Domino Show

Domino Day

domino wizard

The domino effect is a chain reaction that occurs when a small change causes a similar change nearby, which then causes another similar change, and so on in linear sequence. It typically refers to a linked sequence of events where the time between successive events is relatively small. It can be used literally (an observed series of actual collisions such as a falling row of dominoes) or metaphorically (causal linkages within systems such as global finance). A domino show is created by setting up dominoes in very long lines before initiating the chain reaction, toppling all of them.

One of the elements of excitement comes from the inherent risk: each added domino might accidently start the reaction. Some dominoes can have different top and back colors, making it look like they change after toppling; this allows domino builders to make pictures (mosaics) appear. Other tricks include three-dimensional stackings; shapes such as spirals and letters; contraptions like stairs and mouse traps; and dozens of special toppling techniques such as ‘Sonimod’ (‘dominos’ spelled backwards).

The first public domino shows were those of Bob Speca, Jr. from Broomall, PA. In 1976, at the age of 18, he established the first official world record for the highest number of dominos toppled in a chain reaction, by setting up and toppling down 11,111 pieces. That event, and his appearance on ‘The Tonight Show’ triggered a domino-toppling craze, leading to a long lasting competition among domino-builders about the world record.

In 1984, Klaus Friedrich from Germany was the last person to set up a new domino-toppling world record single-handedly. In that same year student filmmakers Sheri Herman and Bonnie Cutler from Temple University produced and directed a film entitled ‘AND THEY ALL FALL DOWN,’ showcasing Bob Speca’s talents. The film is part of the permanent collection of the Berlin Film Museum.

Two years later, the Netherlands started hosting a huge domino toppling exhibition that is now called ‘Domino Day.’ Since 1998, it takes place (almost) every year around November. Their current world record was set at 4,345,027 dominoes, on November 14, 2008. Weijers Domino Productions, the creators of Domino Day, are the biggest professional domino show company in the world. Beside domino builders they employ professional designers, developers and engineers. The company was founded by Robin Paul Weijers (known as ‘Mr. Domino’) to create domino shows for product introductions, campaign launches, commercial advertisements, and team building events.

The company also invented the newly popular ‘Builder’s Challenge’ (BC). It is included in many shows now as an additional attraction (and risk). During the falldown of the dominoes, a builder – or several ones – has to fill in a gap in a line. A certain project (or, rarely, the whole chain) depends on that line, meaning that if the builder fails to complete the challenge in time, the project will not be triggered.

Due to the popularity of Domino Day, domino-toppling has become a widespread hobby, especially in the USA, Germany, the Netherlands and Asia. There are countless local domino shows held every year, many of them in schools. An anonymous Canadian who calls himself ‘FlippyCat’ has reached more than 200,000 subscribers with his domino videos on YouTube.

Some other notable builders are Mike and Steve Perrucci, whose previous shows include three events at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center; Max Poser from Berlin, former holder of two world records (most dominoes toppled in a spiral, most dominoes stacked on single piece); the Cologne Domino Team (CDT), an association of some of Germany’s domino builders that holds an event every summer and the German domino group ‘Sinners Domino Entertainment’ which is current world record holder in four disciplines and which toppled around 275,000 dominoes in July 2013.

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