Monday, March 8, 2010 | 12:48 p.m.
The four-day party whirl that surrounds the Nightclub & Bar convention and trade show celebrating 25 years in Las Vegas got underway last night with the kickoff festivities at Vanity in the new HRH Tower of the Hard Rock Hotel.
Among the stars scheduled to attend this year’s event running through the Wednesday night awards show are actor Dan Aykroyd, Wee Man, deejays Paul Oakenfold and Kid Capri, Iron Chef Dominique Crenn, Bravo’s Million Dollar Listings reality TV star Madison Hildebrand, Chicago Bears legend Willie Gault, Pittsburgh Pirates legend Bill Madlock, Thirsty Traveler host Kevin Brauch, Miss Nevada USA Juliana Erdesz and cocktail kings Dale DeGroff and Tony Abou-Ganim.
The official welcome address that kicks off the convention took place this morning, and then tonight is the official 25th anniversary opening party at Haze in MGM CityCenter’s Aria. Shortly after the ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the exhibit floor tomorrow, the Nightclub & Bar Awards presentations are made. Vegas DeLuxe reported the amazing number of Las Vegas clubs that won last month.
There are two parties tomorrow night, the GLBT event hosted by Madison Hildebrand at Tabu Ultra Lounge in MGM Grand and the Top 100 party at Victor Drai’s XS in Steve Wynn’s Encore. Dan Aykroyd will deliver the keynote address Wednesday morning, with parties Wednesday night at Emeril Lagasse’s Stadium in the Palazzo and the Nightclub Awards reception at Lavo in the Palazzo.
Although I cover nightclubs here as part of Vegas DeLuxe, I turned to our good friend respected Las Vegas nightlife journalist and event planner Jack Colton for the inside story. I asked Jack why Las Vegas won so big in the annual rankings. He told me: “Nightclubs in Las Vegas are a lot like a tree growing in a lush tropical forest. Our nightlife operators enjoy relatively lenient alcohol laws in a popular tourist market, providing substantially larger budgets to do everything it takes to consistently be considered the best.
“Everyone enjoys being recognized for their hard work, but there seems to be a pretty stark difference in how each of the nightclubs handles it. Newer nightclubs that are already the conversation of their customers will merely add a line mentioning that they won the title into their press releases. By contrast, older venues that have lost some of their luster over time will suddenly start adding ‘voted best’ taglines into their actual marketing campaigns.
“Nightlife awards are to Las Vegas what Fashion Week is to New York City, a natural fit! For the future, I think we will see the Vegas nightlife scene remain relatively stable for the next couple of years, with only a few new venues coming in and probably just as many slowly trickling out. Every operator that I’ve spoken to will admit to about a 13 percent drop in business compared to the same time in 2008. When you factor in that their clubs are now older and face much more competition by way of new venues, this means that Las Vegas nightlife as a whole has been somewhat insulated from the economic crisis compared to some of our other tourism industries.”
You can follow Jack’s regular coverage of the Las Vegas nightlife scene at JackColton.com.
We’ll have reports here at Vegas DeLuxe through Wednesday’s wrap, and as one of the judges for the awards and rankings this year, I’ll be at the final-night festivities at Tao and Lavo for our Thursday photo report.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.