Nightclub Beats Hit the StreetsNovember 24, 2010 By: Leigh W. O'Quinn
Photos of DJ Roonie G at the Fremont Street Experience courtesy of Mikey McNulty/mikeymcnulty.com.
Downtown Las Vegas went dance party Nov. 2 thanks to noted DJ/VJ Roonie G. Starting off the night at 9 p.m. with the first of four sets, both fans and random passers-by stopped to take note as the reported largest video screen in the world became his canvas.
The Fremont Street Experience canopy in Downtown Las Vegas became an outdoor attraction in the mid-1990s. Erected 90 feet over the street, the Viva Vision screen overhead displays multiple themed shows, from the latest Kiss tribute to an Area 51 alien abduction. The 1,500-foot surface includes approximately 12.5 million lights over the pedestrian mall and entertainment destination. Created by LG CNS Co. Ltd., the $17 million project also synchronizes with a 550,000-watt concert-quality sound system.
As the temperatures in Vegas dropped to the low 50s, Fremont heated up as a nightlife destination for the evening. Roonie G helped bring his nightclub skills to the street as his open-format set spanned everything from classic rock to the latest dance remixes. Coordinating his tunes with images running the length of the canopy, loops of anything from Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga and Willow Smith to quirkier edits of cartoon and pop culture moments from film all synced together to make the entire street move below. The young b-boys, teen ravers, tourists, Roonie G fans and even retirees all stopped to shimmy, and Roonie cheered them on from his platform perch overlooking the west end of the Experience.
Roonie knows what he’s doing when mixing music and video. After all, he’s credited as a VJ who helped Pioneer and former Pro DJ expert Karl Detkin develop the first DVD turntables. This innovation is now a standard addition to nightclubs around the world, bringing the party to the next level, though Fremont Street Experience is the pinnacle as far as scope and scale for displaying his skills.
“You’re pretty much inside a TV!” says Roonie in between sets while the scheduled shows illuminated overhead and the crowd gave their dancing shoes a break for a few minutes. Brought to Fremont by Marc Jay, vice president of One Global Events & Marketing who previously threw a party on New Year’s Eve downtown in the past, combining the VJ with the massive video screen seemed like a natural fit.
“I thought it was cool,” says Roonie of when Jay approached him with the idea. A marker of its success: Roonie already is entertaining thoughts of a return gig. “There's some elements we could bring in to make it more like a nightclub besides what I do as an artist.”
Though the Roonie G night was free for all ages, taking a look at the Fremont Street Experience and previous large-scale events, it’s not implausible for additional elements to be brought in to take place in this setting, if even only half of Fremont was incorporated. Though cities are hesitant to shut down streets, that hurdle has already been overcome on Fremont; it hasn’t been open to cars since 1995. Plus with famed events like LovEvolution in San Francisco pulling the plug this year at the last minute, the West Coast may be in need of something new. Roonie G’s set is only a small indicator of the possibilities Fremont Street could embrace.