Come January 1, when the champagne spills are being wiped from the floors and furniture of Drai’s Nightclub, Konstantine Deslis will already be thinking about New Year’s Eve 2018.
Predicting the future of Las Vegas nightlife, or at least planning for several possible futures, falls on the shoulders of the director of entertainment, who is closing in on four years with Drai’s Las Vegas. This New Year’s Weekend is the culmination of a 2017 spent analyzing trends, counting ticket sales and placing heavy bets on a lineup of resident artists that has featured Wiz Khalifa, T.I., Fabolous, Migos, Trey Songz, Future and Chris Brown.
The latter three get the call, respectively, beginning Friday, December 29, in what Deslis describes as “a perfectly balanced mixture of the hip-hop, pop, and R&B worlds” that will usher in a New Year on the Strip.
With 2017 winding down, we asked Deslis what he’s learned from another year running nightlife on the roof of The Cromwell, and what he predicts for the year to come.
What did you find to be a successful strategy at Drai’s in 2017?
“Find the waves and ride them.” A big part of the Drai’s story over the past three years has been our timing and ability to launch a performer each year right as they ascend to super stardom; with acts like The Weeknd for example; and Chris Brown, Future, and Migos in 2017 who had as big a year as anyone could have imagined. Each year we try and find [an] act that is about to pop and ride the wave.
What role has Drai’s played in evolving nightlife?
I think Las Vegas continues to be the barometer of where the global nightlife scene is and where it’s going. At Drai’s, we take great pride in being the forerunner of what we feel is a major movement in nightlife everywhere, [with] live performing acts being a big focus. Drai’s was the first one to make that move and shift away from only using DJs. In 2017, we started to see the rest of the marketplace follow our lead more so than any year prior.
What’s been your biggest takeaway from 2017?
The biggest takeaway I have from this year regarding nightlife is how incredible it was to see the people of the service, daylife and nightlife industries come together following the [1 October] tragedy to stand “Vegas Strong.” The people of our industries make up the heart and soul of this city, and it was very evident at how strong and tight-knit this community really is.
What’s been your favorite memory of 2017 at Drai’s?
Watching Victor Drai be honored by his son Dustin with a Key to the City on behalf of Clark County during the 20th anniversary celebration of Drai’s Afterhours in June has to take the cake. Victor, Michael Gruber, Brian Affronti and Dustin Drai have all made me feel like part of the family and legacy they have built over the years. Victor is someone that I get to learn from every day. His contribution to the nightlife scene and Las Vegas overall is something that amazes me, and to learn from him and the rest of the team is truly a blessing. To watch him get that recognition and hear the stories that carved the path to where we all are today was pretty surreal.
How will you plan for 2018?
We continue to harbor an obsession to think outside the box and push the envelope week in, week out. We program our calendar based on who is in town, what is going on, and what is relevant. But most importantly we never allow ourselves to get comfortable. Each year is a chance to build and improve, and 2018 is setting up to be our most exciting and best year yet.
One year from now, how do you think Las Vegas nightlife will have changed?
I think you’re going to continue to see hip-hop and Top 40 music become a part of the fabric of the sounds you hear in every nightclub, lounge and venue. This year, hip-hop unseated rock as the most listened-to music genre in the world, and I believe it’s a sign of the times. I do expect to see artists continue to blend sounds, like hip-hop and dance, to create a fusion that is tailored for nightclubs, and Drai’s has been on the forefront of that new direction. But even when things change they always stay the same.
Name three essential things you need for a perfect NYE in Las Vegas?
Close friends and family. Exceptional music and live entertainment. Rooftop views of New Year’s Eve fireworks backed by the best soundtrack in the world at Drai’s Nightclub. With a cold glass of champagne in hand, of course.
Drai’s Nightclub kicks off its New Year’s Weekend celebration Friday, December 29. Details and ticket information can be found on the Drai’s website.