While electronic dance music has only recently gained mainstream popularity in America, the world-famous DJ and producer Tiesto has been commanding crowds in the "world's famous playground" for years.
Considered by many to be the greatest DJ of all time, Tiesto most recently played two sold-out shows at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in December, and he returns to the Event Center on Friday, March 30, for yet another sold-out Atlantic City performance.
But no Tiesto set is the same, as the tireless musician is constantly making his own sounds, remixing the works of others and simply mixing it up for his fans.
"It really depends on where I play," he says by phone from South Padre Island, Texas, where he performed for a sea of college students on spring break. "What's the location, which country am I in, how long was it since I played there - all that stuff matters. I always want to play fresh music for people."
Tiesto, 43, started DJ-ing as a teen in the early '80s near his home in the Netherlands. He became a dance music icon in the early 2000s, and he was recognized as the world's best DJ for three consecutive years by DJ Magazine.
He was initially famous for producing trance music, creating extended, melodic ballads that mesmerized audiences. His style has evolved since, changing tempos and sequences, and he described his work today as "eclectic, electro house."
That change has been essential to making him stay relevant and exciting amongst an ever-growing field of DJs aiming to become the next electronic superstar.
"It's amazing how things have changed for me," he says. "I think if I was still playing trance music I would be in a very different position right now."
His upcoming Atlantic City show follows the Winter Music Conference in Miami, a global gathering of DJs where many debut tracks that will go on to become dance floor anthems later in the year.
He expects to spin a variety of new music from that convention, as well as some songs from his upcoming compilation mix, "Club Life: Volume Two Miami."
What else he might play, even he can't say. He only has about half his show planned before he takes the stage, and the rest he selects as the moment moves him.
He says the mood can also be dictated in some ways by the intimacy of the venue. By his standards, the Event Center, with a 3,200-person capacity, is practically tiny.
For comparison, he played a show in October at the Home Depot Center in California before 26,000 people. It was billed as the largest performance in U.S. history for a single DJ headliner, as opposed to the humungous DJ festivals that draw hundreds of thousands.
"I like to play those small shows as well," he says. "It's a totally different vibe."
At the same time, Tiesto was intrigued to hear about the opening last summer of Bader Field in Atlantic City as a 143-acre concert venue, and its potential for an electronic music festival in the future.
"There should be a big festival in Atlantic City," he said. "That's a very good idea."
In search of some new music
As a jet-setting, globe-trotting superstar that plays hundreds of shows a year, Tiesto still makes time every day to listen to as much new music as he can.
"I have to make time for it," he says. "That's the most essential thing for my DJ sets."
Tiesto says that when he's relaxing he listens to a lot of indie rock, and he recently remixed songs by The Naked and Famous and Gotye for his upcoming compilation album.
He says he also gets inspiration from many of his fellow DJs, and they have had a significant influence on his work.
"I can play Avicii, Afrojack, Swedish House Mafia, three totally different styles, and I can absorb all those styles," he says.
Last year, he created his own version of Kanye West's "Lost In The World." Before he played on Dec. 2 at Borgata's Event Center, Tiesto was chatting with West about it, telling him if he came to the show he could see the remix in action.
West was there, and he jumped up on stage when Tiesto played the track.
It seems a wide variety of artists similarly enjoy Tiesto's music, because the next night, singer-songwriter James Blunt came to catch Tiesto's set in Borgata's mixx nightclub, and at one point he dove from the stage into the crowd.
"Yeah, that was a crazy weekend," Tiesto says with a laugh.
As for what celebrity might make an appearance on March 30, Tiesto said he won't know until the last minute.
"I'm sure somebody's coming, from New York or from Philly," he said. "That's also what I like about playing Atlantic City. It's always people from Philadelphia and New York, and they're always up for a big party weekend."