Music, entertainment and an all-night party deep in the woods
House of Leaves is stretching the limitations of what’s possible with a dance party in Las Vegas. The one-night-only celebration takes over the Keep Memory Alive Event Center on Saturday, November 13 with performances by Rony Seikaly, Eelke Kleijn and Mark Eteson.
Guests are encouraged to dress “bohemian chic” for an all-night rave of house, techno and other forms of electronic dance music. However, the beats are only one part of the equation. The environment will be a transformative, sprawling forest with lights, lasers, confetti and roaming cast members. As Willy Wonka might say, House of Leaves is a world of pure imagination—and even in Las Vegas, it’s something that’s never been done before.
Eteson isn’t just a performer. He’s also president of Bluebird Wood Enterprises, the production company behind House of Leaves. A veteran of the Vegas nightlife scene for more than seven years, he dreamed up the concept by wondering if it was possible to merge the energy of a nightclub with the intrigue of a stage production.
“Is there a way that we can combine these two things to give people a more involved, elevated nightlife experience?” he asked. “But one which brings in the theatrical element of having a story told to you throughout the course of the night or where the performers are up close and personal so you really get drawn into it.”
Expect the unexpected. You may see a violinist or trumpet player performing tableside. Characters may pull you into a corner to share a special message or secret shot. The music is the centerpiece of the experience, but just one of many elements. “We wanted the concept to be the headliner,” says Andrea Frey, Bluebird Wood Enterprises event producer.
Eteson and Frey previously worked together as part of the Hakkasan Group and certainly had the pull and connections to stage House of Leaves at one of many nightclubs on the Strip—if they wanted to. It was more important for the event to take place in an unconventional space, effectively announcing that this is something new and different in Vegas nightlife. The surrealist architecture of the Frank Gehry-designed Keep Memory Alive Event Center, with an exterior that appears to be melting, was a perfect fit. “I loved the shape,” says Eteson about choosing the venue. “To me, it looked like something Salvador Dali would’ve painted.”
They are backed by a team that includes some of the industry’s top heavyweights. Zee Zandi booked talent, Gaz Brooks is advisor of promotions and Genevieve Cleary of Belluscious Productions handled program direction.
The forest itself is more than mere decoration. It’s an expansive combination of live and simulated trees to create depth and layers of foliage with LED lighting. “I’ve always been good at translating a concept into a space and making it work,” says Frey.
The performance of each DJ will represent a season with all three joining together at the end to celebrate summer in a grand finale. “Summer is when everything blooms again, tying up the culmination of the story” says Eteson. “You want to keep the story simple. It’s still a party at the end of the day.”
House of Leaves borrows its name from Mark Z. Danielewski’s novel, a groundbreaking work of experimental fiction released more than 20 years ago. “Reading that book made me feel like there were no rules,” recalls Eteson. “I could do things back-to-front if I want, I can stitch things together a different way. The book, although it’s not actually linked to the event other than the name, inspired me to take a few more risks.”
The spirit of the project was born from an urgency to move beyond the pandemic and reconnect with people; bringing spectators and performers together as co-contributors in a new format of experiential entertainment.
“When you go to a party, you go because you want to hang out with your mates and have a good time,” says Eteson, “You also go because you’re social and you want to be around other people’s energy—because it brings your own energy up—and hopefully go home with a smile on your face. That’s what we’re trying to do, but in a different way.”
House of Leaves gets underway at 10 p.m. on Saturday, November 13 at the Keep Memory Alive Event Center (888 West Bonneville Avenue) in Downtown Las Vegas. Tickets include an open bar and are only sold online in a tiered format with the price increasing as the date of the event approaches. Visit houseofleavesbwe.com to learn more.