Memorial Day weekend kicked off with coincidental birthday celebrations for two-time Dancing With the Stars champions Cheryl Burke and Mark Ballas at Tao Beach in The Venetian. Cheryl turned 26 this month but had to delay her birthday party because the hit show’s Season 10 was still in progress.
She was thrilled to see that her birthday cake had been modeled after the trophy from the top-rated ABC show. Cheryl was joined by friends in a cabana, including fellow dance pro Mark, celebrating his 24th birthday, with his girlfriend, original Pussycat Dolls singer Ashley Roberts. Mark’s dad, Corky, even stopped by to hang in the cabana as the group snacked on sushi and sipped specialty cocktails.
The two dance pros toasted to getting a break from work but still showed off their moves. Cheryl went to the DJ booth to get on the mic to thank the crowd for helping her celebrate her birthday. Photographer Denise Truscello was there for the fun photos, while contributing photographer Scott Harrison hit the red carpet.
Seen at Tao’s Worship Thursday were Washington Redskins' Larry Johnson and Clinton Portis and Joe Johnson of the Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls’ Luol Deng.
ENCORE BEACH CLUB & SURRENDER
“Only Steve Wynn could build something like this,” Sean Christie, managing partner of Encore Beach Club and Surrender nightclub, told me hours into opening day. Several times yesterday, Steve himself stepped from his office to check on the new $70 million facility -- and even welcomed comedy prop king Carrot Top to check out the sun palace of hedonism.
Sean told me that Steve and VP of Design Roger Thomas had spent time each day this past week checking on everything to ensure perfection. “He even got on the phone personally with the manufacturer of the nightclub’s sliding doors to change them three days before the opening -- and had them delivered and installed. He has a real eye for perfection and knows how everything works.”
Just 24 hours before yesterday’s incredibly successful opening, landscape workers embedded palm trees, plants and flowers at the trio of pools. Steve’s executives released these first-day Russell MacMasters photos to Vegas DeLuxe.
We posted coverage yesterday in advance of the opening. The 60,000-square-foot Encore Beach Club features a lush oasis with three tiered pools, daybeds with private safes and 26 cabanas outfitted with refrigerators and flat-screen televisions. Eight bungalows span across two stories offering views of The Strip. The bungalows include hot tubs, showers, lavish furnishings and temperature-control systems.
Our spywitness reported: “Enjoying the afternoon in one of the 350-square-foot bungalows was Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, while linebackers Terrell Suggs of the Baltimore Ravens and Nick Barnett from the Green Bay Packers took over another cabana. Local headliner Carrot Top walked the venue and posed for photos with fans before enjoying a snack at the new Encore Beach Club Grill patio.
“The party continued last night with the opening of the conjoined Surrender nightclub. Clubgoers crowded the DJ booth to hear the electro house tunes of Steve Aoki, who took over the outdoor turntables at 1 a.m. for his weekly residency at Aoki’s House. The ‘In Da House’ artist hopped on top of the DJ booth mid-set and doused the energetic audience with champagne. Brian Urlacher returned to the newest Las Vegas hotspot and this time took over one of Surrender’s indoor VIP booths.”
The DJ and the partygoers kept the revelry going until 6 a.m.
Incredibly, Sean predicted to me that hundreds of new partygoers would start lining up at 8 this morning, so he decided on a 10 a.m. opening for today and tomorrow.
Soul-singing superstar and hometown hero Ne-Yo is tonight’s second grand-opening entertainer, and we’ll post photos here at Vegas DeLuxe tomorrow. Before his performance, though, the Grammy winner checked out EBC during the day, as did Paris Hilton.
41ST ANNUAL WORLD SERIES OF POKER
Yesterday also kicked off the 58 bracelet games of the new 41st World Series of Poker at The Rio. WSOP champion Doyle Brunson hosted the most expensive first day of play tournament, with a $50,000 buy-in Players Championship.
We posted coverage Thursday in advance of the first round of play. Defending champion Joe Cada hosts the Shuffle Up and Deal event today, which is expected to attract thousands of players.
Las Vegas News Bureau photographer Darrin Bush was on hand for the start of play with Doyle. Play continues through July 17, when the final table of the November Nine champions will be decided.
HARD ROCK HOTEL
It also was a big night of Memorial Day weekend partying at the Hard Rock Hotel. Our spywitness reported from early this morning:
“Angels & Airwaves band members David Kennedy (guitarist), Atom Willard (drummer) and Matt Wachter (bassist) relaxed in a VIP booth at Carey Hart’s Wasted Space after their performance in The Joint. Over Skyy vodka and Jack Daniels, they watched resident drummer and DJ duo 51/Fifty perform.
“Nearby, Vanity also was hopping well into this morning’s early hours with NFL players all night long, plus an appearance by Jersey Shore’s infamous DJ. Pauly D stayed for a short while before heading over with his entourage to the hotel's Rare 120 to meet Vanity resident DJ Eric D-Lux and toast the holiday with shots.
“Newly single after his breakup with Kim Kardashian, running back Reggie Bush and his New Orleans Saints teammate Bobby McCray made late appearances on the dance floor to get their groove on. Chris Johnson, running back for the Tennessee Titans; LenDale White, former running back for the Tennessee Titans; and Nick Collins, free safety for the Green Bay Packers; didn’t hold back, either. They had a troop of 30 friends, ordering bottles throughout the night. Contributing photographer Hew Burney was onsite for the action.
“Other sports figures at play in the hotspot were Andre Johnson, wide receiver for the Houston Texans; Jamal Williams, defensive tackle for the Denver Broncos; Jonathan Polynice Vilma, linebacker for the New Orleans Saints; Michael Huff, free safety for the Oakland Raiders; Antrel Rolle, safety for the New York Giants; plus Aida Menasaka from Tool Academy, who hung out in the DJ booth.”
Finally today, in our first day of Memorial Day holiday coverage, our photo gallery from contributing photographer Scott Harrison, who was front row center to capture the excitement of Rusted Root poolside at the Hard Rock Hotel.
Check back with Vegas DeLuxe for continuing coverage of the highlights of the Memorial Day weekend’s four days of excitement.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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