Report Card Time

Checking in on nightlife’s Class of 2010

Here we are staring down the barrel of another New Year. While the local economy has crawled along since 2008, the nightlife industry has pushed forward undaunted, like a Red Bull’d-up bottle baron in the face of a dozen short skirts and miles of rejection.

While 2011 will see new clubs popping up at the Cosmopolitan, Luxor, the Trop, Paris and Planet Hollywood, it was 365 days ago that another crop of venues was set to debut with New Year’s Eve grand openings.

The influx of CityCenter brought newcomers Haze and Gold Lounge from the Light Group, plus the Eva Longoria-owned Eve Nightclub at Crystals. The Hard Rock Hotel’s HRH Tower expansion made room for Vanity while the Venetian tried to revive the former Vivid/Venus space with Smokin’ Hot Aces.

A weak economy didn’t do anyone any favors, something with which newcomers in ’11 will have to contend.

“We knew we were going to book great events like Eva Longoria and P. Diddy and Kim Kardashian,” Eve director of operations Roy Saunders said. “We thought we were just going to blow the roof off of everything. We’ve done well, but there have been a lot of challenges with people spending money.”

Vanity struggled at first with getting out from under the shadow of Body English, and then grappled with a management shakeup and the transition of marketing, management and VIP services from the Hard Rock Nightlife Group to Angel Management Group by September.

“With a new nightclub, [in] the first year, a lot of people don’t know about the nightclub. It’s tough because Body English was open for five to six years,” Hard Rock director of nightlife operations Matthew Minichino said. “[Body English] was the name that was on the tip of everyone’s tongue. With one year under our belt, [Vanity] gets a little more notoriety.”

Of the Class of 2010, rock club Smokin’ Hot Aces was the only casualty, though the year wasn’t without troubles for even the newly minted flagship club for one of the nightlife scene’s top operators.

“It was a difficult time. Opening up with a new hotel had its pluses and minuses,” Haze general manager Kevin Dailey said. “We powered through it. Haze made a name for Aria versus Aria making a name for Haze.

“The new people? They’re going to have a hard time. CityCenter is still having a hard time filling the rooms. So anybody else is going to have a hard time filling rooms, and filling rooms has a pretty big play on filling your room, as a nightclub. Hotel occupancy always plays a big role. Luckily, Light Group has a big marketing machine. We made our own traffic there. That’s going be, I think, anybody’s hard time, is making their own traffic.” Not that something so trite as a “hard time” is going to slow down the next eager crop of grand openings, or the one after that—or the one after that.

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