At a little after 1 a.m. on the first day of a new year in a new decade, dozens of celebrants walked — OK, some stumbled — down Harmon Avenue near Las Vegas Boulevard. The smoke from the fireworks had long cleared and the massive street party on the Strip was winding down.
The same could not be said about Krave Nightclub. As many of the estimated 315,000 on the Strip headed for cars, cabs or free rides on CAT busses, there was still a line in front of the Strip's only gay bar.
At midnight, just over a thousand patrons were inside, toasting Champagne, kissing and dancing; General Manager Michael Palmer estimated that the night's numbers peaked at 1,200 to 1,400 a few hours into 2010.
"A lot of people go to the Strip and see the fireworks, then come here," Palmer explained. Krave planned to stay open until 6 a.m. on New Year's Day.
One such attendee was former 'N Sync member Lance Bass, who participated in a countdown at Planet Hollywood's Privé nightclub before taking a group of friends to Krave. According to Palmer, the now-openly gay celebrity was a regular at the club even before he revealed his sexual orientation in June 2006.
For Kyle Emerick, Krave's New Year's Eve celebration was his first venture into a gay club. The Long Beach, Calif., resident said he loved the atmosphere.
His friend James Van Buren agreed, saying that he's visited plenty of clubs since turning 21 in June and found Krave to have the most welcoming and positive crowd.
The Las Vegas native grinned and added, "Gay people know what the fuck is going on!"
Palmer stresses that, though classified as catering to gays, the bar is open to patrons of any sexuality, as long as they're welcoming of others. "You can dance with girls or boys or both. You can be whoever you want to be. Nobody cares about sexuality."
Few might appreciate that better than one guest on New Year's Eve, who admitted he was gay and a member of the armed services. The man, who asked that his name be withheld, said that the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy didn't bother him.
"I separate my work and personal life," he said, adding with a laugh, "and I'm not really good with boyfriends, anyway."
During Krave's New Year's celebration, the man found a common meeting ground for his friends, who'd agreed to congregate in Las Vegas from their respective cities, as well as plenty of entertainment.
After illness forced Mini Lady Gaga to cancel her scheduled performance, a regular-sized impersonator of the pop icon was found to replace her. Derrick Barry, best known for impersonating Britney Spears in Divas at Imperial Palace and on America's Got Talent, performed "Bad Romance" for the crowd before leading the club's countdown.
After telling the crowd of "little monsters" about his experience meeting the real Lady Gaga, Barry reiterated what his fellow attendees had said all night about Krave as a nightclub. "We should be so grateful we have a place to go to express ourselves."