on its axis in the same direction due to gravity. Because the LEDs are on the same path of motion as the orbit, each light will create a trail that describes the shape of a circle. As the orbiter continues to wind up the strings, the velocity of the orbit’s spin will gradually decrease due to the increase in tension from the strings.
Eventually, the strings will exert enough torque to cause the orbit to reverse its rotation and begin spinning the opposite direction, all happening while the orbiter is swinging the orbit. Once this happens, the orbits take on a new shape. The trails of light will diverge into their own distinct paths of orbit, and with the right amount of tension, you can give the orbit enough torque to create the shape of an atom.
In order for pattern to remain consistent, the orbit’s torque needs to stay constant. To have that, the strings would have to keep the same amount of tension on the orbit. When the orbit first starts to reverse its rotation, it causes the strings to start to unwind, slowly reducing the tension.
In order to prevent that from happening and keep tension, the orbiter must accommodate by slowly increasing the distance between the ends of the string and the orbit. Doing this will cause the strings to unwind faster so that it generates enough torque for it to keep its shape. As the orbiter pulls the string-ends away from the orbit, the diameter of the orbit’s swing will get smaller. As a result, the patterns it is making will start to shrink and compress, taking on alternate forms of the atom shape.
- Liquids: Liquid is a term used to describe a style of dance movement characterized by fluid-like motions that don’t appear to have any shape or form. Orbiters apply this to their movement as well. The fluidity comes from having each part of the body you “liquid” – in the case of an orbiter, it would be their hands and orbit – pass through the same points so that it appears to be flowing as one single entity.
- Pivots: A pivot is a change in orientation of the orbit, by rotating one hand around another hand that is stationary, while the orbit has torque.
- Isolations: Isolations are simultaneous rotations of both hands around the orbit. The difference between a pivot and an isolation is the axis. Pivots use a stationary hand as the axis and isolations use the orbit as the axis.
- Stalls: A stall is achieved by touching the orbit at the end of its breath while the tension is at its highest point. The stall keeps the orbit from spinning as long as it’s in contact with something.
- Body Wraps: A body wrap is done by using the strings to sling the orbit across your body so that it wraps around different points of contact. Examples include arm wraps, leg wraps, torso wraps, neck wraps, and shoulder wraps.
- Flare: Similar to the “vertical orbit”, a flare is when you let go of one of the handles in such a way that it causes the orbit to follow the same path of trajectory as the handle. This is achieved by flicking the orbit upwards as soon as the free handle swings downwards so that the force from the flick increases momentum of the handle.
- Body Tracers: Body tracing is done by sliding the orbit along the surface of your body. It can be combined with stalls and is also a great transitioning move between other concepts.
The Future of Orbiting
Orbiting has evolved immensely in the past couple of years. What impacted the art most significantly was when orbiters began to install weighted handles at each end of the string. This changed the way orbiting is looked at now. Orbiting has become much more versatile now and the addition of Orbit Handles has caused it to branch out into different styles resembling other types of flow arts such as astrojax, poi, and yo-yos. There are many types of Orbit Handles which come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and weights. As orbiters continue to progress in skill, the art of orbiting will further evolve into an entirely new form of expression. But nothing will change the fact that an orbit’s destiny will always be to spin.
Why Use GloFX Orbits?
Like all GloFX products, our orbits are backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee, and all Lux Series LED Orbits are backed by a lifetime warranty. Orbiting is much more than just a business to us, it is an art form and a way of life. Since 2009, our team has strived to produce the highest quality rave gear, and our glowing orbits are absolutely no exception. In 2016 GloFX launched its Lux Orbit, in an attempt to make the most advanced orbit for the most demanding and experienced ravers. GloFX is absolutely committed to furthering the art of orbiting, and all other aspects of rave culture.
Learn more about the wonderful experience of flow arts at The Rage!