Work hard, party harder: Judging the Nightclub & Bar Awards

Paul van Dyk performs during Love Festival at the Palms over Memorial Day Weekend, 2009. The event received a finalist nod in the 2010 Nightclub & Bar Awards.
Photo: Richard Brian

Go Vegas! Our world-class clubs have made the finals in each of the six nightclub categories for the 2010 Nightclub & Bar Awards. Celebrating 25 years of Nightclub & Bar magazine, these awards are an update of the publication’s previous honors.

“We really wanted an awards program that reflects the entire industry,” says Donna Hood Crecca, Nightclub & Bar’s editorial director.

Previously called the Five Star Awards, the honors used to be selected by the magazine’s staff. The new approach taps magazine contributors and industry insiders as judges and expands upon the awards themselves, acknowledging industry leading venues in their respective categories. “You can’t have a major club competing with a bar,” Crecca says. The two distinctly different venue types are now split.

“The judges are media people who write about clubs, bars, restaurants, as well as some consultants, if they’re not involved in specific categories,” Crecca says.

As far as the entrants, venues could either submit themselves for a category, or were nominated by admirers, nightlife industry experts and even some suppliers.

“It’s a compliment to get a business partner’s nomination,” Crecca adds.

The majority of the nominations came from major nightlife markets such as New York City, Los Angeles and, of course, Las Vegas. Judges were assigned specific categories related to their area of expertise.

“I can’t ask someone to evaluate a category if they don’t follow it,” Crecca says. “We’re working with people who follow that segment of the industry.”

Of the 20 judges, yours truly was asked — and honored — to participate on the judging panel, as were a few other Las Vegans such as UNLV nightlife professor (and Nightclub & Bar contributor) Bryan Bass, Robin Leach of sister site VegasDeluxe and Robert Casillas with the Monsoon Group.

Submissions from around the country were evaluated and 260 entries had to be sifted through. “It exceeded our expectations,” Crecca says. The most entered categories were “Megaclub” and “New Club of the Year.”

Judges in each category ranked their top three favorites, and the entrants were narrowed down to four or five finalists (listed below). Before you assume judges only chose venues from their city, I didn’t always opt for Vegas places — though I can only speak for myself. Of course, I’m not going to tell you which categories I judged.

The winners will be announced in early February, profiled in Nightclub & Bar’s March issue and honored, along with the other finalists, March 10 at Lavo in conjuncture with the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show.

“Some of the best clubs in the nation are in Vegas,” Crecca says of holding the convention in Sin City. “It has reputation for being a place to have a great time.”

Nightclub & Bar awards finalists (in alphabetical order):

Nightclub Categories

The pool in XS nightclub at the Encore.

The pool in XS nightclub at the Encore.

Mega-Club of the Year

Pacha NYC, New York

Rain, Las Vegas

Stingaree, San Diego

XS, Las Vegas

New Club of the Year

Infusion Lounge, San Francisco

Tryst in the Wynn.

Playhouse Hollywood, Los Angeles

Voyeur, West Hollywood

XS, Las Vegas

Nightclub of the Year

The Avalon Hollywood, Los Angeles

Lavo in the Palazzo.

Lavo, Las Vegas

Opera, Atlanta

Tao, Las Vegas

Tryst, Las Vegas

Ongoing Promotion of the Year

Pacha NYC, New York – Toolroom Knights

Rain, Las Vegas - Paul Oakenfold's Perfecto Vegas

Paul Oakenfold at Rain for Perfecto.

Hard Rock, Las Vegas – Rehab

Tao, Las Vegas – Worship Thursdays

Resident DJ

Danny Tenaglia – Pacha NYC, New York

Paul Oakenfold – Rain, Las Vegas

Roonie G – Opera, Atlanta

Z-Trip – Rain, Las Vegas

Single Promotion of the Year

Z-Trip spins at Rain in the Palms.

Z-Trip spins at Rain in the Palms.

Four-Year Anniversary – Tao, Las Vegas

Love Festival – Palms, Las Vegas

Midsummer Night’s Dream – Palms, Las Vegas

The Young & The Restless – Opera, Atlanta

Ultra-Lounge of the Year

32° Degrees Lux Lounge, Philadelphia

Blush Boutique Lounge, Las Vegas

Halo, Atlanta

Pink Monkey, Chicago

Bar Category Finalists

Bartender of the Year

Charles Joly – The Drawing Room, Chicago

Columbine Quillen -- The Blacksmith Restaurant, Bar, and Lounge, Bend, Ore.

H. Joseph Ehrmann – Elixir, San Francisco

Russell Davis – Peche, Austin

Frankie's Tiki Room.

Beer Bar of the Year

Eulogy Belgian Tavern, Philadelphia

Gritty McDuff’s, Portland, Maine

Tapwerks Ale House & Café, Oklahoma City

Willimantic Brewing Company, Willimantic, Conn.

Cocktail Lounge of the Year

675 Bar, New York

The Drawing Room, Chicago

Frankie’s Tiki Room, Las Vegas

The Naga Cocktail Lounge, Bellevue, Wash.

Blondies Sports Bar & Grill

Blondies Sports Bar & Grill

Hotel Bar

207, Hard Rock Hotel, San Diego

BOND Restaurant & Lounge, The Langham, Boston

Hudson Bar, Hudson Hotel, New York

POV, W Hotel, Washington, DC

Small Wonder Bar of the Year

The Empty Glass, Charleston, West Virginia

In Between, Honolulu

Manifesto, Kansas City

Qua Bottle Lounge, Austin

Sports Bar of the Year

Blondie’s Sports Bar & Grill, Las Vegas

Champion Billiards Sports Café, Frederick, Maryland

Connolly’s Sports Bar & Grill, Royal Palm Beach, Florida

Jerome Bettis Grill 36, Pittsburgh

Wine Bar of the Year

Ivy Ultra Lounge and Wine Bar, San Diego

Flute Midtown, New York

Mercy Wine Bar, Dallas

Zebra’s Bistro & Wine Bar, Medfield, Massachusetts

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