Miami to Ibiza With Bobby Runway

The SBE talent buyer dishes on the sounds of SLS’ party spots. (Spoiler: Sundays have all gone Pete Tong.)

Photo by Anthony Mair

Photo by Anthony Mair

Mention the name Bobby Runway to anyone on the Hollywood scene and they will immediately tell you that the former Detroit-DJ-cum-L.A.-promoter is one of the most charismatic people they know. While Robert Gleason has left his promoter days behind, he is now responsible for all talent buying (read: DJ bookings) across SBE’s nightlife portfolio in L.A. as well as the new SLS Las Vegas. Following a recent walk of the new property, including Life Nightclub, Foxtail and the Sayers Club, we sat down with Gleason, now in his eighth year with SBE, to discuss what will set the resort’s nightlife and entertainment offerings apart from the rest of the city.

Will the music programming be similar across all of the SLS nightlife/daylife venues?

Life, our electronic-dance-music megaclub, will be open Fridays and Saturdays, and then Sundays starting August 31. Foxtail will be more open format and celebrity driven, with appearances, local talent and celebrity DJs. The Foxtail pool will be electronic music, while Life Beach will be a mix of open format and electronica.

Will your Las Vegas bookings mirror what you are doing in L.A.?

While there will be shared residencies per se, Create in Los Angeles has the ability to offer a wider spectrum of music. It’s a place where we try new things and showcase up-and-coming artists and different genres of music. Vegas caters to a more mainstream crowd, and once you lock your residents in for that year, you typically do 12 to 20 shows for each resident. So there is not much room to bring in anyone else.

A lot of turntable talent has already locked in residencies with other resorts. Does that make your job more challenging?

It does, but surprisingly there are a lot of artists available without residencies. We have also taken a different approach to our bookings. We are a new venue on the Strip, and we want to grow and we want artists who are going to grow with us. We want to build artists and not just take artists for one year and then see them go somewhere else. We want to find artists on the upswing of their career, in whom we see potential. Some of these artists may not be megastars right now, but they will be in the next year to five years.

Can you give some examples?

Rebecca & Fiona definitely—we see potential in them. We have worked with them a lot; they have a residency with us at Create, and played SLS Miami during Ultra Music Fest. I also think Erick Morillo is a unique booking that some people may view as controversial.

Controversial how?

He is in the process of rebuilding his career, but at the same time he is probably one of the most intellectual artists out there. It is a statement booking, in that we’re not going in the same direction as everyone else on the Strip. We are going after artists who are intellectually minded in their music and want to create something special with us.

We want artists who will leave the fans saying, “We want more.” We don’t want artists in a booth on the stage, but ones whose night we can create an entire theme around. That is the concept that will help distinguish Life. We want our guests to know that when they come to the SLS they’re going to get a show.

I’ve been hearing some buzz about your Sundays.

We are going to try to bring in some unique sounds that haven’t been heard in a mainstream format in Vegas before, sounds that have traditionally been done in after-hours formats. We are really going to gear our Sundays toward more of the Ibiza-style residencies, and offer a more intellectual sound. A lot of the Ibiza residents are also very excited to bring their brands over after the summer has wrapped. This is something that our VIPs really seem to enjoy, and we hope that the Vegas industry as well as all of our guests will as well.

Will you partner with Ibiza’s Ushuaia nightclub like you did during Ultra in Miami?

They have their Ants party, and we love that island staple. Our partnership in Miami in March was great, and I can certainly see some cross promotion in the future. I can tell you already that we will be doing a Pete Tong residency [called “All Gone With Pete Tong”], and he will be spearheading our Sundays.

SLS Las Vegas opens to the public at midnight on the evening of August 22. On August 23, Life Nightclub opens with Erick Morillo at the helm. Laidback Luke, Dirty South and Deep Dish with Pete Tong play Friday, Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend, respectively.