Photography by Brian To
In the ‘70s, the clubs on the Sunset Strip had girls dancing in cages. Today, the clubs have girls dancing in holographic form. Or they might, if they follow the lead of the Hologram USA Theater and Club on Hollywood Boulevard. On Friday, the Hologram USA Theater officially debuted its new hologram lounge on Friday, combining the theater’s hologram stage with a club-like atmosphere and amenities.
Since it opened in 2016, the Hologram USA Theater has offered Hollywood a little taste of the past. Throughout the week, the theater would play holographic performances by artists like Billy Holiday and TK. The visuals were created using proprietary camera technology and filming lookalikes for the singers who lip-synch along with previously recorded tracks. The theater’s owner, billionaire Alki David, had bigger plans, though.
“We’re trolling the entertainment industry,” David says, gesturing to the stage where two dancers are joined by Tupac and a dragon—all holograms.
Just like the strange melange of elements on stage, David’s vision of his hologram technology is either eclectic or chaotic, depending on who you ask. While much of the entertainment industry has turned increasingly to the internet and away from physical, brick and mortar infrastructure (just think Netflix and Hollywood’s rush to streaming), David doesn’t see the two as mutually exclusive.
While people may not go to the movies as often as they used to, they still go out to bars, clubs, and musical performances. So David took out the rows of chairs all facing the stage and he brought in plush leather love seats, cocktail tables, a bar, and a DJ booth.
“I wanted to create an interactive experience,” David says. The holograms appeared to complement the action inside the club, not disrupt it. In Friday’s case, dancers conducted Q&A’s with the audience in between dancing.
The future of entertainment should’t be more isolation. There’s enough Netflix and Chill, according to David. In his business model, all you have to do to get people out of their houses is to give them something they can only do outside. Guests on Friday lounged, danced, smoked some of the complementary weed passed out in hulking pre-rolled blunts. While some attendees gathered around couches and sipped on drinks, others clustered in dance circles for mini dance-off’s. Still others hung out in the lobby and sampled the CBD products, which are produced by another one of David’s companies, SwissX.
But according to David, this is far from the last stage of his plan. In slightly over a month, David says that the next Hologram USA location will open at the Sofretel Nightclub in Beverly Hills. After that, six other sites will join the first two. Between those eight, David intends on having multi-city live shows where musicians, comedians, and other performers can put on live shows in multiple venues simultaneously.
“This is the next thing in entertainment,” says David.