The VooDoo Lounge at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas doesn't so much sit on the infamous strip as it lords over it. You see, the VooDoo Lounge — inspired by the culture of New Orleans — is on the hotel's 51st floor, so guests party the night away with one of the best views in Sin City. It is a double-decker nightclub with two stories outside, so the revelers can enjoy the ambiance of the lounge as well as the temperate Nevada nights.
That view just got better, courtesy of XS Lighting & Sound Inc., who pulled out all the stops for a new lighting installation that lit up and highlighted a previously unused space around the perimeter of the club. Around the railing of the outdoor patio is an area that Dougie Lazer, founder and principal of XS Lighting & Sound, jokingly calls a moat, “to catch drunks if they get too close to the railing and fall over.”
In order to highlight this darkened zone, Lazer chose 20 Color Kinetics ColorBlast® LED fixtures. “The whole exterior of the club will light up, and we can chase these from one side to the other in a wave-like pattern, almost like a light tornado doing a circle,” Lazer says. “Then, we're going to incorporate the lights in the club and bring it inside. I don't know if people will notice it, but it'll look pretty cool.”
Aside from looking cool, one of Lazer's concerns was also maintenance, especially important since this is on the exterior of a skyscraper in the middle of the desert — who wants to go outside and change light bulbs? “With the [LED] bulbs lasting 11 years, I haven't had a problem with them yet overheating or with water damage,” Lazer says. “When you put in regular fixtures, and you need people to change the bulbs, especially in nightclubs, they're not good like that. The bulbs go out, and nobody changes them, and you have a dark area here or a dark area there, and it looks awful. When you use LEDs, you know they're not going to go out any time soon, and there won't be any maintenance issues to speak of.”
Lazer knows how well LEDs survive in harsh environments from his own experience. He used LEDs in a billboard that went up in Times Square and lasted for three years without any problems. “They wanted to go with LEDs because the union guys were charging $100 an hour to change bulbs,” he says, “and we didn't have a fixture go out the whole time."
The biggest challenge that Lazer faced in updating the VooDoo Lounge's lighting was a miscommunication with the owner, who thought that the club already had a board that controlled all the club's lighting. However, it turned out that the lights were run off of a pre-programmed power supply; Lazer had to overnight a Color Kinetics iPlayer® so the system could be programmed in time for the opening on November 4. The iPlayer is like a mini-computer that can store eight different programs which are triggered via a keypad. “You can make the light show one-minute long or 24-hours long,” he says. “You can make sure the lights won't do the same thing twice in a night, so that the patrons aren't seeing the same light show again and again.”
The actual on-site programming was performed by XS manager and head technician Mike Fedele, who literally got the party started when he began programming at 10pm. “I like to program the lights when the club is up and running so I can get a feel for the atmosphere,” he explains. “It makes it easier to grasp what the owners are looking for. As soon as I started doing a few things, people were cheering. It definitely livened up the crowd!” Fedele added that he prefers using the PC-based iPlayer as opposed to lighting consoles because it makes his job easier. “If you know lighting, everything moves nicely and smoothly,” he explains. “I like the iPlayer because it gives me more maneuverability to do whatever I want with the lighting.”
As impressive as the VooDoo Lounge was before the new lighting installation, the upgrade has not only pleased the cheering patrons, but the manager as well: “It's a billion dollar view!” exalts Pauly Freedman, director of nightclubs for Harrah's Entertainment, the company that runs the VooDoo Lounge, among other venues in Las Vegas. Considering some of the gamblers that frequent the Lounge, he may be on the money.