At Revolution, even the bar is psychedelically charged.
Cirque Du Soleil pops out a matching Love lounge.
Photos by Angela Weiss
The L, as well as the O, are big enough that their bottoms form seats. The pink, floor-to-ceiling, backlit letters of REVOLUTION announce the club on the Mirage Hotel & Casino’s main gambling floor, nearby but not adjacent to Cirque Du Soliel’s popular Beatles-themed show, LOVE. Loungers sit on the letters, and even more sit in the semi-private Abbey Road bar, so named for the zebra-crossed floor also featured on the cover of the band’s eleventh album. Nearly every facet of this bar and the lounge behind it is a visual reference, nee pun, on some aspect of Beatles lyrics, films, and history, but you need not be a Beatles superfan to enjoy the psychedelically charged atmosphere. In fact, all you need is…
In these days of bands as brands, it’s possible to drink a rockaccino at the Kiss Coffeeshop in South Carolina, or to see Prince in his own nightclub, 3121, at the Rio in Las Vegas. But LOVE is, perhaps, the first rock-band-themed dance club. Creative designers Cirque Du Soleil hope to draw Fab Four lovers and youngsters alike with their fun, whimsical retro-theming.
The Time Difference
Daily operations of the club go to INK, a Toronto-based nightclub and restaurant company that operates Guverment/Kool Haus, Ultra Supper Club, This Is London, Lux, Kindred Spirits, Pantages Suites Hotel & Spa, and Dragonfly. Director of operations Bill Hillman said that this was the company’s first U.S. project and, surprisingly, the biggest challenge was “the time difference.”
The 5,000-square-foot Revolution leans most heavily on the Beatles’ “Sergeant Pepper” era, forgoing the more earnest early mop-top look for their tuned-in later personae. The lounge is packed with cool technological gadgets and furnishings either sleek or plush, offering a truly enjoyable and non-intimidating evening experience.
While the LOVE show opened well over a year ago, Revolution’s grand opening occurred in late January 2007. It was far behind schedule because of the numerous hands in the pot, which of course included the Beatles Apple Corps Ltd. approval on all plans. Cirque’s senior director of creation, Jean-Francois Bouchard, personally oversaw the design of the club, working with architect Stephanie Cardinal of Montreal’s Humà Design, who in turn worked with sound designer Francois (Frankie) Desjardin, head audio supervisor of the Las Vegas arm of CDA Production.
“In the bar, there are backlit glass and steel panels, and all these elements that make the room interesting visually. But there are no flat surfaces. I had to distribute even sound in the room somehow, so we had to make some compromises,” said Desjardin, who handles sound design for Celine Dion’s Cirque show by day. “You know architects, they don’t want to see any speakers. But if you want a full DJ system, you have to. It would defeat the whole purpose of the fixture. So overhead, you see speakers, but not all of them.” The speakers are further hidden by 30,000 dichroic crystals strung to look like a sky of diamonds glittering beneath the club’s understated lighting.
But the boxes – a combination of the VariO-rotatable-horn-equipped UPJ-1P and M’elodie ultra-compact curvilinear array, both self-powered options from Meyer Sound – make the most of being heard and not seen. “For me, the choice of Meyer was logical. I’ve been using their products for a long time and knew what to expect,” said Desjardin. “Their speakers are really musical at every sound pressure level, and really reliable. For a place that’s open 10 hours every day, that’s important. And since every speaker’s got its own built-in amplifiers, cable runs become less important and you don’t have to bother with an amp room hundreds of feet away.”
A view of Revolution's VIP tables.
International DJ Programming
Cirque music director/head DJ Alain Vinet helped design the DJ booth, which sits between the two VIP sections in the middle of the room, flanked by two M’elodie arrays. The booth is stocked with two Technics 1200 Mach 5s, two Pioneer CDJ-800s, a Pioneer DJM-1000 mixer and a Yamaha 01V96V2 digital mixing console. “Our Yamaha board has mic inputs because the trend these days is for the DJ to bring some live musician, like a conga player, to jam with,” Desjardin said. “We can record the whole set live. We output to the main system and then to ProTools.”
Desjardin also uses Music Fidelity RIAA turntable pre-amps, to increase the quality of the turntable’s sonic output. “Those pre-amps are really great, and can accept a lot of different cartridge voltage output without distorting,” he says. “Also, the fact we were using external pre-amp gave us more flexibility on the patch of the Pioneer mixer.”
Meyer’s DSP-based Galileo speaker management system presets Revolution’s two sonic scenes. “We can change the configuration to go from a uniform lounge sound – quiet enough for conversation – to a full DJ sound set up,” says Desjardin. “In the lounge mode, all the zones are more or less equivalent. The acoustical output of the UPJ-1P and M’elodie speakers are equal, which creates a uniform sound level all over the venue. In DJ mode, the M’elodie arrays flanking the DJ booth become the primary source, and the other M’elodies and UPJ-1Ps have a delay and level attenuation to support the main arrays. This way we focus the attention toward the DJ booth, and suddenly the lounge becomes a nightclub.”
From the lounge’s opening at the un-ultra hour of six p.m., to its close at four a.m., the vibe shifts from Beatles-themed to an international mix of dance music. Vinet spent a year finding cover versions of Beatles songs for a database. “There’s a server in Montreal that has all the DJ playlists on it, and there are two computers in Revolution, one at the DJ booth and one at the bar,” says Desjardin. “The playlists can be called up and downloaded to the computer. This way, there can be a constantly changing playlist for, say, five to ten p.m., and live DJs for the rest of the night.”
Physical Video Graffiti
The phrases “ultra-lounge” and “family night” don’t usually go along, but Revolution was created in part to serve the more than 1,000 staff members of the five Cirque shows currently in Las Vegas. On any given Monday, Mystère make-up artist turned DJ Sarah FAB gets the floors packed with all the fabulous creatures of the Cirque. Bill Hillman said it often stretches their “classy/chic” dress code. “It’s a little wacky because people are coming straight from the shows so it’s always a surprise to see what they’re wearing.”
Amorphous white leather lounges, red bean bag chairs and white plastic scoop barstools offer patrons places to lounge and relax for free, but the real fun is up in two VIP sections. There, seven interactive tables allow VIPs to draw images with their hands, which are then projected via Panasonic PT-D5600U and PT-DW5000U digital projectors on the lounge’s central “graffiti wall.” These infrared, $150,000-a-pop tables utilize technology normally used for science center displays, re-purposed by Cirque’s Bouchard for a nightclub environment. Budding artists have two minutes to make images on their screen, which are then sent to the club’s consoles – de facto art critics – who approve them for projection. When CSI was there, graffiti ran from innocuous hearts and smiley faces to the desperate “Two guys with a bottle – girls wanted.”
Another great way to meet girls is using the bathroom. The two sets of stalls are separate, but meet in the middle to share a giant circular trough sink. Although there’s the handy lady and gent on the wall, Hillman says that’s just a suggestion. Even more radical than free love, the revolution here is “use any free stall.”
Although tie-die wearing cocktail waitresses will get your beverage if you wait, those who belly up to the long backlit bar are in for a special treat. Revolution forgoes moving light fixtures and megaclub flash, and its main lightshow comes from behind the bar. On a wall sculpture with four submarine-like portholes, four Digital Projection IVision SX projectors play a two-hour loop of programming that includes the figurative – things like the Beatles shadows walking – to an oozy-woozy seemingly freeform run of colors. It’s enough to make you think one of the diamonds in that sky had fallen in your mouth. The Revolution here is that one can have that experience right inside a Vegas experience, without any of the fear and loathing.