Drai’s Nightclub production coordinator Aaron Gillam starts his workday around 5 p.m. on any given Thursday. Typical tasks include meeting with resident DJ Esco to go over playlists, grabbing dinner from Giada (he loves the broccolini) and ironing out show details before (unlike most in his position) hitting the stage to dance alongside some of the most influential names in the music business. Not bad for a kid from Youngstown, Ohio.
It wasn’t always so exciting. Gillam, who moved to Las Vegas when he was 21, started as a busser at La Cave Food & Wine Hideaway at Wynn, where he would walk to and from work. “There was a point where I was completely broke. I paid 69 cents in pennies for a hot dog,” he says. “I’ll never forget those times. Ever.”
Eventually, Gillam got a second job as a busser at Drai’s, where he would dance while working. “I’m always dancing. It’s what I love. I knew early on [that] was what I wanted to do.”
His upbeat personality caught the attention of Tao Group managing partner Jason Strauss. “He walked up to me one night and told me I looked like Kid Cudi. We hung out for a month before I learned what he did,” Gillam says. From there, the protégé saw an opportunity with the nightlife behemoth. Apparently, they both did.
“I wrote Jason an email saying exactly what I wanted to do as production coordinator at Tao, and how I wanted to do it.” Gillam says. “A month later I was hired.”
He stayed at Tao three years, creating the popular Mirror Man character—a dancing human disco ball—before returning to Drai’s where he performs nightly. “When I took the position, it was understood that I would be dancing as well,” he says. “I’m good at the business side of my job, but I’m also good at entertaining and getting a crowd excited. So I do both.” But for Gillam, who can’t help but smile anytime movement is mentioned, it doesn’t feel like work. “I love my job. I love the fact I’m able to do what I love. I can hit the stage and just be free.”
While Gillam started dancing when he was 6, he isn’t classically trained and never took choreography classes. Instead he has excelled based on raw skill and passion alone, which has made him a key fixture in the nightlife scene. Famous guests often seek Gillam out to join him onstage.
Yet for someone with rapidly increasing notability, the entertainer is surprisingly low-key. In fact, a lot of the charms that come with working in the industry go unnoticed by Gillam, who at 28 says he’s no longer interested in excess. Instead, he chooses to do his own thing. “People have a different perception of me. They think I’m Captain Turn-Up. In reality, I like being invisible. I like being at home, watching Netflix.”
“I believe anything is possible. If you stand by what you believe and put it in the atmosphere, anything can manifest.” – Aaron Gillam
Self-assured, Gillam is disinterested in anything that isn’t in the vicinity of the dream he’s chasing. So, what exactly is that goal? “Be happy,” he says. “Live and make enough money for my mom to stop working.”
For a guy who spends his weekends sharing a stage with the likes of Future, Trey Songz and Fabolous, the objective doesn’t seem far off. “I believe anything is possible. If you stand by what you believe and put it in the atmosphere, anything can manifest.”
And things are happening fast for Gillam, who makes a conscious effort not to take anything for granted. In 2017, at the invitation of Esco, he’ll spend six months on tour with the travelling DJ. “I’m just taking it all in. I’m not going to act like what’s happening is normal: I’m onstage, dancing with artists I’ve listened to my entire life. It’s not normal.”
While everything is pointed in the right direction, Gillam tries not to put much thought into what will happen, instead choosing to take each day as it comes. “The beautiful thing about life is not knowing what tomorrow will bring. We can wake up and be anyone. We really are able to be the architects of our own reality.”