Las Vegas Prepares to See the Light

An exclusive first look at the Light Group and Cirque du Soleil’s next nightlife collaboration

Stepping into what will soon be Light, one finds a nightclub transformed—and not just the architectural aesthetics of the gutted former Rumjungle space. Here, the vibrancy of partner Cirque du Soleil will fill the space with a party set to the soundtrack of the Light Group’s top electronic-music talent. Light music/marketing director Amy Thomson (also known in the electronic-dance-music world as manager to Swedish House Mafia, among other notables) shed some, well, light on what clubgoers can expect when the megaclub that started it all for Light Group in Las Vegas is re-imagined this spring in Mandalay Bay.

“When I heard [Cirque du Soleil founder] Guy Laliberté call this club his new laboratory, I jumped at it. In a world of DJ production going bigger every day, this was a chance to work with the best, and they have embraced this dance floor on every level,” Thomson says. “I’ve seen most clubs in the world that are any good, and I would say that this has the highest production setup—there are all the normal club special effects, full-color lasers and all of that good stuff—but the key to it is going to be the LED structure.”

Light guests will enter via a tunnel, which curves to the right as the room opens up into a gaping three-story space that offers unobstructed views of the highest-resolution LED screens. Dangling from the ceiling, three-dimensional glass chambers can be filled with light, smoke, projectors and even performers. Cirque du Soleil is working with Moment Factory—the team behind Madonna’s MDNA tour and Tiësto’s Club Life—and John Lyons Systems on the sound and lighting. Additional ceiling anchors mean even more performance possibilities.

“You could have a fish tank and it looks like it’s 25 feet deep and the costumes are fish, then they’re kind of swimming out. The screens have hooks on them so it gives the dancers, trapeze artists and acrobats the ability to run up and slither down walls and ‘swim’!” explains Thomson, an enthusiastic, fast-talking Brit. “LED [panels] then come out and above the whole dance floor in a shattered pattern—it’s not straight—it’s like heaven, like someone threw LED on the ceiling!”

Meanwhile, on the ground, a troupe of costumed performers will interact with clubgoers, all 3,000 of them who can fit into the 38,000-square-foot club. Two mezzanines wrap around the space, which will offer three bars and accommodate 98 VIP tables. “It has the largest general-admission space in Vegas, which is really important to us because they’re essentially the energy that switches on the Light,” Thomson says, not shying away from the pun. “Forget the DJ for a minute, forget Cirque du Soleil for a minute, that’s what counts. The GA experience is world-class and the VIP experience is second to none,” she says, noting that Light will also host the largest dance floor in the city.

So what about those DJs? Thomson confirms that Sebastian Ingrosso has been an integral part of the creative process and will be a Light resident, as will be Zedd and even Baauer. “All had to have one common goal, which was that they’re all stars, but they’re all comfortable not being the star 100 percent of the time. That is a skill. So if you’re going to be here and have eight things going on around you and all these visuals, maybe the [performers] are upstaging you—that’s a fucking art, not to be a diva,” she laughs.

Five of the major residents will have custom shows for their sets, with Light commissioning additional concepts. Hint: “Island Fever” and “Champagne Room” are two of them. “But when I say ‘Champagne Room,’ it’s like Champagne coming out of girls’ eyes. I’m astounded at what Moment Factory will be bringing every week.”

The aesthetics and experience will set Light apart. But will the actual soundtrack follow the formula of keeping the tourists happy with rote commercial tunes? It was a big selling point for Thomson that the Light experience will happen all around the clubgoer. More of an ebb and flow, the DJ can break out some new music while ceding the attention to the performers.

“I’m not saying either that people are going to come in and get two hours of new music, ‘cause this is Vegas—but I’m hoping it becomes an environment where DJs feel like ‘You know what? I can cut loose for a while. I know the [virtual] lightning’s coming. I know the guys are dropping [from the ceiling]. I know the lighting guy’s with me.’ Or they start making stuff for the drop. One of the guys is already saying he’s making a completely new piece of music for his intro, and then he’s going to release that piece of music. Hearing stuff like that, being in it as long as I’ve been in it, that’s music to my ears.”