Recap: Rise After Hours premieres Dresden & Johnston… and Paris Hilton?

Dave Dresden (left) and Mikael Johnston spin inside Gold Lounge for the launch of Rise Afterhours.

RISE-ing to the afterhours occasion...

Sunglasses were already a must while leaving Aria on Saturday morning, as is often the case after an afterhours event wraps up. As daylight beamed into the Aria shops, clubbers slinked past early rising retirees in front of the penny slots, who watched confused or ogled the ladies in stilettos and happily smiling dudes with dribble trails of Jäger on their button-down shirts.

The emergence of Rise After Hours at Gold Lounge on the scene marks only the second afterhours currently on the Las Vegas Strip (Drai’s at Bill’s Gambling Hall has been going strong for years, but other successful afterhours in Vegas are off-Strip in gentlemen’s clubs). Empire Ballroom (previously Utopia) is long gone, despite the signage still glowing brightly on Las Vegas Boulevard. A short stint of 3 a.m. Afterhours at Privé made a valiant effort, but the difficulty in switching a large main room from commercial hip-hop and top 40 mash-ups to the afterhours standard of underground dance and house music was a challenge in itself, not to mention the financial troubles plaguing the recently shuttered Planet Hollywood club.

Gold Lounge, however, is in a prime position to join the afterhours game, with potential spillover not only from Haze clubgoers just an escalator away (especially on nights big electronic dance music headliners such as David Guetta or Tiësto are scheduled), but also by being convenient for out-of-towners who don’t want to cab it around Vegas is search of a party after the party. Not to mention, the intimate size of Gold, plus the swanky décor, is the stuff afterhours venues are made of.

...And the worldwide premiere of Dresden & Johnston

To start Rise off was the highly anticipated debut of electronic music duo Dresden & Johnston. “We’ve spent a year and change getting our thing down in the studio,” said Dave Dresden after he and Mikael Johnston stepped behind the decks Friday night... technically the wee hours of Saturday morning (Rise starts Friday and Saturday nights at 2 a.m.)

Dresden & Johnston at Gold Lounge

Dresden & Johnston are already on the electronic-music radar, making an impact with their new track “Keep Faith.” Fans showing up to Gold Lounge to check out more of what they’ve been working on did have to wait just a bit longer than their scheduled set time of 3 a.m., though. The duo was pushed until past 4 a.m. thanks to an unplanned visit from Miss Paris Hilton herself, who had dined with her sister Nicky at nearby Crystals restaurant Beso earlier in the evening and also hit up XS and Lavo before Gold Lounge.

Rumor has it Hilton requested to hear hip-hop instead of the opening DJ’s house music mere minutes before Dresden & Johnston were about to begin. “We were told this was going to be a dark afterhours vibe — real vibey music they wanted,” Johnston said. “They had planned this whole night around us opening this afterhours party and around our style of music, and then it turned into a hip-hop party.” Added Dresden, “It seems like this is kind of what happens in Vegas is that people with a lot of money and power go around and dictate what’s going on. I’ve seen it before.”

But despite the abruptly thrown wrench in the previously planned house music format, the dance floor kept moving. Dresden & Johnston hung in there and pulled off an impressive feat when they finally got to step behind the decks.

“We had to mix out of [hip-hop] and get people to listen to house music again — which is almost impossible,” explained Johnston. “We managed to do it for a little over an hour without clearing the dance floor and I feel pretty good about that.”

Successfully transitioning genres and holding the crowd, the duo eventually was able to launch into their own productions as hoped. “The highlight of the evening was when we played ‘That Day’ and people really started to rock out,” said Johnston of the track with singer Nadia Ali. Other highlights include when they dropped another of their new productions, “Metaphonics,” after a couple of Afrojack tracks. “It kept the energy and the vibe of the dance floor just as much as the Afrojack track,” said Dresden. “That felt really good because that’s a new style of music for both of us. It sounded really good, and it’s not even a finished song yet.”

If you weren’t able to make it out to see Dresden & Johnston, they plan on finishing their album this summer with a release date in the first quarter of 2011 in time for the Winter Music Conference. Look for collaborations with Jan Burton and possibly Jes Brieden, both of whom previously worked with Gabriel & Dresden.

Dresden & Johnston also are tapping the talent of Duncan Sheik, Holly Brook (female vocalist for Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda side project Fort Minor), and Hungarian producers Myon & Shane 54.

And as far as coming back to Vegas? “Definitely,” said Johnston. “We’d play for the Light Group again. They’re cool; it was just a weird night. It’s just wasn’t how any of us planned it, including them. We rolled with it and we made it work.” He added, “Even Paris Hilton stayed for at least half of our set!” Said Dresden, “She was getting down.”

Who knows? Maybe Hilton will become a new D&J fan and start requesting their music when she goes out or even ask to collaborate on their new album... Eh, maybe not.

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