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Nightlife

[Anatomy of a Dancefloor ]

Navigating the minefield of spectacle that was Eric Prydz’s Black Dice set

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Confetti showers on XS guests during Eric Prydz’s Black Dice set.
Photo: Danny Mahoney/XS Nightclub

We hoped for a proper dancefloor experience with Black Dice, Eric Prydz’s supposed exercise in megaclub minimalism. What we got was a minefield.

The producer/DJ re-upped his exclusivity contract at Wynn/Encore with a premise hyped to downplay the flash and pop of the typical Strip party, favoring a darker ambiance and more progressive soundtrack. But that was largely lost on the messy crowd—and, to some extent, the production staff—at XS on September 6.

Opener Kris Nilsson wisely wound his set down to a steady subterranean groove in preparation for Prydz’s 1:20 a.m. start. As soon as the Swedish beatmaker emerged behind the console—this native Angeleno cheering Prydz’s choice in Dodgers headgear—a crush of fans and overzealous partiers stormed the front of the dancefloor, where some of us had been shuffling casually and comfortably.

Now, we were becoming very intimate with one another, even inadvertently propping up those whose alcohol intake impeded upright mobility. I did my best not to clock an ambling couple that stomped on my toes like they were grapes; thankfully, a no-nonsense Prydz enthusiast shoved them about 10 feet away from us, and some room opened up. All around us: rah-rah-ing fans and a bunch of amateur photographers. But where was the dancing?

The problem: Your typical clubber isn’t about bringing the boogie, but flailing about in ways that would embarrass Ed Grimley. All eyes are always on the DJ or the production display around him. It’s part spectacle, part concert, without the inhibition-dropping movements that enable people to lose themselves in the music.

And minimal, Black Dice wasn’t. Seven minutes in, to the strains of Leventina’s “Medical Insurance,” we were showered and covered with silver confetti. Five minutes after that, the cryo steam blasts started in earnest. A little later, streamers shot out, and after it looked like we’d been silly-stringed with fancy, we were left tripping over the shiny ropes tangled on the ground.

The crowd certainly reacted with the same zeal as if it was watching Steve Angello, despite Prydz playing a notch (or four) below his fellow Swede, finding a smart and still savory middle ground. I was surrounded by whoopers and jumpers during his “2Night”—though, frankly, I felt compelled to join them upon hearing Karl Hyde’s vocal sample from Underworld’s “Two Months Off.”

Once the jauntier “Take Me With You” by Cosmos started, we moved back to the dancefloor halfway point, my boyfriend barely escaping an orgy of dry-humpers. Streamers were now the least of our problems, as a collection of empty glasses was pooling at our feet. Prydz’s dance-pop anthem “Every Day” only provoked more audience cheerleading/nondancing. I felt like I was in the student section at a college basketball game—or back at Coachella watching his Sahara Tent set.

And then, the energy began dipping. Prydz countered with his pounding “Power Drive,” and yet the crowd—mostly international tourists, judging by the omnipresent B.O.—still sluggishly moved about. Had it hit a wall as the set nearly completed its second hour?

Prydz was still due to peak, and did so with a one-two combo of his modest remix of Calvin Harris’ “Flashback” and his less-humbling reworking of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus,” which woke most of the crowd up. A bachelor party reached out to touch not faith, but its man of the weekend, hoisting him up. Lucky guy, he couldn’t twist his ankle on all the glass—and it wasn’t like he was dancing anyway.

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Mike Prevatt

Mike Prevatt turned his passion for rock 'n' roll and dance beats into an actual job during his stint as ...

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