You seem them everywhere. In fact, they have become so familiar that you might not even notice them anymore.
We’re talking about those towering, tubular, dancing noodles you see down at the car lot or at big events. They used to seem strange. Now they seem like a part of the landscape.
But where in the world did they come from?
Back in 1996, the Olympics came back to the United States, this time happening in Atlanta. As with every Olympics, they looked to create an opening ceremony that people would remember. Who knew that one of the things they would remember involved dancing noodles?
The idea started with artist Peter Minshall, who the Olympics hired to help create the show. A native of Trinidad, Minshall has become one of the most famous artists of his time. His work began designing costumes for Carnival, but soon expanded to a kind of mobile sculpture.
His pieces have the qualities of sculpture, but are designed with materials (such as inflatables) that allow for movement. His costumes are designed so that both the performer and the costume are part of a coherent whole.
What Minshall produced for the Olympics incorporated the ideas from his previous work. But his Tall Men, which became the predecessor to the dancing noodles, were viewed by hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Inflatable figures with two feet, two arms and head, these works of arts appeared to dance above the crowd on the Olympic Stadium floor.
Minshall worked on the project with Los Angeles artist Dorin Gazit, who trademarked the inflatable, tube-shaped figures.
Gazit ended up granting the right for several companies to make the figures, which began appearing at big events, retail establishments and even large house parties. Some farmers even use them as scarecrows.
They go by many names: air dancer, air ranger, noodle men, etc. But what started as art has now become part of mainstream culture in a very short amount of time. Certainly, Minshall and Gazit pushed the boundaries of what is possible when you combine the latest technology and materials with an eye for artistic design and arresting visuals.
Of course, inflatables now have become more numerous and varied than ever. People can rent inflatables of their own.
Through party rental companies such as Air Fun Games, they also can equip a party with everything from obstacle courses and bounce houses to mechanical bulls and giant Twister games. They are the kind of addition to a party that can, much like the dancing noodle, create experiences people won’t soon forget.