Few of us get to experience the Las Vegas nightclub in repose.
It’s a lot like walking the floor of a warehouse. Lights up. High ceilings. Wide aisles. Voices echo throughout the 27,000-square-foot space as a handful of workers haul crates of Moet and tinker with lights.
This is LAX Nightclub inside Luxor on the Thursday before New Year’s Eve. In less than 72 hours, the club will host upwards of 2,000 partygoers for the final bash of 2016. There are 10 boxes of confetti that still need to be prepared for the stroke of midnight, 1,000 balloons that need to be inflated and stuffed into the ceiling, 200 bottles of champagne that need to be chilled, and a new stage that needs to be built to accommodate the evening’s headliners.
It’s a long to-do-list, and a lot of responsibility to rest on one person’s shoulders.
Anthony Olheiser’s are pretty dependable.
“All of the other holiday weekends definitely prepare us for this,” he says. “There’s a lot of calmness that brings to you—when you’ve done this 10 or so times a year.”
This will be Olheiser’s 14th New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas. The Luxor’s Executive Director of Brand Activation cut his teeth in high-end day and nightlife on the Strip, leaving his mark at MGM Grand’s Tabu, Studio 54, and Wet Republic. He has been at the helm of LAX for about a year, much of which was spent planning for this weekend.
Now it’s crunch time. Any work being done on the floor needs to stop before the club opens for regular business tonight. Installation of the New Year’s Eve décor begins tomorrow, before another pause for the Friday night crowd. Then Olheiser’s team will be working on the finishing touches up until the doors open at 9 p.m. on Saturday.
“It’s a strong 72-hour push,” he says. “From today until Sunday morning I’ll go home to sleep for a couple of hours each night, and probably [work] 20-22 hours a day.”
Olheiser knows what he’s up against. Every business on the Strip—from Hakkasan to Bubba Gump Shrimp—will be competing for local and tourist dollars this weekend. Steve Aoki, Drake, and Maroon 5 are among the heavyweight acts designed to lure them in, and those are just the performers at other MGM properties.
LAX will counter with a programming strategy that has served the club well in 2016: “throwback” headliners, OG pioneers with cross-generational appeal that can shake hands and pose for pictures because they’re not confined to a DJ booth.
Olheiser’s team started drawing up a list of potential names in September. Instead of going with one act, LAX signed three: Warren G, Ying Yang Twins and Ginuwine.
“We thought, ‘Do we go in a different direction for New Year’s or do we go with what got us here?’” Olheiser says. “Now we’ll have three separate shows and performances all night long.”
He’s not kidding. The headliners may hail from an earlier era of hip-hop and R&B, but they’re not going to leave the crowd hanging as soon as the fireworks are over. The first performer will take the stage at 11:30 p.m., with the last set scheduled for 2 a.m.
If you’re holding a ticket to the night’s festivities, you’ll want to be in line by 8:30 p.m. to take advantage of the open bar from 9 to 11 p.m., Olheiser says.
“We’re going to do our best to get everybody ID’d before the doors open. Guests want to drink for two hours, not 90 minutes because it took 30 minutes to get in.”