Our nightclubs seem to be evolving faster than we can dance to the beats — not that we’re complaining. In fact, all these new technologies and innovations that are continuing to transform the bar and nightclub industry give us even more excuse to keep going out — sleep when you’re dead, right?
Evidently, the industry is wary of us getting bored of the same old stuff every week, and each club wants to be the most forward-thinking, with talent-focused musical line-ups, and a policy of substance over style. So what is the future of our club technology? Well, there’s plenty of seriously tech-y cool stuff being integrated into clubs right now, with a steady focus on immersive, unifying, hands-in-the-air experiences.
Brazil’s The Year nightclub in Sao Paulo has recently introduced a cage suspended over the dance floor that is lit up by LED lights controlled by the movements and temperature of sweaty, shape-throwing clubbers. Courtesy of architect Guto Requena, the censor above the floor reacts to what’s happening on the floor, even the DJ spinning in the booth. Quite the psychedelic experience, man.
In London, Ministry of Sound turns 25 this year and what do we do when we hit half-way to fifty? Throw an awesome party of course, MOS has upped the sonic ante with their new Dolby Atmos® sound system. “We wanted to raise the bar even higher”, says Lohan Presencer, Ministry of SoundCEO. So for this celebration, they’ll be collaborating with Dolby Laboratories, Inc to bring Dolby Atmos® sound technology to dance music. “Patrons will be able to experience the future of dance music, with these multidimensional soundscapes that have never been heard before in a nightclub environment”, Presencer adds.
In layman’s terms please? Basically they’re lobbing an extra 60 massive speakers on top of their already colossal custom sound system, as well as providing 22 channels that will be supplemented by bespoke lighting. Dolby Atmos® will amazingly allow the DJ to control varying layers of the track, moving them around different areas and speakers around the club. A bit more bass here, a bit more hi-hat there.
Virtual Reality is starting to become a mover-and-shaker in the nightclub industry too. VR headsets offer a glimpse at how all-encompassing future-tech capabilities can be —pop these puppies on your head, and tech will do the rest. Absolut Nights is an exploratory series that launched in 2015 at London’s Bankside Vaults with “Electrik London”. Using VR technology, the Absolut series attempts to blur the boundaries between the physical and virtual worlds.
Creative studios Marshmallow Laser Feast and assorted visual collaborators mutate the main room experience with LED wall projections that are motion reactive — that is, they respond to sound and mood over the night. Patrons wear virtual reality headsets and are transported into a completely other dimension. It’s a game-changer in the nightclub world. Holo-Gauze is draped in front of the DJs and swirling graphics further distort reality. They’re really setting out to challenge what audiences expect from a night out. We’re expecting more of these in 2016, please.
Currently blowing the lid off festivals around the world is Despacio, the one-of-a-kind sound system-cum-travelling-discotheque designed in collaboration with LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy, renowned audio tech and recording engineer John Klett, and brothers David and Stephen Dewaele (2ManyDJs, Soulwax). The monster sound rig is built specifically to play vinyl and surrounds the audience in order to achieve a truly immersive sound and focus on the ravers experience instead of the stage spectacle — because with most gigs, people are facing toward the DJs, so it becomes a performance; whereby the intention with Despacio is to make sound the star.
And we’re pretty certain they’ve nailed their ambitions to do just that: Despacio is comprised of eight speaker stacks, each standing at 11 feet tall, 48 McIntosh amplifiers at £22K a piece, and close to 50,000 watts averaging 100db on the dance floor. This is some party. Since its debut, Despacio has featured at many more events around the UK and are even headed to Coachella this year for an “all weekend long” run. We’ve no doubt it won’t be the last we see of it either, this is the most impressive and ambitious sound system in the world.
Out of the nightclubs and into the fields: future tech is about to enhance the festival experience: TommorrowWorld festival is a completely cashless festival. Tickets are issued as “wearable tech wristbands” and have a plethora of abilities in order to make the entire festival weekend as hassle-free as possible. Simply scan your way into the grounds and use it for all transactions such as food and drink. They can also sync with those around you and connect you on Facebook later so your festival friendship becomes official. No Facebook stalking necessary.
Furthermore, these same wristbands include a responsive LED light that can be remotely triggered by the festival, producing insane light shows from the crowd at any time of the set. Speaking of drastically improving the overall vibe of the festival, those at home who couldn’t attend are in good fortune. Streaming the event is one thing, but experiencing it on a virtual level is way better.
Enter YouVisit. YouVisit’s senior director of operations, PJ Morreale, set up a bespoke camera rig of multiple DSLR cameras with the ability to capture high-res, interactive photos with 360 degree rotation. Using their browser or smartphone, fans at home can drag their way around every Tomorrowland stage, campground, art exhibit and more. The depth of experience is incredible: you can focus on one point then twist your head right around to explore the crowd, that hot dog stand and awesome sunset. Fans can even relive the experience post-festival with the VT being released on the web later.
This type of digital engagement is important also as it keeps the audience connected throughout the year, coming back to the next event. From lighting to visuals to live streams, technology has become one of the most important roles in the festival and live music experience.
[LEAD IMAGE: The Year nightclub]