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Cirque du Soleil [ You are here: Grand Chapiteau | Creations | Revolution Lounge ]




The Concept
Abbey Road Bar
Shining Bright
Interactive Tables
Yellow Submarine


Love is All You Need...

The Beatle-maniacal experience started by Cirque du Soleil's LOVE and its top-selling soundtrack CD has now been spun off into a club, the REVOLUTION Lounge, which adjoins the production within the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Created by a team of Montreal designers under the direction of Jean-François Bouchard, Cirque’s Director of Creation, it is a space bursting with innovations in multimedia graphics and technology. Taking their cue from the 1960s, they decided to emphasize elements such as the transition from black and white to colour, supreme love, psychedelic graphics, and the return to handmade objects, among other things. Already, the Beatles Revolution Lounge, the first 24/7 club environment Cirque has designed, represents a break from the tried-and-true Hard Rock Café or rock museum treatment. Furthermore, the lounge moves away from anachronistic moving-light fixtures and other club standards to tell the story of the group in a more abstract, Cirque fashion — one that stresses communal interaction and technological interactivity at a level no other nightspot is at — all built around Beatles music, as well as the music that inspired them or has been inspired by them.  
Sneak Peek: December 2006
Media Opening: January 17, 2007
VIP Opening: January 18, 2007
Grand Opening: January 19, 2007
Acquired (Light): November 13, 2008
Closed: October 14, 2015
Location: Mirage, Las Vegas

[ Concept | Abbey Road Bar | Shining Bright |
| Interactive Tables | Yellow Submarine | Soundscape ]

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    The evolution to Revolution was, in a way, a simple one, explains Cirque senior director of creation, Jean-Francois Bouchard. “The Beatles reflect the two concepts: love and revolution,” he says. “If you look at the word ‘revolution’ in reverse, you see the word ‘love’ spelled out. That little fact had a strong influence on us.” So strong that the Cirque design team paid homage to it, with wall-sized letters that separate the Abbey Road Bar, the entrance point into the club's other spaces, from the casino.

    "It was clear that we didn’t want a museum-type experience," says van Genuchten. "Instead of displaying memorabilia and treating The Beatles like relics, we focused on what they stood for."

    Development of the Revolution Lounge, which has capacity for 400 patrons, began in March 2005. "The inspiration for Revolution [might have] began with The Beatles’ message of love, but the atmosphere is a modern twist on their era of freedom, self-expression and free love," says Jean-Francois Bouchard, creative director of the Cirque du Soleil Experience. To turn the message of love into something as concrete as a commercially viable bar, Bouchard called on various creative teams and individuals, most of whom are part of Cirque du Soleil’s extended family, including architect Stephanie Cardinal of Huma Design; lighting designer Nol van Genuchten; Sakchin Bessette, creative director of Moment Factory, which handled the multimedia and video component; and Billy Keays, creative director of Switzerland-based Virtango and Associates, which put together the interactive tables and video elements for the central column graffiti. (Quebec DJ Alain Vinet is the musical director.)

    “There was no way to squeeze the body of The Beatles' work into the square footage we had,” van Genuchten says. Cardinal explains that the purely conceptual look of Revolution begins with a '50s ambience black-and-white from when The Beatles were starting out and how viewers first saw them on TV. “You're in a steel black box. The furniture is white, and Nol's lighting has a white tone. As people enter the lounge and bring love into the space, the light evolves in phases into an intense pink. We enter in revolution, then go out in love, all together now,” van Genuchten says with a laugh.

    Abbey Road Bar

    To get to the REVOLUTION Lounge, you have to go through the Abbey Road Bar. Open 24 hours a day, the bar is both a reference point and a gathering spot. Between the two, the word "REVOLUTION" is spelled out in massive, 10-feet x 50-feet letters big enough that people can sit in the curve of some of the letters, four of which are inverted to spell “LOVE” backwards. The concept is reinforced by the inscription of Beatles song lyrics about amour on another luminescent wall just around the corner. Here Moment Factory has revived graffiti from the actual Abbey Road. The result: keywords and lyrics from Beatles songs are displayed on a screening panel, their colours fading in and out to create an effect of movement. In reference to the street and asphalt, concrete and slate dominate the surroundings.

    Beyond the bar, patrons will find enough Beatles-suggestive entertainment to keep them busy "eight days a week". The REVOLUTION Lounge itself measures 715 square meters (7,700 sq. ft.) and is divided into several smaller spaces.

    Shining Bright

    The diamond-shaped Revolution Lounge itself is the imaginative byproduct of the crash of one of Lucy in the Sky's precious gems into the club, and sparkles with an entrance ceiling made of 35,000 glinting and glittering pieces of custom-cut dichroic glass. At the centre, the architect Stéphanie Cardinal used the three support pillars to create a central point of attraction. Inspired by the song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", she surrounded the pillars with triangular panels, some of which are made of gleaming steel, while others are white screens. With this covering, she has transformed each pillar into the point of a diamond frozen as it shatters, dragging the ceiling with it in its fall.

    For the lighting designer, the long and winding road to work his magic in the space found its focus in the main lounge. “It has a central column that refracts into the ceiling, and Stephanie had all these panels that look like the crashing of the diamond, so that area I chose to make the focal point of the lighting. The exploded diamond lent itself to small shards and particles and is a perfect environment to shoot my lights from,” van Genuchten says. “Dichroic glass seemed the ideal medium to work with; depending on what angle light hits it from, the perception of color is changed. And it lends itself to the communal concept with the artwork guests create on the tables. It didn't seem logical to do a space where the color changed because I decided to change it. The dichroic space not quite timeless, but more in tune with the time period we were working with — the 60s — but then again, in a contemporary kind of way.”

    But a dichroic space is also unconventional, and there was no guarantee it would work as intended. The lighting designer took a box of glass, learned how to cut it, and strung together a maquette “with fishing line and gobs of glue.” His enthusiasm won over his co-designers, but led to what he calls an “Oh-God-what-did-I-do?” moment. “I really have to thank Joshua Alemany of Rosco,” he says of the company's colors and patterns manager who supplied the order. “If he hadn't believed in it, it wouldn't have happened.” Van Genuchten and several Mirage employees spent weeks hanging the many dichroic tiles to the ceiling, each linked with bead chain, “the kind of highly reflective, silver chain attached to the plug of a bathroom sink or bathtub.” The designer came to think of his creation as a she, and readied her for debut.

    “I needed a really, really tiny RGB source that I could stick into the ceiling to lay a layer of color there,” van Genuchten says. “And I'm also shooting through the glass from these cracks from a high angle with MR16 sources that are on two-channel track lights. This gives you all this play onto the floor of color and onto people.” Pleased and relieved that “she” worked well once the lighting was ignited, with only modest assistance from the AMX show control setup, the designer recalls with a laugh, “She decides her imagery herself. She has a mind of her own and can only be guarded, not tamed.”

    LED products from Illumivision, including the Robbielight — named for Robbie Williams as it was custom-designed for his tour — Light Wave Bar, and Smartcove complement the ceiling and the interactive pieces below. The Robbielights are the ceiling pieces, with the Light Wave Bars highlighting the wall installation and the Smartcove linear LED RGB fixtures tucked behind banquettes. The LED RGB units are controlled by a Pharos lighting playback controller, with the incandescents run off an ETC Unison architectural control system. The lighting and video systems integration was by Julie Mausey and Jason Goldenberg at PRG and Tom Ruzika and Michael Romero from the Irvine, CA-based Ruzika Company. The LD also designed the restroom chandelier, which was fabricated by Lumid.

    Interactive Tables

    The show below the ceiling is entirely at the fingertips of club patrons. Replicating the real-life Abbey Road that is adorned with messages from fans on the fence outside Apple Studios, there are seven interactive tables in the steel-paneled, diamond-like lounge, where patrons can draw and scribble onto the glass surfaces with their fingers. The tables were designed and made by Bill Keays of Studio Virtango, in Switzerland, in with David Small of the Small Design Firm, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The surface of each table is separated into two touch-sensitive screens, one on which patrons can draw with their fingers (the G-zone), while the other reacts to glasses and objects placed on it (the O-zone).

    The drawings produced automatically and randomly take on the colours of pre-established patterns (flowers, streaks, waves, etc.). Throughout the evening, staff members called “Consuls” wander among the patrons carrying rings that allow them to upload certain creations onto the “screens” on the central pillars. Offering an interactive experience was one of the main objectives of the entire team, the idea being to allow patrons to experience the kind of close-knit community spirit of the 60s that led to the birth of the hippie movement.

    “Multiple people can draw on the tables at the same time,” explains Keays from Virtango. “The graffiti accumulates and gets encapsulated. The multitouch-sensing tables, which can seat eight people, have vision systems inside them, which recognize objects on the table, from people's fingers to different-sized glasses. They can also tell what's not a glass and what's not a finger, which was a real big technical challenge and different from a normal touchscreen. That ability to read the surface of the table is passed to another processor that can generate graphics in the correct location. In terms of the graphics, which are in constant motion, there are a variety of motifs, textures, and styles the tables go through in the course of an evening — people have no commands whatsoever to have to learn, which was a real necessity. It had to be easy, friendly, and beautiful, but not obsessive to use. They're a real treat for anyone who comes in there.”

    Even the unisex restrooms get into the act as they are situated around a centralized circular washbasin placed beneath a scalloped chandelier also constructed from dichroic glass. Another shared experience takes place here in which signs for ‘ladies’ and ‘gentlemen’ direct guests to one side or the other of a large column, to the rear of which is a single communal space. Unisex toilets are hardly what one expects in corporately managed Las Vegas, and van Genuchten admits to perpetrating an intentional mindscrew. He laughs when recalling the surprised faces of visitors anticipating privacy and suddenly facing members of the opposite sex around a large fountain. According to the designers, the spirit of freedom and love is incompatible with separate facilities, and the relaxed attitude of The Beatles era is entirely appropriate in this context.

    Yellow Submarine

    The magical mystery tour, where psychedelic-era décor gets a contemporary finish, continues with a “Yellow Submarine” museum wall placed behind the bar; the 75-foot-long by 12-foot-high volumetric wall has four portholes cut into it, where projections of The Beatles and other video media play in the light and shadows with a three-dimensional vividness. “Jean-Francois wanted something both psychedelic and contemporary,” Bessette explains. “There are four portholes, made from SACO LEDs, in our ‘yellow submarine.’ We printed over that wall relief and lit it on a steep angle to create shadows. Another light comes straight on to eliminate all those shadows, and the rhythm between the two lights creates a movement on the wall. We created eight video sequences, ranging from two to 15 minutes each, that are mapped exactly onto the relief of the wall, in different patterns. One, for example, plays off the song “Blackbird," while another concerns the British Invasion, in an abstract fashion. Space was very tight, so the images from our four projectors, which are in a [Dataton] Watchout playback system that we programmed, are bounced off mirrors to hit the wall. There are also two two-way mirrors in each porthole, which create a highly dimensional, infinite effect with the images.” These different multimedia platforms support 12 different graphic animations in a style inspired by the 60s and The Beatles.


    Created by DJ Alain Vinet, the musical atmosphere is based on the number four (a symbolic number: four Beatles, four periods in their careers, four letters in the word LOVE, etc.). The first stage features the songs of The Beatles themselves, followed by their sources of inspiration at the time, then the covers they’ve inspired, and, finally, contemporary techno music. Each of four stages features a distinctive lighting display, gradually moving from black and white to hot pink.

    * * *

    Its combination of a stimulating, eye-catching design, which has the Apple Corp's seal of approval and a groundbreaking application of high tech has put the Revolution Lounge on the top of the charts where Vegas nightclub destinations are concerned. “What you don't see a lot of in Las Vegas are places where guests of all ages mix and mingle. That's the best thing about it,” says Cardinal, readying another appropriate play on words based on a song title. “Cirque and The Beatles are helping people ‘come together.’”

    At the time of its January 19, 2007 opening, the 5,000-square-foot interactive lounge was operated by INK, a premier nightclub operator out of Toronto. On November 13, 2008, the lounge was acquired by Light Group. And for a time, the REVOLUTION Lounge, along with Gold Lounge and Light Nightclub, were huge successes. However, two market changes affected Cirque du Soleil's foray into the hospitality business. First, in December 2014 the Hakkasan Group (a worldwide hospitality company with establishments across North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa) purchased The Light Group, who operated Cirque's hospitality properties in Las Vegas. And Second, the April 2015 sale of Cirque to controlling entity TPG Capital, who had no interest in nightclub ownership. There's a relatively slim profit margin for the amount of work and organization required to effectively operate a nightclub on the Strip, and it is a highly competitive, often cutthroat business. Thus, on October 9, 2015, Cirque officially announced that they decided to pull out of all hospitality projects. While LIGHT would stay open (albeit with all the Cirque aspects removed), REVOLUTION Lounge at the Mirage and GOLD Lounge at ARIA would close and be replaced.

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