Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013 | 2 a.m.
Nightlife staple Drai’s After Hours will throw a final bash at Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon this Sunday before the hotel closes for a yearlong renovation and rebranding.
The after-hours venue, which typically runs from 1 a.m. to sunup, will reopen in conjunction with the new boutique hotel at the end of the year. In the meantime, owner Victor Drai hopes to move the club to a temporary location — rumored to be Bally’s — by the end of April.
Las Vegas may be a 24-hour town, but with nightclubs expanding and staying open later than ever, after-hours venues have become a niche market that Drai’s has managed to dominate over the course of its 15-year reign at Bill’s.
“Ten years ago, it used to be that when a club would wind down, you’d go to an after-hours place. Now, if you’re tired of one place, you have five or six other major nightclubs you could go to instead of only one after hours,” says nightlife guru and marketing veteran Jack Colton, explaining that competition from mainstream nightclubs and seasonal parties at pools and brunches restricts the after-hours market to a small but loyal customer base. “There are only so many hours in the day.”
Drai’s hiatus could mean a chance for other after-hours venues, like the Artisan and the newly reopened Body English at the Hard Rock Hotel, to encroach on the increasingly narrow marketplace. Nonetheless, Drai remains confident that his club will retain its patrons in the interim. He cites its central, standalone location and popularity with the late-working industry crowd as key factors to his club’s success.
“This is not the first time they tried to do [after hours] at Hard Rock; they tried it before, and it bombed. ... Every year, there is a hotel that tries, and it won’t happen,” he says.
“It’s about location. I’m not a big casino. When you go out at 4 in the morning to party and go home at 5 or 6, you don’t want to have to cross a thousand miles of casino and people. I’m the bar where people go to after work, they know each other, they know they’re going to be treated properly. That’s what we provided for so many years."
Drai has no plans to make any changes to the 10,000-square-foot underground space while it’s closed, citing the club’s recent renovations and an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach. The nightlife mogul, who also helped launch mega-clubs Tryst at the Wynn and XS in Encore, is more interested in focusing on two new properties: Drai’s Beach Club and Drai’s Nightclub, slated to open in a sprawling 70,000-square-foot rooftop space atop the revamped hotel in 2014.
For its last hurrah this weekend, Drai’s will open its doors early at 10 p.m. with a red-carpet celebration hosted by Drai and featuring comedian Jeff Civillico, hypnotist Anthony Cools, actor Kevin Burke and the cast of Chippendales.