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Chris Jones

Vegas Clubs Taking Party on the Road

21 March 2005

LAS VEGAS -- Late next week, Las Vegas' hottest party will occur inside a massive South Beach mansion located nearly 2,600 miles east of the Strip.

But local nightlife lovers, rest assured: This city's flirtation with Miami vice is only temporary. And if all goes according to plan, Thursday's swanky soiree could soon bring more vitality to Las Vegas' already intoxicating late-night scene.

To better promote this city as a center of world-class nightclubbing, the operators of 14 local clubs have joined with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to host a $45,000-plus party for more than 1,000 VIPs. Among other A-list stars, invited guests include Chris Rock, Charlize Theron, Colin Farrell and Jennifer Aniston.

The event will feature acts from Cirque du Soleil and music from popular local disc jockeys. It was timed to coincide with Miami's annual Winter Music Conference, a 40,000-attendee gathering that attracts celebrities from around the world.

The stars' presence, along with the accompanying media circus that typically surrounds them, should produce widespread media exposure for the party's hosts, said Marc Jay, the creator of next week's Miami Beach bash.

"This has turned into one of the hottest tickets," said Jay, public relations director for the Ice Las Vegas nightclub at 200 E. Harmon Avenue. "We've got so much alcohol being donated it's quite frightening. There's enough, I think, for everyone to have six bottles of vodka," he joked.

While Jay hopes his guests have a good time, he admits there's more on his agenda than witnessing Paris Hilton swallow a few mixed drinks. As Las Vegas plays a larger role in the global nightlife scene, Jay said it's important to promote the city's nightlife experience rather than tout one particular club.

"It's a fantastic selling point: 14 of Las Vegas' biggest nightclubs," said Jay, who first thought of hosting the party while partying last year with Mike Milner, operations director for Studio 54 at MGM Grand. "We should do this again at the Sundance Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival and other big media events."

Lia Rispoli, corporate sales director for Ark Las Vegas Restaurant Corp., the parent company of Vivid The Club and V Bar at The Venetian, said many local nightclub operators have realized competition among peers doesn't need to be cutthroat.

"We're all going after visitors' dollars, but if someone comes here for a week, they aren't going to eat in the same restaurant every night and they're not going to go to the same nightclub," said Rispoli, who also planned Thursday's gathering. "We've got a dream team of nightclub operators here (in Las Vegas). We have to complement each other."

Along with Jay, Rispoli is working to form a nightclub operators association, much like the Nevada Restaurant Association or other successful trade groups based in the valley. Political differences have prevented such alliances in other club-laden cities, she said, but Rispoli believes next week's party is evidence a local association would work.

"We do it better than anyone else, and we need to show that to everyone else," Rispoli, a seven-year resident, said of Las Vegas' club scene.

Terry Jicinsky, the convention authority's senior vice president of marketing, said next week's promotion is similar to the convention authority's Golf Course Consortium and Shop Las Vegas programs, which allow Southern Nevada businesses in those industries to jointly promote their offerings before interested media outlets and travel planners.

"Working together creates an opportunity to make a bigger splash," Jicinsky said. "(The clubs) all have individual contacts that they can bring to the table ... and the synergy that's created by bringing them all to one place has been proven in both the golf and shopping program."

Should Jay and Rispoli form an association, the convention authority would likely assist its efforts, Jicinsky added.

Other Las Vegas clubs participating in Thursday's party are Pure and OPM (Caesars Palace); ghostbar and Rain in the Desert (The Palms); Ra (Luxor); Teatro Euro Bar and Tabu (MGM Grand); Drai's (Barbary Coast); Tangerine (Treasure Island); and Risqu (Paris Las Vegas).