Category Archives: Nightclubs

There Are Signs of Life at Alon Las Vegas

Things are happening at the site of the future Alon Las Vegas resort, and new signage now adorns the fence outside the project’s construction site.

Alon Las Vegas

And you thought you’d be able to carry out your sign installment duties in peace. Silly sign installment guys.

There have been rumblings of minor landscaping activity at the Alon site, but the new signs are the first real glimpse into what might be in store at the highly-anticipated resort.

Alon Las Vegas

Who has brass ones big enough to advertise “less service”? Alon, that’s who.

Alon, pronounced “AY-lawn,” sits on the site formerly occupied by the New Frontier, across from the Wynn and Encore, and between Fashion Show Mall and another project slowly taking shape, Resorts World.

Alon Las Vegas is being developed by Australian bajillionaire James Packer and his Crown Resorts (Crown gets a shout-out on the new signage).

Alon’s CEO is Andrew Pascal, a former bigwig at Wynn Resorts, and investment firm Oaktree Capital Management is also involved, although we were too busy to find out how, possibly due to our drinking and gambling duties. We’re pretty sure Oaktree Capital is bankrolling the project, though. How do you think bajillionaires get to be bajillionaires?

Alon Las Vegas

Alon Las Vegas. Less service, yes, but also less judging about plastic surgery and bralessness.™

Once plans for Alon were announced, it didn’t take long for the project to snatch up a metric ass-ton of Las Vegas talent, and not just because we are always looking for a reason to use the word “snatch.”

Alon grabbed Rob Oseland, for example, an all-around cool cat who was also the President and CEO of SLS Las Vegas. Another big hiring coup for Alon was Wynn nightlife sensation, Jesse Waits.

Alon Las Vegas

Alon Las Vegas. Leave your preconceptions at home, like the one about ruffies being just a guy thing.™

Alon Las Vegas will presumably have two hotel towers, a VIP and resort tower. There will also be a 126,000-square-foot water feature. There will also be a nightclub, a performance venue, movie theater, spa and meeting space.

Oh, and there will also be a “botanical chapel,” which we can only assume will be a place for exotic plants to drunkenly make legally-binding mistakes they’ll regret for the rest of their lives.

Alon Las Vegas

Alon Las Vegas. So flush with cash, we splurged on a macron over our “a” rather than one of those lame umlauts.™

The seemingly stock clip-art now outside Alon is a tad ambiguous in terms of illustrating a vision for the resort, but relax, the project has a very concrete concept in mind. Here’s proof: “Central to our vision for the resort is the careful consideration, creative exploration, detailed definition, and uncompromising execution of the resort experience,” says Andrew Pascal.

So, in layperson terms, “We actually have no clue what Alon is going to be this early in the process, but it’s going to kick ass, so maybe just back up off us, cupcake.” Or something along those lines.

Alon Las Vegas

Alon Las Vegas. Where anorexia isn’t a diagnosis, it’s a badge of honor.™

Given the line-up of talent being assembled at Alon Las Vegas, and the whopping $4 billion it will cost to build, anticipation is at an all-time high.

We love Las Vegas newness, and we can’t wait to learn more about the secretive project in the months to come.

Alon Las Vegas

Here’s a peek over the fence at Alon, looking toward Resorts World. That’s a lot of empty lot.

Alon Las Vegas is expected to open in mid-2018. This blog expects to breach the resort’s security sometime in late 2017.

Update (12/10/15): It’s being reported investor interest in Alon Las Vegas is “diminishing.” Yikes! Read more.

Alon Las Vegas

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10 Surprising Things About Las Vegas Nightclubs We Learned Cramming for a Radio Interview

We love being a guest on KNPR, the Las Vegas public radio station. We love it because
it makes us feel important, because it’s always great conversation and because we
always learn something.

Our most recent KNPR invitation was for a segment about Las Vegas nightclubs. While
we are not an avid club-goer, we are most definitely an avid club-observer, and not
knowing a lot about a subject has never impeded our ability to form opinions about
it.

Tao nightclub

Tao Nightclub’s name was inspired by a Chinese concept meaning “path,” “route” or “means to making a metric ass-ton of money.”

In the days leading up to our interview, we prepped intensively by doing our own
interviews with Las Vegas nightlife insiders. Many of the things we learned didn’t
make it on-air, but we figure you’ve got some time to kill, so here are some tidbits we found intriguing.

1. Clubs Sometimes Bus in Pretty People from L.A.

Las Vegas nightlife is a mysterious creature. For example, when a club isn’t filling
up with enough pretty people, it may actually bus in attractive people from Los
Angeles. Which is in an entirely different state than Las Vegas. More pretty people
creates more buzz, more buzz creates more business and more business creates more
revenue. Crazy, but true.

Tryst nightclub

Related: Suck it, diversity. See also #9 on our list.

2. Street Promoters Who Ask for Money Are Scam Artists

Club promoters on the Las Vegas Strip fall into two neat categories. There are those
working with clubs whose job it is to fill up the club with attractive people,
typically women. Others are scam artists, plain and simple. They create fake IDs and
often sell fake nightclub passes. How do you tell them apart? If they ask for money,
or a tip, they’re a scammer. Legitimate promoters aren’t selling anything. If you
encounter the other kind, flee.

3. “Bottle Rats” Are a Thing

There’s an entire subculture inside Las Vegas nightclubs industry insiders refer to
as “bottle rats.” These are women who roam the club looking for men with tables and
bottle service. They flirt until they’re invited into one of these exclusive,
expensive areas, and they mooch drinks. They’re not technically prostitutes, but the
practice is sort of the same business model, except without the sex. Usually.

4. Hosts Sometimes Ask for Photos Before Giving Comps

One of the realities of Las Vegas nightclubs is attractive, young women rule. Hosts
are highly-motivated to bring in that demographic, and will often give groups of
attractive women comps of bottle service. In one case, a Hakkasan host was outed as
calling guests “whales” and “hippos,” and all hell broke loose. The latest practice
is for some nightclub hosts to request photos of guests before approving their comp.
Wrong, sexist and superficial, yes, but also reality.

SLS Life Nightclub

Not every nightclub is a sure-fire money-maker. Life at SLS had high hopes but closed quickly and will soon be replaced with a live music venue.

5. It’s Not the Club, It’s the Management

Club-goers unfamiliar with Las Vegas often assume hotels own and operate their
nightclubs. Not the case. Hotels hire management companies to run their clubs, so
your experience is more a reflection of the management company than the resort
itself. There are just a few of these companies in Las Vegas, with the most popular
clubs being managed by just a couple of big players. Some companies get a reputation
for having less-desirable clubs. Before Light Group was bought by Hakkasan Group, its
clubs (1 OAK at Mirage, Light at Mandalay Bay, Bank at Bellagio) were considered to
be less cool, have shadier practices and less overall cache. The cult of management
companies is real.

Light Nightclub

Behind-the-scenes drama means Light Nightclub at Mandalay Bay won’t be Light might longer.

6. Hosts Are a Nightclub’s Sales Force

Nightclub hosts are what make Sin City’s nightclub business one of the most
remarkable success stories in the history of the city. Hosts, usually men, are the
hustlers who network and schmooze and pull in customers who are going to spend.
Nightclub hosts make a commission on what they sell, and they make tips on top of
that lucrative source of income. (It’s not uncommon for clubbers to spend $5,000-
$10,000 on bottle service during the course of an evening.) Interestingly, hosts pool
their tips.

7. Seventy Percent of a Club’s Revenue is Bottle Service

Bottle service is the engine that drives the massive profits of Las Vegas nightclubs.
A host’s job is to try and get customer’s to commit to a minimum they’re going to
spend before they ever step foot into the club, and to get them to spend more once
they’re inside. We’re of the opinion they shouldn’t call it “bottle service,” but
rather “celebrity service.” Because when you get bottle service, you’re a really big
deal, even if only for a night.

Lavo casino Las Vegas

Nightclubs make big bucks from cover charges and liquor sales. Lavo at Venetian recently added a new revenue stream, table games.

8. Nightclubs Have a Zero Tolerance Policy About Illegal Activity

Back in the day, hosts and other nightclub staffers would regularly supply customers
with drugs and prostitutes. The prime directive was to keep the customer happy, no
matter how outlandish the request. Now, however, the prime directive is, “WTF were we
thinking?” Clubs had their cages rattled by law enforcement to the point where now,
if you ask someone on staff at a nightclub for something illegal, you’ll be reported
to security and removed from the club. Staying open and making money are paramount,
and clubs no longer tolerate illegal activity of any kind. Sure, it happens, but the
nodding and winking by club staff and management is a thing of the past.

Update (11/20/15): Despite efforts to self-regulate, the Nevada Gaming Commission has made it clear nightclubs need to do a better job of monitoring potentially illegal activity. Read more.

Foundation Room

In 2014, the Foundation Room at Mandalay Bay was fined $500,000 for narcotics and prostitution violations. Pocket change for a nightclub, but the venue’s legal and PR nightmare reverberates even today.

9. The Customer Mix at a Club is a Thing

The make-up of a club’s clientele is of critical importance to the success of a Las Vegas nightclub. Nightclub managers explicitly tell their hosts who they want, and hosts deliver. This includes not only the gender mix but also the racial mix. Having too much of an “urban” clientele is nearly as dangerous as being considered a “sausage factory” (a club with too many men). Clubs generally claim to prefer a 2-to-1 ratio of women to men, but the truth is the ultimate mix for a nightclub would be 99% young attractive women and 1% wealthy guys who like to spend money to meet and impress them.

10. Nearly All the World’s Most Successful Clubs Are in Las Vegas

According to the experts, a full seven of the top 10 most financially successful nightclubs in
the entire world are in Las Vegas: XS (#1), Hakkasan (#2), Marquee (#3), Tao (#4),
Surrender (#6), Hyde (#9) and Lavo (#10). Both XS and Hakkasan each rake in more than
$100 million a year. Las Vegas has got this down cold.

Nightclubs in Las Vegas continue to thrive, and lots of nightlife newness is in the
works.

The new Omnia at Caesars Palace, formerly Pure, is crushing it in a world-class way.

Pure nightclub

Even when you’re big in Vegas, you can always be bigger. Pure is now Omnia.

Tryst at Wynn recently closed after a decade, with a new concept, Intrigue, in the works.

Intrigue Nightclub Las Vegas

Intrigue promises to move away from what it calls the “DJ phenomenon.” The rest of us refer to is as “You paid them WHAT?!”

Nightlife impresario Jesse Waits, formerly of XS and Tryst, has moved over
to the $4 billion Alon resort project.

There’s never a dull moment in the world of Las Vegas nightclubs, and only the strong survive.

If you’re hungry for more about Las Vegas nightclubs, you can check out our appearance on KNPR radio, along with Greg Costello, director of customer development for Hyde at Bellagio.

We’d love to hear your Las Vegas nightclub insights and experiences. We hate learning new things, but in this case, we’ll make an exception.

Riviera Slot Machines Get Second Life at The D Las Vegas as Vintage Vegas Floor Goes Ticket-In, Ticket Out

If you’re missing the now-closed Riviera, you’re in luck. The D Las Vegas has integrated dozens of Riviera slot machines into its Vintage Vegas floor, while phasing out its coin machines.

The D Las Vegas

The Vintage Vegas floor at The D is also the Vue Bar floor, or as we like to call it, our home away from home.

Ever since The D purchased more than 850 Riviera slot machines back in June, the downtown casino (formerly Fitzgerald’s) has been swapping out 15-20 per week with existing machines on its second floor, a floor devoted to classic machines.

Now, the only coin-operated slot machine at The D is the popular Sigma Derby.

Sigma Derby

When you play Sigma Derby, you don’t just win money, you win lifelong friends. Which we should totally trademark.

The move to TITO (ticket-in, ticket-out) means The D’s second floor cage will be dismantled, and coin redemption from Sigma Derby will be handled in the casino’s main cage, downstairs.

The D Las Vegas

It’s curtains for The D’s second floor cage.

The integration of the Riviera’s machines means a greater variety of games for players, and far fewer headaches for The D.

There’s a long list of reasons most Las Vegas casinos don’t offer coin-operated machines. Some of the reasons are obvious, others are a little more technical.

The owner of The D Las Vegas, Derek Stevens, says, “The games from the Riv had some advantages over the machines we previously had on the second floor. For example, many of the games at The D previously wouldn’t accept the new $5 or $20 bill. There wasn’t any ability to fix this problem, as the bill validator manufacturer for those machines had long since gone out of business, and those slot machines couldn’t run without that specific type of bill validator. It forced us to keep ‘old’ bills in our cages and slot techs with wallets of old bills to swap out for new bills from customers.”

The technical term in casino parlance is “huge pain in the ass.”

The D

We have personally found those Wheel of Fortune machines on the right to be very loose. Especially after a couple of cocktails.

Stevens comments, “I decided to keep the Vintage Vegas theme, but just change the games out so all the games have TITO and bill validators that not only work but also have the ability to detect counterfeits, something that has become epidemic over the last 3-4 months. In some cases, we replaced old machines with older machines, but with the necessary TITO and bill validators.”

It goes without saying the cost of maintaining a coin-operated slot floor is far more expensive than having non-coin machines. Although we just said it, so perhaps it doesn’t go without saying after all.

While there’s a certain charm to grime-covered hands and the “clink” of coins falling into a “hopper,” it can get old. There are still a few spots in Las Vegas where you can play coins, but the demand for such machines is fading fast.

Derek Stevens says he’s seen the demand for coin-operated slots dwindling, especially within the last five years.

The D Las Vegas

“We don’t need your validation!” scream the bills. Um, wrong.

Overall, about 200 slot machines from the Riviera have been placed on the casino floor at The D and its sister casino, Golden Gate.

The second floor of The D is a great place to get intimate with the history of Las Vegas. If your hands are feeling too clean, bust open some rolls of quarters and bet on your favorite Sigma Derby horse. Otherwise, give a former Riviera slot machine a try.

And before you do any of that, rub the casino’s Blarney Stone. Long story.

Full disclosure: The D Las Vegas is a member of the Fremont Street Experience family of casinos. We work at Fremont Street Experience. Our opinions remain our own.

Downtown’s Insert Coins Closes, Owner Says It’s Temporary, Don’t Hold Your Breath

Insert Coins, a unique combination of video arcade and nightclub, has closed on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.

DTLV.com first reported the news, quoting owner Christopher LaPorte as saying the closure is temporary, but from what we can tell, this one has wishful thinking written all over it.

Insert Coins

Hopes were high for the Insert Coins brand. An expansion to Minneapolis lasted about a year before the operation was sold.

LaPorte says the closure is due to “a rapidly changing DTLV business environment.” Which is odd, since the business environment in downtown Las Vegas appears to be thriving, with a slate of new restaurants and bars opening just in the last few months.

But the boom in downtown watering holes could be part of the reason Insert Coins closed. Could this be a sign Fremont East has hit a saturation point for bars and restaurants? And is the trouble limited to bars? We hear downtown boutique Coterie, across from Insert Coins, recently closed, too.

LaPorte has said publicly business has been challenging due to “the concentration of bars along Fremont Street.” He’s also said, “Market share has definitely been cut to pieces. There are not enough people to split among all of us. There’s very little residential. Parking isn’t as easy here.”

LaPorte also mentions Insert Coins encountered “financial challenges over the past year that we cannot currently sustain.”

Insert Coins Las Vegas

Insert Coins opened in 2011 and boasted not only DJs, but also a sizeable collection of classic arcade machines and game consoles.

We’d heard no rumblings Insert Coins was in trouble, but we do know one thing for certain: Financially successful establishments in Las Vegas don’t close, unless it’s to expand. This definitely isn’t that.

Here’s the full statement from Insert Coins, including the requisite obfuscations and annoying parenthetical affectation: “Due to a rapidly changing DTLV business environment, Insert Coin(s) will be temporarily closing its doors. We are immensely proud of our four and a half years being a landmark for Downtown Las Vegas and our numerous philanthropic contributions made to the Vegas community at large. Being a part of the transformation of Downtown Vegas and enduring the highs and lows of these changes, we thank you for allowing us to present the Insert Coin(s) brand as the unique combination of videogame and nightlife entertainment that we never lost belief in. Unfortunately, that commitment to the brand and the DTLV economic environment have resulted in financial challenges over the past year that we cannot currently sustain. We will continue to work to bring back to the community the Insert Coin(s) brand that you loved and we thank you again for your patronage and support as your favorite videogame and music venue.”

It’s been reported “a notice was attached to the business’ front door signifying an eviction.” Also, “The notice states a landlord complaint was made, though, details were not specified.” Matter, meet crux. This is the part where you should probably ignore the official statement. We almost always do.

Notice? Naturally, we stopped by for a pic.

Insert Coins eviction

Insert Coins’ sticker of shame.

Insert Coins was a refreshing twist on the typical nightclub or lounge, and seemed a good fit for the booming Fremont East district, so we’re sorry to see it go.

Caesars Palace Now Has 40% Less T&A: Shadow Bar, Pussycat Dolls Party Pit Close

Woe is us. The one-time bacchanalian paradise known as Caesars Palace has lost approximately 40% of its T&A in recent weeks. Is nothing sacred in Las Vegas?

First came news Shadow Bar has closed at the Strip hotel-casino. At this longtime bastion of T&A, women danced provocatively behind back-lit screens, their silhouettes tempting customers with just enough tease to titillate, but without any actual nudity.

Caesars Palace Shadow Bar

Gone are the pulsations, the undulations, the palpitations and several other words we would not have been able to spell without the assistance of the Internet.

Shadow Bar was the last remaining shadow dancer experience in Las Vegas.

Sin City regulars will perhaps remember a similar shadow-based effect, albeit the result of projection machines rather than live dancers, at the former O’Sheas.

O'Sheas shadow dancers

When they pulled the plug on the shadow dancers at O’Sheas, we wept harder than someone forced to listen to an isolated Mariah Carey vocal track.

As if the closure of Shadow Bar weren’t dismaying enough, another T&A stronghold has fallen victim to the ongoing changes at Caesars Palace. The Pussycat Dolls party pit, complete with its sassy go-go dancers and sexy paramilitary uniform-clad dealers, has vanished.

Pussycat Dolls casino

The Pussycat Dolls broke up in 2009. Which might explain why, toward the end, the Pussycat Dolls party pit felt more like a stalker than a sex kitten.

Thanks to our friends at the Five Hundy by Midnight podcast for alerting us to this vexing news.

The closure of both Shadow Bar and the Pussycat Dolls Casino are related to a renovation of the hotel’s nightclub, Pure. The defunct Pure will reopen as Omnia Nightclub on March 12, 2015, and Shadow Bar is expected to reopen as a new night spot operated by Hakkasan Group, the nightlife and restaurant empire charged with running Omnia. The Pussycat Dolls party pit was taking up prime real estate near the nightclub, so its nine lives were all used up.

Word that Shadow Bar and the Pussycat Dolls pit have closed is insult-to-injury for T&A fans still reeling from the departure of Angel Perrino from “Absinthe” (photo below) a year ago for her high maintenance behavior.

Angel Porrino Absinthe

There was a giant balloon, tap dancing and pasties. And, yes, we realize that sentence could only ever makes sense in the context of Las Vegas.

Here’s hoping Caesars Palace will soon regain its standing as a hotbed of hedonism. Which we’re thinking would make a pretty good band name.

While we wait, we’ll have to make due with what little T&A is left at Caesars Palace.

Venus statue

Don’t lie. Venus has piqued your quarry-osity.

Find the Venus outside at one of the approximately 14 pools at Caesars Palace. Where, come to think of it, there may be an untapped supply of T&A. It’s Vegas, so feel free to tap that.

Today’s Security Breach at Paris Las Vegas

We never met a construction wall in Las Vegas we didn’t like!

There’s a little work going on outside Paris Las Vegas, on the north side of Sugar Factory.

Paris construction

Construction walls are the ultimate Las Vegas tease.

A peek over the wall shows some work-in-progress. Small-scale Vegas newness on the way.

Paris construction

Climbing the stairway to bottle service.

It appears there’s a new staircase going up to Chateau Nightclub, specifically, to The Deck. The Deck is the outside (terrace) part of Chateau Nightclub. Read more.

Not the most earth-shattering Las Vegas news, but if we don’t breach security every so often, we start experiencing withdrawal symptoms including nausea, dizziness and vomiting. So, sort of like being in a nightclub.