The Venetian Hotel Resort and Casino in Las Vegas recently expanded its TAO Asian Bistro and Nightclub by transforming its west side pool deck — used during the day as a European-style bathing pool — into an outdoor nightclub, TAO Beach.

Architecturally conceived by Thomas Schoos Design, Inc., the club was designed with opulence and exoticism in mind, featuring all the amenities one might expect to accommodate visitors' “what happens here, stays here” hunger: lavish cabanas, Asian-inspired day beds, a larger-than-life Buddha statue, floating Chinese lanterns, and 14'-tall fire columns.

FBP Group, owned by Frank Heinrich and Bob Athey, were contracted to produce a first-class A/V design and turned to lighting designer Matthew Paupst to design the lighting scheme. “TAO Las Vegas came to FBP Group to produce a world-class outdoor nightclub that was stylish and able to be used for its dual purpose,” says Paupst. “The main goal was to create an environment that would not be visually obtrusive during the day and, at night, would morph into a nightclub, entertaining a few thousand people each weekend.”

Paupst used a combination of Martin MAC 250 Entours and Atomic 3000 strobes for the main lighting, as well as dozens of Acclaim X-Bars (both 1250mm and 500mm). Acclaim X-Cubes are installed for underwater lighting, and X-Sticks are used for recessed lighting to accent the Buddha. Additional enhancements include 300' of red high intensity rope light for accents under the seating slab and Le Maitre Radiance Hazers.

Paupst notes that he uses the second gobo wheel on the MAC 250 Entours “to add texture to some architectural features, mainly the large Buddha statue that sits on top of a fountain feature,” he says. “I added underwater LEDs to accent it a bit and allow for chases that draw attention to the statue and DJ booth.”

The Entours are spread out over the underside of preexisting trellises on the Venetian pool deck. The Atomic strobes are placed two on each side under the trellises, spread out over the main dance floor. “The entire deck is considered a dance floor, which is why I spread out the fixtures so much,” Paupst says. “Plus, two of the Entours are dedicated to nothing more than providing effects in the actual pool.” The system is controlled by an MA Lighting grandMA micro feeding two Doug Fleanor Optos that split out to the large LED system and automated lights over two universes. Acclaim Ray Power Supplies are also installed, and a Lyntec Panel is used for power control. The Martin fixtures were supplied by PRG Las Vegas. Acclaim Lighting provided the LED system.

No install is complete without its share of challenges, of course. “The biggest challenge was the fact that this venue already existed, and we had to add to it without interfering with the existing structure,” Paupst says. “For example, the electricians had to run power and data to each of the trellises, but instead of using straight conduit runs, they had to use seal tight flexible conduit and actually follow the curves of the trellis. Where I was able to place fixtures was very precise because I didn't want to interfere with the architectural designers' concepts and overall look. The goal was to have a nightclub system that disappears when it's not being used. This was a hurdle because, unlike most nightclub builds or any new venue build, there are months of planning and developing that go into designing structural supports, electrical layouts, and lighting positions. With TAO Beach, I had to use what was there and make something great from it, which is always a challenge. I love a good challenge.”