From strobe lights and glitter balls on the dance floor, Amigo Entertainment Technologies Inc. has gone on to provide big companies with architectural, industrial, and entertainment lighting and audio systems; special effects, such as digital water screens; and even piped-in music. Chairman and chief executive officer Amando Zamora—Wopsy to friends— is an innovative entrepreneur who constantly reinvents himself to keep pace with the changing technology.

To baby boomers, his name is synonymous with “disco.” In its halcyon days, if an operator wanted to put up a discotheque, Zamora was the go-to guy for the lights, sounds, and music and he’d create a veritable field trip to a sonic fantasy land.

“They called me ‘Disco King Maker’ or ‘The Real Disco King.’ I found that baduy (tacky),” he says. Even so, there was some truth to that: he equipped over 200 discos here and abroad.

Zamora never studied sound engineering or lighting design; he says the talent came naturally. He acknowledges his father, Arturo, as one of the biggest influences in his life. First, he notes, the older Arturo gave him a unique nickname. “The day I was born, while my mother was in the delivery room, my father was reading a book about the illegal Italian immigrants in New York. He came across the acronym WOPS, which means without papers. That’s how I got to be called Wopsy.”

Even as his reputation grew, Zamora kept a low profile. He explains that credit wasn’t his to claim, since the success of a disco establishment depended equally on three parties—the landlord, the impresario, and the music and technical equipment provider.

Zamora strongly influenced the industry with his music choices and illustrations of ambiance. He veered away from American music, funky rhythms, and gimmickry—its disposability, banality, and sexual undercurrents. He kept disco goers on the dance floor and moving to cosmopolitan European sounds, which was more melodious, and imbued with instrumental passages and intervals of pure rhythms. In that benevolent space, people felt free to be themselves.

Zamora also says that all that time, he never touched alcohol, and he never danced on the dance floor (he still doesn’t know how), even during the disco years. He just made people do so.

Zamora likewise engineered the system in such a way that the people felt the throbbing music on the floor, but could still carry a conversation without raising their voices and straining their ears.

Nowadays, he says, it’s just too noisy in such places…


Read more about Wopsy Zamora in the cover story of Asian Dragon Magazine’s January-February 2015 issue.

[Photograph: Wig Tysmans]

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