In 1930, Frank Detra took a chance and opened Pair O’ Dice, Las Vegas’ first nightclub. Located on what was then known as the new highway to Los Angeles (today, we call it the Las Vegas Strip), the club was open only at night. In addition to bands and jazz performers, the Pair O’ Dice served Italian food. Most notably, the establishment had a history of closing and re-opening because it sported gaming tables before the city had legalized gaming and served alcohol during Prohibition.
Nine years later, the Pair O’ Dice was sold to police captain and commander of the vice squad Guy McAfee, who renamed it the 91 Club.
A lot has changed since then. From elaborately themed nightclubs that stay open until dawn to the new wave of trendy, ultrachic lounges sweeping the Strip, visitors know when they step out in Las Vegas for the night, it will be an experience they won’t forget. Here are some of the hottest places to be for extraordinary nightlife:
* At XS, the new nightclub at Encore, after-dark impressario Victor Drai combines an outdoor pool environment with the sizzling club atmosphere. Destined to be the gold standard in Vegas nightlife, the club’s design is inspired by the sexy curves of the human body and embraces the European pool and island bar it envelopes. The dance floor at XS is highlighted by a 10-foot rotating chandelier.
* Pure Management Group and famed fashion designer Christian Audigier have teamed up to create a new nightclub on the Strip called Christian Audigier The Nightclub at Treasure Island. The nightclub has opened in the space formerly occupied by Tangerine. The rock ‘n’ roll, glam-inspired style is evident throughout the nightclub including roses, skulls, gleaming crystals and black glass chandeliers.
* Harrah’s Operating Co., a subsidiary of Harrah’s Entertainment, and Microsoft Corp. have debuted Harrah’s first Microsoft Surface deployment at iBar ultra-lounge located inside the Rio. Microsoft Surface is the first commercially available surface computer with a 30-inch tablelike display that enables individuals to interact with digital content by using touch.
* The Hard Rock Hotel has opened the rock lounge Wasted Space as part of its $800 million expansion and renovation. Co-owned and created by action sports superstar Carey Hart and Yankees baseball player Jason Giambi, Wasted Space represents the ultimate depiction of the decadent rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, also known as an “anti-club.”
* One of L.A.’s hottest nightclubs lights up Luxor with star power courtesy of celebrity investors DJ AM and Christina Aguilera. From the creators of Pure Nightclub, LAX Las Vegas combines the best of its Los Angeles namesake with the energy and excitement that only Pure Management Group can create. Catering to a sophisticated Hollywood crowd, LAX is a “see and be seen” place for club-goers, A-list celebrities and the social jet set.
* The newest nightlife venue at Wynn Las Vegas is Blush, a boutique nightclub impeccably decorated and offering a casual-chic atmosphere beginning at 9 p.m. nightly. Blush features a lighted onyx dance floor and cream-colored lantern ceiling sculpture in an intimate 4,500-square foot space.
* eyecandy sound lounge & bar is located at the center of Mandalay Bay’s casino floor, and features interactive touch tables, revolutionary iPod sound stations which, on promotional nights, allow guests the chance to hear their personal music mixes integrated into the lounge’s repertoire. Instead of traditional bottle service, eyecandy features tables that can be purchased by the hour, where guests can drink their choice of libations throughout the evening.
* The Light Group, which redefined the Las Vegas nightlife landscape when it opened Light Nightclub at Bellagio six years ago, has remodeled the space into a revolutionary nightlife concept named The Bank. The Bank transforms the Las Vegas nightclub experience by offering a one-of-a-kind atmosphere and catering to a discerning audience with highly refined sensibilities.
* The Opium Group brings its signature brand of South Beach style to Las Vegas with Miami’s chicest hotspot, Privé, and the legendary Living Room now open at Planet Hollywood. Featuring 12,000 square feet of luxuriously appointed design elements created by renowned designer Francois Frossard, Privé mixes the ethereal whimsy of South Beach with dramatic elements that are quintessentially Vegas. The 3,000-square-foot Living Room offers a modern twist on the cozy cigar lounges of the 1940’s, featuring cushy cognac leather sofas, luxurious burgundy drapery and a grand granite bar.
* Poetry replaced OPM inside the Forum Shops at Caesars, upstairs from Wolfgang Puck’s Chinois restaurant. The club features urban pop art, black chandeliers and a playlist leaning toward hip-hop and R&B.
* Rouge is the new upscale lounge at MGM Grand. The lounge showcases deep reds and black contemporary design. The bar’s centerpiece is the Adam Tihany-designed backlit projection wall of glass bottles that flicker throughout the night. Rouge is in the space formerly occupied by Teatro.
* Downtown Las Vegas is quickly gaining popularity as one of the newest hotspots in Las Vegas. Gold Diggers, the newest nightlife experience at the Golden Nugget, is a state-of-the-art entertainment venue boasting a large dance floor bordered by bartenders serving up enticing libations in a fun-filled atmosphere. Just steps away from the party, the nightspot opens to a 180-degree, oversized balcony providing stunning views of Fremont Street Experience.
Located in the heart of downtown, 3rd Street is a dining and entertainment district, featuring some of the most well known hotspots in nightlife. New York’s famous Hogs & Heifers opened with its unique brand of entertainment where bartenders wear halter tops and leather pants and are armed with megaphones to keep the mood as raucous as possible. Next door, Triple George Grill features not only great food, but also a classic lounge where patrons can relax in oversized leather armchairs, smoke cigars and banter with the pianist. Next to Triple George is Celebrity Nightclub, which features live music regularly, and Sidebar, an intimate bar specializing in classic cocktails.
Nearby, on Fremont Street East, Beauty Bar offers patrons a nail polish with their cocktail amidst décor taken straight out of an old New Jersey beauty parlor. Next door is, The Griffin, a new tavern with a movie-set feel, vaulted ceilings and two fire pits, Just around the corner, locals discover a cozy, sophisticated lounge called the Downtown Cocktail Room, serving signature martinis in a classy atmosphere.
* Away from the casinos, Las Vegas locals unwind at unique watering holes like the quirky Artisan or deliberately dive-y Champagne’s Café. For a truly unique experience, the Double Down Saloon is a neighborhood bar where anything goes. Vivid chaotic and psychedelic murals cover every inch of the walls and ceiling, while disturbing videos come from all directions. Another neighborhood bar, Frankie’s Tiki Room features a unique combination of south seas exotica and modern primitivism, with just a hint of Las Vegas kitsch.
* Town Square Las Vegas, an open-air shopping, dining and entertainment destination located on the south end of Las Vegas Boulevard, offers a variety of nighttime venues, including Yard House, Blue Martini, Grape, Bar Louie and Cadillac Ranch.