You know you’re at the place to be on New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas when after navigating an hour-long queue and fighting the hordes inside, there’s another line just to get onto the dance floor.
Such was the case at Hakkasan for their first New Year’s Eve bash, which saw resident dance kingpin Calvin Harris ring in 2014 with a slate of pop gold and a legion of adoring clubgoers crammed into every nook and cranny with hopes of getting in on the action.
For a nightlife juggernaut like Hakkasan, which routinely draws crowds with a pedigree of A-list DJs and a venue that looks like its $100-million price tag, the scene was standard fare: dim lights, sporadic confetti, a gawking, static dance floor and a palpable sense of anticipation. Thirtysomethings in sharp suits lorded over booths and tables, pouring Veuve Clicquot and Grey Goose into the mouths of female companions dancing atop them; the plebiens, meanwhile, traversed the perpetual, amorphous line-crowd flooding the corridors up to the bars, where they were offered cardboard party hats as consolation.
On this night, however, the typical brusqueness of the bar crowd was replaced by a giddy affability—strangers struck up conversation and bought each other drinks (sans flirtatious agenda), literally joining hands to turn the upper level terrace bar into an improvised dancefloor that beat the cramped situation on the formal one below.
Harris took the stage a minute before midnight, his booth so packed with dancers and revelers that his voice on the mic was the only clear indication of his presence. The countdown itself lacked any particular decadence or fanfare that might be expected of club’s first New Year’s Eve celebration—just a cough of confetti and some strobe lights—though Harris still managed to kick the energy up to 11.
The Grammy winner knows to read a crowd, opening with his ubiquitous “Sweet Nothing” and continuing into an onslaught of call-and-response pop favorites, dipping occasionally into his indie-electro roots with remix nods to Justice and Daft Punk. Deeper into the set, aerialists descended from the ceiling in choreographed time to Harris’ beats (a strategy we’re sure Light is thrilled about), weaving amongst cloth curtains and laser lights as the line to the dance floor continued to grow. The night may have done little to deviate from the familiar, but sometimes novelty is overrated—on a night like New Year’s Eve, it’s more fun to just sing along and dance.