To step into Light is to encounter a nightclub transformed—and we’re not just talking about the pure architectural aesthetics of gutting the former Rumjungle space in Mandalay Bay. Nay, Light appears to be a world where the vibrancy of a Cirque du Soleil show encompasses the entire space, set to the soundtrack of top electronic dance music talent. Music/Marketing Director Amy Thomson (also known in the EDM world as Swedish House Mafia’s manager, among other notables) sheds, well, light, on what the experience will comprise when the megaclub opens this spring.
“When I heard [Cirque's] Guy Laliberté call this club his new laboratory and that I was going to work with Production Manager Michel Granger, Creative Content Director Jean Guibert and Creative Director Hassan El Hajjami, 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 dancefloor 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 set-up—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.”
Patrons enter via a tunnel curving to the right as the room opens up into a left-oriented three-story high space. It offers unobstructed sightlines of the highest-resolution LED screens available, amid layers of dimensional glass chambers that can be filled with light, smoke, projectors and even performers as Cirque works with Moment Factory (the same team behind Madonna’s MDNA tour and Tiësto’s Club Life), and John Lyons Systems on the sound and lighting.
“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,’ ” says the fast-talking Brit Thomson.
Add multiple hanging points for numerous performance possibilities, plus an on-the-ground troupe of costumed performers interacting with clubbers. “We’re also hoping that they’ll be many uninvited characters—which will be the people that come to Light. You can feel welcome to dress up like [a character], or you can come in your jeans and have a great time. You don’t have to feel like you bought a theater ticket. You can join in as much as you want, or you can have the club experience you might prefer and get absolutely smashed.”
And there’ll be plenty of space at the 3,000 capacity, 38,000-square-foot club that has two additional levels of mezzanines wrapping around the space, as well as 98 VIP tables and three bars. “It has the largest GA space in Vegas, which is really important to us because they’re essentially the energy that switches on the Light. Forget the DJ for a minute, forget Cirque du Soleil for a minute, that’s what counts," Thomson says. "The GA experience is world-class and the VIP experience is second to none,” she says, noting that Light also touts the largest dancefloor in the city.
DJ lineup works in tiers
So what about those DJs? Thomson confirms Sebastian Ingrosso has been an integral part of the creative process and will be a resident, as will be Zedd and even Baauer.
“The guys we’ve chosen to work with within the DJ collectives were really hand-picked. They’re in tiers, but it’s so the lower-tier DJs are getting just as many great spots as the top tiers to make sure that the small ones get love,” Thomson says. “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 at times—that’s a fucking art not to be a diva. They are the masters of this show and the show includes every single person on the dancefloor."
Five of the major residents will have custom shows for their sets, as well Light commissioning additional concepts. “The LED is [the VJ’s] paintbrush and it’s live every night,” Thomson says. As a hint, “Island Fever” and “Champagne Room” are two of the concepts. “But when I say ‘Champagne Room,’ it’s like Champagne coming out of girl’s eyes and I'm astounded at what Moment Factory will be bringing every week.”
Catering to the broader clubgoers
But while the aesthetics and experience will set Light apart, will the actual soundtrack follow the formula of keeping the tourists happy with rote commercial tunes? “From a manager’s point of view and a customer’s point of view—nothing to do with this club for one minute—Vegas is a vicious circle,” Thomson says. “The crowd in so many ways ends up demanding the hits because they’re not getting energy from anywhere else. It is the ‘DJ! Deliver to me, right now, this minute, or we’re leaving [attitude].’”
One of the selling points for Thomson was Light’s overall experience is the all-around clubgoer. “If you break some new music while those fuckers are coming down from the ceiling, the YouTube clip becomes a real piece of soundtrack to you then. We’re hoping that we can do it—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 lightning’s coming. I know the guys are dropping. 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 fucking music to my ears.”