I felt muffled vibrations from the bass even before the elevator doors closed. It was Saturday night in Vegas and I was at Hakkasan Nightclub. Which. Was. Thumping. This entire weekend had been months in the making — me, my friends, City of Sin — and now, as each floor drew us closer to the music, I could feel my excitement and heart rate steadily increasing.
After weeks of planning, everything was set. We were on the cusp of a big night.
“The thing about Vegas,” dance music artist Nick Miller, aka Illenium, told me a few days before my trip, “is that every venue has to constantly find ways to stay ahead of the curve. Whether they’re innovating with new technology or getting the biggest stars to perform, everyone is always striving for that next level. It’s a cool atmosphere to be a part of.”
His words reverberated as the elevator jolted to a stop and the doors slid open. The force of the music was like being hit with a wave of sound. My friends and closed ranks. It was a big night, not just for our crew but in general. The club was packed with people and the suited host trying to lead us to our booth was struggling to make a path through the crowd.
“I’ve been performing there since 2016,” he told me. “As an artist, I love to take advantage of the sound system and with the ‘Grid’ I get to be even more creative and artistic with the visual aspects of my show. The energy is even easier to tap into.”
The “Grid” Illenium is referencing is Hakkasan’s new multimillion-dollar, custom-built kinetic light installation, launched in May. Seeing it, with a sea of people, made it very clear what Illenium meant about tapping into energy. The Grid is made of triangles that essentially dance on the ceiling — transforming into an infinite combination of colors and shapes — all to the rhythms of the music. When it comes to life, people freaking lose it. 5,000 people, cheering and taking pictures. Which might seem like a stretch when you’re talking about lights, but I have to admit I lost myself for a few minutes too.
I zoned out just gazing up at the spectacle of it all. That must be at least part of the reason Steve Aoki, Calvin Harris, and Lil’ Jon all signed on for extended residencies (the other being $$$). Or why Hakkasan was willing to invest millions in the project.
“CHEERS!” one of my girlfriends said, rushing up to me from behind, clinking her glass with mine.
With that, we were off. Partying under an ever-changing canopy. And while the Grid itself was stunning, the real impact was the connection. Connection to music, to an experience, but most of all, to each other. We were sharing this super cool thing — a light show that pushed the boundaries of how technology and music collide — and that’s what made it so much fun.
Illenium cosigned this thought when I talked to him a few days later. “Music is a shared experience that everyone feels on an inner level. It’s seriously powerful when a night out can offer that kind of connection and unity.”
Uproxx received minor considerations from Hakkasan while working on this story. No travel expenses were covered. You can learn more about the Uproxx Press Trip policy here.