Vegas dominates night life awards

The awards will be presented in Las Vegas, and chances are, plenty of them will stay here.

The Nightclub & Bar Awards, scheduled for March 8-10 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, honor the top night life venues across the country, with more than 200 entrants annually.

Like Ron Burgundy, they’re kind of a big deal.

And this go-round, Vegas has the night life category in a headlock.

Of the seven divisions, from “Nightclub of the Year” to “Mega-Club of the Year” to “Resident DJ,” Vegas properties rack up a massive 15 nominations, with XS, Tao and Rain earning multiple nods. By comparison, New York and the Los Angeles area, the two next best represented markets, score four nominations apiece. (And in the bar category, Frankie’s Tiki Room and its inimitable drink menu earned a nomination for “Cocktail Lounge of the Year.”)

Now, none of this is a new development. Since Ra and Studio 54 opened at the tail of the ’90s, Las Vegas has been steadily ascendant when it comes to high-end night life.

But these days, Vegas’ dominance in this arena has been solidified.

“I would say Vegas is the epicenter of night life in the U.S. right now,” says Donna Hood Crecca, publisher and editorial director of Nightclub & Bar magazine, which puts on the awards. “With the major venues offering bottle service, an extremely high level of personalized service, state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems, and just this over-the-top decor, (Las Vegas) has definitely set the bar on night life.”

Vegas is having such an impact in the night life realm, Hood says, that its influence is spreading elsewhere.

“What you see going on in night life across the country is what I call ‘Vegas nation,’ ” she explains. “There are cities all over the country that are trying to replicate the Vegas experience, with bottle service, the VIP host, very, very high-end customer service, high-end design elements. In New York, you can go into a club and not really be dressed. You can’t do that in Vegas.”

Of course, Vegas has climbed to the top with increasingly lavish and expensive properties. Will the city be able to maintain such a costly trajectory? Well, all those champagne bubbles aren’t ready to burst just yet.

“It’s definitely gone upscale,” Crecca notes. “The opening of XS last year, that just totally raised the bar on luxury night life. To me, that was a game changer. It definitely solidified Vegas and that whole upper echelon as the thing that you strive for.”

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.

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