We Owned the Night

How Las Vegas’ brightest nightlife brands lit up the 2013 Sundance Film Festival

Friday night: Hyde. Saturday: Wynn Resorts nightclubs and Tao. It would be a typical Las Vegas weekend had I not actually been in Park City, Utah. Sure, the 2013 Sundance Film Festival did its thing, attracting the who’s who of Hollywood (and everyone who wants to be near them) to that tony Utah ski town for 10 days of gifting suites, photo ops, premier dinners and parties and, of course, the films. But by night, and more than any year prior, Las Vegas exerted its considerable power over the people, wooing them in from the cold with hot parties curated by the nightlife brands they trust when they’re on our far drier turf.

XS, Tryst, Surrender and Encore Beach Club merged January 17-21 to take over Park City Live, the 10,000-square-foot art-deco nightclub and concert hall formerly known as Harry’s O’s. Fresh from the CoverGirl makeup chair or other such gourmet experiences as Patrón’s muddle-your-own-mojito bar, celebrities including Paris Hilton, Adrian Grenier and an inexplicably shirtless Corey Feldman turned out for the Wynn Resorts lineup: British electronic-music duo Nero, Swedish dance-music artist Avicii, award-winning producer Afrojack and new-for-2013 Wynn resident DJ, Cedric Gervais, as well as hip-hop recording artist 2 Chainz.

But it’s not only the talent that makes the trek to Utah—a few familiar faces from the VIP host roster were on hand, and the air tasted sweet when the Las Vegas-style Champagne wars broke out. One guest reportedly purchased 60 bottles solely for the purpose of hosing down the dance-floor partiers rocking custom XS ponchos. (I entered into my own Champagne war, of sorts, when our tiny cocktail server couldn’t get leverage on the large-format bottle of Veuve Clicquot purchased for our table. Long story short, enter yours truly with a bar towel and a gentle booth-side manner.)

Meanwhile, Tao Group embarked on its eighth year on the mountain, once again transforming a parking garage at the Village at the Lift into, well, Tao! Jesse Williams, Mekhi Phiffer, Karina Smirnoff and The Bachelorette’s Jef Holm were just a few of the celebs who set booted foot into the pop-up nightclub January 18-21 to party with DJs Vice, Politik, Jesse Marco, Sinatra, Theory and Samantha Ronson, and to catch a performance by Nas.

Making its Sundance debut, The Act explored another angle of Sundance entertainment—scandal. Performers representing the Palazzo’s new nightclub were hired to entertain guests and clients of the Creative Artists Agency on January 20. “I thought it would be a tamer burlesque show integrating live art,” Jordan Fogle told the Los Angeles Times; Fogle is the chief executive of the Mint Agency, which booked the performers. “Instead, it was like going down the rabbit hole. It was like an acid trip the whole night.” Guests and clients of the powerful talent firm reportedly expressed shock at the sight of prop cocaine, erotic toys and simulated sex.

These vignettes would be the brainchildren of nightlife impresario Simon Hammerstein, who famously told Vegas Seven that his performers’ “questionable” acts might just send “the faint of heart running for McCarran.” I’d argue CAA should have known just with whom they were dealing. Hammerstein 1, killjoys 0.

Also present for the snowbound shenanigans was Hyde, which set up shop for the second year at Downstairs nightclub, owned by actor/DJs Danny and Chris Masterson. The Ainsworth decamped from the Hard Rock Hotel to host the Paige Hospitality Group Football Viewing Party sponsored by Element Electronics and Moët Hennessy, attended by Kristen Bell, Jack Huston, Paris Hilton and her new pet, River Viiperi.

One person none too pleased about Hilton’s presence at Sundance was its founder, Robert Redford. During a panel discussion, the Toronto Sun says Redford told reporters, “She didn’t have anything to do with the films. What movie is she in? She and her hard-partying, swag-grabbing cohorts have made the festival not much fun. There are too many people who come to the festival to leverage their own self-interest.” Who knew Robert Redford was such a party pooper?

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