It’s not easy being the king. Lately the Las Vegas club scene, which boasts 15 of the top 25 grossing nightclubs in the U.S., has been the preferred target of bloggers and media types. If it’s not being castigated for its overpaid EDM DJs or enabling clubbers to carry on like drunken primates, it’s the new scapegoat for conditional door policies.
People are still weighing in on the July 16 Jezebel story involving “Zoe,” whose prospective Hakkasan promoter, Peter—who has since been suspended by the club—refused to comp her bachelorette party of 15 unless she surrendered every girl’s photo or Instagram account. (She didn’t, and went elsewhere.) You can imagine the comments that followed the story, and the broad brush with which they painted Vegas nightlife. Some needed perspective:
Many have been quick to compare the transgression to the infamous velvet-rope policies established by New York City’s Studio 54, where the doorman’s once-over usually meant granting the pretty and the rich entrance and dismissing everyone else. But that’s not how Las Vegas clubs work. Unlike certain hotspots in New York, Miami and LA, anyone can pay a venue’s cover and get in here (to say nothing of presale tickets). And women often get expedited, if not free entry via a separate line. Good luck accomplishing the same thing at AV Nightclub in Hollywood or LIV in Miami.
Those out-of-state spots take superficiality to new heights—as would Hakkasan (or any other club, for that matter) if it, in fact, has mandated a photo policy with female group comps, as Peter’s texts to Zoe suggest. But let’s drop the pretense that there isn’t an institutionalized—and highly profitable—caste system at major nightclubs. They are inextricably attached to sex and money, and as long as people go there and spend billions of the latter to find the former, clubs will show deference to gorgeous women and wealthy men, and continue to enable nightlife’s version of natural selection. Why aren’t there more blogs on the shenanigans happening at fraternities?
Peter shouldn’t be let off the hook. He’s a pig, and I can’t quibble with shaming him. But he’s not representative of the entire nightlife community. Frankly, I find most promoters and VIP hosts are professional and courteous—and I’m no bottle customer. But of course, that doesn’t fit into the archetype of those always sharpening their knives. “Clubs are, as a general rule, terrible, noisy places full of superficial garbage,” writes Jezebel’s Erin Gloria Ryan. Well, so are amusement parks, shopping malls and websites that feign outrage in the name of clickbait.