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The Short Version: A date to Omega Mart in Las Vegas is an immersive, interactive art installation for any art-loving couple. The exhibit combines sounds, story, art, and consumerism into a 52,000-square-foot supermarket-themed installation. Couples can spend two to three hours roaming the aisles of the surreal store, engaging with the space, and trying to figure out what’s really happening behind the scenes at the nefarious Omega Mart.
Couples who spend time browsing the aisles at Omega Mart, a supermarket-inspired immersive art experience, are sure to discover plenty of surprising products.
For instance, they may be intrigued by Who Told You This Was Butter?, an air-freshening spray that makes the whole room smell like butter.
Or they can search for BOG Water, an alternative to sparkling water that comes from an unusual source. The product’s tagline reads: “Discover earth’s finest natural treasure trove with BOG, the liveliest water you’ll ever drink!”
And no date to Omega Mart would be complete without Karlos Medino’s Raspberry Blue Chili hot sauce, made from the blueberry sapphire chilis or tangy raspberry blue chilis.
Of course, those aren’t real products, and Omega Mart isn’t an actual supermarket. The Las Vegas art installation is the second large-scale, experiential art exhibit from the Meow Wolf art collective. The first installation was in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the third will open in Denver in Fall 2021.
The Los Angeles Times wrote about Meow Wolf’s objective:
“Meow Wolf is a leader in the emerging world of themed, environmental storytelling that emphasizes the active participation of guests — in other words, play — and its work bridges the underground and the mainstream, posing fresh questions on how we experience everything from gallery spaces to theme parks to immersive theater.”
Omega Mart takes over a 52,000-square foot, multistory building and draws guests into the atmosphere with music, props, noises, and interactive elements. The experience, which offers mysteries for couples to solve, calls out American consumerism and shopping habits through storytelling.
“It’s a stimulating environment — audio, visual, and tactical. I would say the experience is otherworldly,” said Meow Wolf Creative Director Spencer Olsen.
One of the most exciting aspects of Omega Mart is discovering what’s hidden throughout the exhibit. Spencer recommends that couples check out the space several times for at least two to three hours to find everything it offers.
“We see feedback that it’s worth a repeat visit. The first time, you want to make sure you go to every room and don’t miss anything. But that leaves the interactive side of the storytelling, so people recommend coming for more than just one two- or three-hour visit,” he said.
Even couples who have different conceptions of an ideal date can find things to appreciate about Omega Mart. Art lovers, for instance, can look at the large-scale installations and consider how those pieces were made. Escape room lovers who enjoy interactive dates can explore the tactile side of the exhibition.
“It’s a full-spectrum experience, though you might not want to do it for a first date because it’s hard to talk to each other,” Spencer said with a laugh.
Other couples may want to search for Omega Mart’s secret bar, the Datamosh Bar, which can be challenging to find. The bar combines the Omega Mart experience and the Meow Wolf vibe. After a year of testing cocktails, the Datamosh bar selected eight specialty cocktails that fit the Omega Mart theme.
The bar serves up the Meowjito with Real McCoy Rum, Smith & Cross Rum, lemongrass, and guava. Many couples also choose the Orange Dream, designed to taste like a creamsicle, made with orange juice, vanilla, ginger ale, Coco Dream Whip, and mezcal or vodka.
The Meow Wolf founders first came up with the surreal supermarket concept in 2013, and they created it on a small scale. When they were presented with an opportunity for a larger, permanent installation opportunity in Vegas, they took it.
The original Meow Wolf exhibition in Santa Fe, called the House of Eternal Return, saw 500,000 visitors each year before the COVID-19 pandemic began. When the pandemic subsides to a safe level, they expect Omega Mart to exceed that many annual visitors.
Omega Mart already appeals to a wide range of demographics. Art-lovers and people who may not like traditional museums often visit; so do couples who enjoy music and art festivals. People of all ages are welcome.
One guest noted how unique the installation was in an online review:
“The experience was so cool! All of the Omega Mart staff were kind and courteous and very friendly/informing of the exhibits. My favorite part of the whole experience definitely was the slides! I am 25, and for a few moments, I got to be a kid again screaming and laughing going down those epic swirly slides!”
Omega Mart is popular, in part, because it combines so many experiences. Guests can walk around the space, touch things to see how they work and listen to 750 minutes of original music highlighting the experience. Well-known artists, including Brian Eno and Beach House, a pop duo, were behind some of the tracks.
Creative Director Corvas Brinkerhoff explained how the Meow Wolf team came up with the multisensory experience.
“From day one, Omega Mart was intended to be a dense weave of lighting, sound, video, and narrative. We wanted to create an unprecedented experience, and a complex integration of sound was an integral part of that,” he said.
After years of planning, Omega Mart has become a hotspot in Las Vegas, yet it hasn’t reached its full potential because of limited capacity requirements during the pandemic. The team wants to ensure that guests feel safe in the space, so the exhibit requires masks, temperature checks, six-foot distance between groups, and the use of hand sanitizer.
When restrictions are lifted, Spencer said he and the team see the potential to expand Omega Mart even further. Over the next few years, the team wants to explore ways to build out the large space, as they still have square footage left that they haven’t yet used.
“I’m interested to see what the next addition and changes and upgrades will look like,” Spencer told us.
The Meow Wolf collective is also working on the Denver installation, which will be more than 90,000 square feet of space and involve more than 100 local artists. The theme of that installation hasn’t yet been announced.
In Santa Fe and now Las Vegas, the Meow Wolf team gives guests unique experiences that can shake them out of their dating routines.
“It’s something different. I love going out to dinner and a movie, but people are eager for unique offerings,” Spencer said.
The team is also excited about the other projects they’ve seen flourish, especially during the pandemic when the future of art and music festivals is so in flux. Omega Mart, and the next Meow Wolf projects, demonstrate what the intersection of art and a theme park-like experience can look like.
“It’s the most remarkable, meaningful creation experience I’ve had in my life. I’m so lucky to see my imagination live outside of my brain and to get to work with these amazing collaborators,” Spencer told us.
Starting Saturday, May 30, Omega Mart hours will be 10 a.m. to midnight every day (final entry permitted at 10:20 p.m.).
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