Las Vegas is the dominion of night. Pretty much every important thing that’s ever happened here has transpired after sunset. That’s not to say that, on occasion, history hasn’t been made in our Valley by the light of afternoon, but c’mon. Vegas was purpose-built to do its best work in the dark, and generally speaking, that’s how we do it.
When visitors think of Vegas, they picture clubs, casinos, bars and restaurants that never shut down—and yeah, we’ve got those in ever-increasing numbers. But they don’t give much thought to the city that keeps that engine running. They don’t think of the employees who sleep during the day to work all-night jobs. And they don’t think of where those employees go after their shifts are done—to all-night supermarkets; to neighborhood bars that have never once locked their doors; perhaps even to other jobs, maybe stocking a sales floor or fielding customer complaints at a call center. They can’t imagine a city that truly doesn’t sleep.
But we know what that means. The small hours of the morning are in our blood. And even if we don’t work a graveyard shift, we respect the ones who do—and every so often, we benefit from the 24-hour culture that supports them. We know that if we get hungry after midnight, there are a bunch of places we can eat; that if we’re struck with insomnia, that there’s always something to do somewhere. 3 a.m. might mean lights out in LA and New York City, but here, it means a third happy hour, or that it’s time to make the proverbial donuts.
The Weekly recently sent photographers out into the city at 3 a.m., to locations both tourist-facing and local. Here’s what they saw at the tolling of the hour.
Following in the late-night tradition of many weekend warriors, patrons stand in line for an early-morning bite on February 25 at Cheffini’s Hot Dog stand, a Fremont Street staple.
Benson Abisai of Kenya runs the Rebel Mini Mart across from UNLV at the corner of Maryland Parkway and Harmon Avenue. He works the 2-8 a.m. shift, bouncing back and forth between the store and attached laundromat, where someone sat charging a cellphone.
Groove before dawn
Patrons gather at Drai’s After Hours at the Cromwell on a recent Monday morning to hear DJ Direct and DJ ShadowRed. Drai’s is a hot spot for late, late-night patrons who aren’t ready to go home after clubs close on the Strip. The venue packed in even more people around 4 a.m.
A kiss by 6th
A couple stands isolated in the cold, early-morning hours on February 25 outside Eureka! on Fremont East. Nearby, noisy crowds gather at Beauty Bar, which caters to crowds until 4 a.m.
Left out in the cold
A homeless person sits alone under a blanket near Catholic Charities, at the corner of Foremaster Lane and Las Vegas Boulevard. Hundreds of other homeless huddled in a group nearby.
Twerking around the clock
A woman receives a $20 lap dance from a cowboy busker near the Fremont Street Experience. Despite the 38-degree temperatures, the cowboy stayed shirtless late into the night.
Cab driver Medina, who declined to disclose her last name, covers her face to stay warm while she waits in line for fares in front of the Plaza. Individuals wander the street nearby as the area starts to empty.
That's a wrap
Dark Funeral and Septicflesh, metal bands from Sweden and Greece, respectively, load their travel trailer following a late show at Beauty Bar. Las Vegas was the third stop on their U.S. tour, which completely sold out.
A break in the bustle
Las Vegas Metro police are parked on the Strip outside Planet Hollywood on February 26. The emptiness of the night gave officers an opportunity to clean out the insides of their cruisers.
Kassidie Belmont, 21, a computer science major at College of Southern Nevada, works the night shift at Gorilla Cafe, a 24-hour LAN center and billiards hall near UNLV where people gather to take part in multiplayer video games. There are multiple centers throughout the city.
Supply and demand
Mike Hume restocks freezers at the Vons grocery story on Maryland Parkway and Twain Avenue on February 27. Half a dozen workers replenished shelves while an equal number of shoppers hunted for groceries.
For more photos from this shoot, click here