The Liberty Science Center, which debuted in 1993 in Jersey City near Liberty State Park, has long been a favorite for Hudson County kids. Now the interactive museum is offering a special event for their parents, and even grandparents.The center, which closes daily at 5:30 p.m., will keep its doors open on the first Thursday of every month with its new 21-and-up After Dark events.
“Dancing with Volcanoes” was the theme on Thursday, September 15, with a 14-foot volcano on the dance floor that erupted at 7:30 to kick off the dance party. Party-goers danced with a dinosaur as the volcano erupted, formed a conga line, and had a dance contest while men and women twerked in a floating jungle gym over the dance floor. These were all surreal happenings for a place generally known for its insect petting station, kids’ exhibits, and a touch tunnel that lets visitors feel their way through a pitch black 80-foot course.
“I haven’t been here since I was 10. We don’t see this stuff every day and it makes you feel like a kid again,” said Pedro Manzanares, 34, from Hoboken. “I saw all the exhibits all the way to the top. This place brings back childhood memories and I love that. It’s fun, and people forget that feeling at a certain age.”
“We came here for the David Bowie Light Show,” said Paul Russo and Nicole G. of Jersey City. Every After Dark event has an original light show. “We like learning about cool and different things in the area.” The couple said they’ve been to drunken Shakespeare and paint-and-sip events at other venues in Jersey City, where they’ve lived for six months. “We expect this to be fun, different, cool, and unique. We’re staying the whole night, at least until we get kicked out.”
The museum handed out glow sticks, which many used to cheat through the touch tunnel. “I went through the first time without the glow stick. It helps you a lot,” said Fran Catina of Fort Lee after checking out green night-vision videos of her and her friend navigating through the pitch-black touch tunnel. “Without the glow stick it’s very spooky.” That’s why she cheated her second time around.
The entire museum was open, including the Bodies Exhibit, where patrons probably should have held off on the drinks before looking at real organ structures and fetuses in tubes. “Things just got real. I need a drink,” said one patron walking out of the exhibit.
“We aimed to throw the best party in Jersey City and throw in a little science. Our primary day audience is families with kids, but we thought we should create an event in the evenings where adults can have fun too.” – Paul Hoffman
CEO dances with volcanoes
At the first volcanic eruption, Liberty Science Center CEO Paul Hoffman was on the dance floor. Formerly at Disney running its Discover Magazine and in the editorial department of the popular web interview series, Big Think, Hoffman came to Liberty Science Center as CEO five years ago and helped conceptualize the After Dark series. “We aimed to throw the best party in Jersey City and throw in a little science,” he said. “Our primary day audience is families with kids, but we thought we should create an event in the evenings where adults can have fun too.”
Hoffman was drinking a smoking-crater drink, made from vanilla vodka, Fireball whiskey, and apple juice over dry ice, creating a smoking, volcanic effect. Hoffman persuaded two women, who were intrigued by the drink, to try it themselves.
Last month was Dances with Drones, which had drones flying overhead snapping photos of the crowd and a real robotic R2-D2 roaming the center, which Hoffman said was “much more sophisticated,” than a Roomba topped with a painted garbage can.
Hoffman said October’s event will be “Zombie Fest,” which he describes as a party where “zombies meet beer.” “We’re going to show there is scientific proof for zombies,” he said.“This party will prove that zombies are real with certified scientists.” To the few skeptics out there who don’t believe that the world will end in a zombie apocalypse, this party is a must-show. In December, in celebration of the new Star Wars movie, the party will be a “Space Cantina.” R2-D2 is sure to roll through that one.
Reporter staff writer Samantha Meyers contributed to this story.
Rory Pasquariello may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.