24 hours with Armin van Buuren
Following the EDM master over Memorial Day Weekend
Thu, Jun 7, 2012 (midnight)
Photo: Sarah Gianetto
Sunday, May 27, 2012
7:45 p.m. I sit in for soundcheck at Marquee nightclub with the tour manager and traveling VJ, while Armin finishes up dinner at Jaleo.
8:30 p.m. Contest winners already dressed in the theme of tonight’s White Party eagerly await their chance to meet and greet the world-renowned DJ/producer/so-much-more. He warmly signs autographs, takes pictures and listens to their brief stories. As fans trickle out of line, I overhear, “It’s like a dream come true,” and “I could die happy now, honestly.” Armin heads to his room to rest up for his performance.
- Armin van Buuren
- With Sander van Doorn and friends
- At Marquee, June 8, 9:30 p.m.
- At Electric Daisy Carnival, June 9-10
1:45 a.m. The calm before the storm. I stand in the silent hotel corridor outside Armin’s room, along with his tour manager and a security escort, host and artist relations rep, all from Marquee. We are led to a private elevator and eventually escorted straight to the stage. Armin sips champagne, chats and signs yet another shirt behind the giant LED screen, while Gareth Emery finishes up his set.
2 a.m. Armin transitions onto the decks so quickly I do a double-take. I thought he was standing right next to me … The room immediately goes crazy as he takes over the spotlight. Unrelenting, energetic trance drives through the crowd, which waves orange glow wands, handmade signs and Dutch flags. All-white theme attire is constantly flashed bright by strobes, as attendees alternately dance amidst confetti, bubbles, snow and cryo.
3:45 a.m. Armin’s smiling, bouncing, dancing and clapping has been infectious. Before, I’d thought I was long overdue for sleep. Now, I’m still happily dancing along, even though enough drinks have vibrated onto the floor to make my shoes stick. The team does a celebratory shot together, Armin’s one deviation from Dom Pérignon.
4 a.m. Armin gets on the microphone only this once: “Isn’t this the best Memorial Day Weekend ever? Okay, this is my last song.” I leave on my own, so that the star can be escorted back to his room in private.
Monday, May 28, 2012
2:25 p.m. We hop into a private transport from the Cosmopolitan to the Venetian, where Armin is scheduled to play Tao Beach. Once he and his tour manager chat a bit in Dutch, I ask if Memorial Day Weekend in Vegas seems different for someone who has performed at some of the biggest events across the world.
“There’s a different energy than when you usually come here. ... Sometimes I play in Vegas just on a weekday, or when it’s not Memorial Day Weekend. People are more relaxed, maybe. ... I was surprised last night, because I pretty much tranced it out last night. I was expecting to have to play more house-y for the people sitting at the tables. ... What can I say? I had a lot of fun last night. I can’t believe it, though: Five gigs in Vegas in two weeks. This is only the second one.”
Armin returns June 8 at Marquee, June 9 for his own A State of Trance stage at EDC and June 10 for his main-stage EDC set. “That’s kind of proof that EDM is really catching up in the U.S. Five or six years ago, you had maybe Ice playing EDM here, and now you have all these bars and clubs that are switching to EDM, which is great.”
2:45 p.m. Another artist liaison and a security guard meet us at valet, and we’re taken through a secret passage to the pool party. The DJ booth contains all kinds of trappings: strawberry mojitos, coconut water, energy drinks, exotic fruit bowls. Oh yeah, and its own air conditioning unit.
Armin scans the pool and assesses the vibe. Some of the same fans from last night can be spotted in the crowd. “I have a new way of telling if I’m doing a good job or not: If people are checking their Facebook, I’m probably boring,” he says. I assure him they’re probably just posting about how awesome he is.
“You know, I travel with a light guy, a VJ and a tour manager, and at the airport or wherever, instead of talking about life and philosophy, we’re on our phones.”
As if real communication were the theme of the day, a fan strikes up a conversation with me later in the afternoon, recounting his experience at yesterday’s meet and greet. “His music is so deep and means so much to us; it would be nice to have an actual conversation about what it means to him. We didn’t have enough time with him,” the fan says.
3 p.m. Armin’s two-hour set begins. His energy and smiles are consistent from the night before, and fans are once again going crazy—this time in bikinis and swim trunks. This is his first time at Tao Beach, but certainly not his first pool party. “Some of my colleagues say that Vegas is the next Ibiza … No disrespect to Las Vegas, but it will never be Ibiza,” Armin says.
Throughout his set, fans hand all kinds of random objects into the DJ booth for him to sign between songs: shirts, flags, dollar bills, Tao beach balls and plastic drink cups.
5 p.m. Armin steps out of the booth. He takes a couple more minutes to sign autographs and pose for photo ops, then he’s whisked away to catch a flight to California for the night’s gig in Orange County. Soon it will be time to do it all over again.