Marquee, Sydney’s new mega night club at The Star, encompasses six lavish rooms that create a spectacular fantasy world and a multi-sensory experience. These can be experienced as a whole or as unique individual spaces. Each zone has a distinct character – from an old English parlour to a futuristic nightclub. The club is part of the $$870 million redevelopment by The Star and a major part of its rebranding.
“The arrival space is an elliptical tunnel of choice,” explained Vince Squillace. “Patrons have an option of two very different experiences – either the Main Club or the Boom Box. As you wind up the ramp, the sense of anticipation is heightened with pulsing music and light. Portals carved out of the walls reveal a performance capsule within. At times this is styled as a dominatrix’s den, next week it’s transformed into an underwater grotto.
“Entering the Main Club, visitors are struck by a halo of radiating LED rings across the ceiling. Above the main bar, a mirror ball is suspended in mid-air like a droplet of water, the surrounding light rings evocative of concentric water ripples. A second array of light emanates from the DJ booth and generates a series of pulsing sound waves. These two orbits chase across the ceiling and converge over the dance floor; their origins representative of the dynamic energy in this space. A black glossy ceiling vibrates with the music like a speaker drum, reflecting a visual luminescence and heightening the volume of space.
“Behind the DJ booth is an operable high definition LED screen. This opens up to reveal a performance stage and brings the private bar behind into the flow of the main dance floor. Costumed dancers on raised podiums add drama and spectacle, while an array of lasers and hazer machines take thee show above and beyond any other club experience.
“Patrons can chill out and mingle in the Dressing Room. This is a glamorous backstage area, with the Sydney skyline as a backdrop and bathroom attendants dispensing lotions and perfumes. An oversized regency vanity table with glistening Hollywood light bulbs and giant face chairs from Driade create a sense of whimsy and indulgence. A full wall vinyl graphic, commissioned from Melbourne street artist ‘Rone’ ’, features a mob of sultry sirens gazing back at the crowd – a reminder that everyone is on display, not just to each other but to the city beyond.
“At the other end of the club, the Boom Box is an anti-establishment ‘trashed mansion’. Graffiti is plastered over timber paneled walls. Thee black stencils and text by Sydney artist Steve Gorrow features subverted iconic images of the times. A giant chandelier – made off bronze bike chains, not crystal – radiates out from the bar and sprawls across the ceiling like a spiral of overgrown cobwebs. Metal studs are riveted over the bar front and DJ booth. Featuring views of the Sydney harbour, the Boom Box is an old English parlour with a playful and sassy twist.
“The Library and the Private Lounge, both VIP areas, can be accessed via a secret passageway. Crackling fireplaces, walnut bookshelves and wall paneling create the setting of an Ivy League prep school, albeit an opulent, seditious one. The library shelves are lined with books – from tomes on Las Vegas and old Hollywood biographies, to those of a more titillating nature. Above the fireplace hangs a gilt framed paiinting of a rabbit posing as Mona Lisa (by American artist Hillary White). Locally crafted regency furniture are vandalised by graffiti text. Everything here is subversive – this is a den for casual exclusivity.
“The design was a collaboration with ICrave, a Manhattan based design studio that had previous experience with the club’s operators. The Tao Group have a host off world class venues that include Marquee, Tao and Lavo, located both in New York and L as Vegas. The process involved visiting these venues, and a series of workshops with ICrave and the operators in order to seamlessly transfer the Tao model to Sydney – their first venture outside the United States.
“A strategic part of the design was to create a series of tiered platforms so that guests can enter the venue from an elevated position, to better survey the action and gradually wind down to the dance floor. Raised performance podiums positioned across the main club allow dancers to majestically soar above the crowd. Black Barrisol ceilings were used over the main bar and dance floor to act as a mirror, effectively doubling the ceiling height. Unlike other nightclubs, this venue has the advantage of panoramic harbour views. In order to maximise the outlook while maintaining an acoustic cocoon, either ends of the club (where the volume would be lower)) were opened up to the views. At the main dance floor, which was design for a maximum of 120dB, thick acoustic walls were constructed over the glazed façade to create acoustic separation.”
The standard was set high for us in the beginning,” commented Matthew, who had no hesitation in recommending Martin for the majority of the professional lighting. “I’ve used Martin branded products for a very long time in all types of applications all across the country. I find Martin products hold up well in a nightclub situation; a nightclub can be a very tough place for a moving light to live and whilst there are certainly cheaper products on the market, Martin pays you back in reliability and serviceability over the duration of the operation.”
Matthew remarks that he has installed Martin moving heads into many venues which are still running ten years later, something he is certain you wouldn’t see with many other brands.
“Also, the fantastic support we get from our local Martin distributor Show Technology really makes ownership of Martin a very easy decision for us,” he added.
The low roof of the venue dictated the use of the Martin MAC 250 Entour however a big look was created by using thirty-two of them. To support this look, a nice wash effect was required that would be fast and deliver the latest technology.
“The Martin MAC101 small, super light and easy-to-use LED moving head wash light was the obvious and also inexpensive solution,” said Matthew. “We’ve used fourteen and they provide a narrow beam effect, a wash light and a LED ‘pixelated’ effect all from the one little mover.”
Four powerful Martin Mania EFX 500 halogen effect lights kick out a dizzying array of razor sharp effects and patterns whilst six Martin Atomic Strobes add a blast of light.
A JEM Hydra fog system delivers a fog effect from multiple locations. The intelligent Hydra fog system eliminated the need to purchase multiple fog machines as it has eight individually controlled fog heads controlled from the desk all pumping special ‘steam juice’ from one conveniently located base unit. This is the first JEM Hydra system installation in Australia.
A JEM Magnum 2500 plug-and-play, easy-to-use hazer was also installed.
For control, the main room uses a Martin M1 console, a great console that is easy to use and quite affordable for what it can do, according to Matthew.
“Whilst it’s reasonably new to the market we weren’t worried about that as there are already a quite a few out there in use,” he said. “In the back room we originally were going to go with a Martin LightJockey system but once we got into the install we changed to the newer Martin MPC system. It sits more in line with the operating system on the console in the main room so the switch between the two rooms is less of an issue for the operators.”
There are also a number of LED rings mounted in the roof, which circulate outwards from the main bar and from the DJ box / dance floor area. These converge and cross over with each ring individually controlled so they can chase up and down the roof and to work in unison with the video installation.
“We custom made these using LED mounted inside the Barrisol supporting metal work,” explained Matthew. “Of all the effects that we worked on for this project, this one took quite a long time to get it just right. We must’ve looked at ten different options before we could all agree on what was going to work. These rings are all triggered from the M1 lighting console.”
The GLUX MOTN 12mm LED screen, again supplied through Show Technology, delivers the main visual element to the venue. It’s a semi-transparent screen made up of panels 1000mm x 500mm in size. The total screen size is 9meters wide and 2.5meters high as well as an additional 7.5meter curved LED Screen frontage to the DJ box.
“It looks great and is really one of the main focuses of the entire venue,” Matthew remarked. “As a bonus, it was really quite easy to install! For a special effect, the whole right hand side of the LED screen system can be moved mid show via a hydraulic ramp system. Basically the right hand side third of the screen moves forward and the middle section slips perfectly behind the right hand side leaving a nice gap of 3m in the centre of the screen. All this is done mechanically from a switch on the lighting operator’s desk. This means we can do ‘reveals’ or use Go Go dancers behind the DJ for example. We’ve installed MAC101’s in that area to provide lighting support – it looks great when it’s in operation.”
The screen control and engineering was done by HME. For vision control a Coolux Pandora’s Box Media Player with a Coolux Media Manager is used and controlled from the lighting operator’s position.
“This means we can trick up the video and the lighting to be in colour with each other,” added Matthew. “It’s a big look.”
A state-of-the-art laser system was designed and installed by Oracle Laser,
TAG‘s Anthony Russo enlisted the help of two of the best electro acousticians in Australia, Glenn Leembruggen of Acoustic Directions and David Gilfillan of Gilfillan Soundwork. Paul Moss from S&VC – TAG’s Sydney dealer – was chosen to handle the installation and mechanical aspects. Adam Ward, Marquee The Star’s AV Director was onboard to oversee the equipment choices and refine the design.
For the sound system even coverage and control was paramount. Average SPLs of 115 to 120 dB on the dance floor was considered a minimum, and 85 to 95dB in some areas of the club was required. Importantly comfortable, even, time coherency and clarity were also considered as essential elements for the more chilled out areas of the venue. As Marquee The Star operates as both a day club and a nightclub an extensive acoustic investigation was undertaken.
A major challenge for the speaker selection at Marquee The Star was the unusually low ceiling height, just 2.8 metres at its lowest point, as well as a plethora of existing hydraulic and electrical services to contend with. A stretched, architectural, false barrisol ceiling over the dancefloor also affected the speaker choice and placement.
The Main Room has an eight metre by eight metre dancefloor and features a four-corner system comprising 12 Martin Audio MLA multi cellular loudspeaker arrays and four Martin Audio MLX self powered sub basses.
The major rear delay system was aligned to blend in with the main system and create a ‘one big system’ effect. The narrowness of the room and placement of the subwoofers create a ‘power alley’, which blend the two systems together practically seamlessly.
Custom-made VHF tweeters were designed to add a certain amount of ‘air’ when dance music is played at the club.
The Boom Box system includes 16 Martin Audio W8LM line array elements, three Martin Audio WS218X subwoofers and a further 12 VHF tweeter arrays. Three bar areas are catered for by 76 Martin Audio OmniLine micro line array cabinets, and nine Martin Audio AQ212 subwoofers.
The VIP area is home to 20 Martin Audio OmniLine micro line array elements in four clusters and two Martin Audio S15+ sub basses.
The Library sits beside the VIP area, and has been equipped with four high-end ATC SCM 7 bookshelf loudspeakers and three concealed Martin Audio AQ112 subwoofers. The audio install even continues into the restrooms. The main unisex bathroom is more like a club within itself as it is equipped with separate DJ playback facilities. A ceiling mounted speaker system incorporating 37 Martin Audio C6.8Ts was selected as the best option for this area of the club.
To complete the speaker set-up, DJ monitoring is taken care of by Martin Audio AQ215 subs, Martin Audio Blackline F12+ cabinets and three Martin Audio LE 2100 bi-amp wedge monitors; two in the Main Room and one in the Boom Box.
Marquee The Star required a total of 40 amplifiers – a combination ofQSC Audio PL Series platform with a compliment of 325, 340 & 380’s with the balance made up of QSC’s CX series platform comprising multichannel 254, 404 and 108. To complement the QSC amplifiers and to ensure all control requirements were met, a QSC networking solution was also specified.
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