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Velvet Lion to take on the “Vegas Gouge,” calls for unity

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Velvet Lion’s body-painted go-go dancing “kitties.” Velvet Lion soft opens December 19th at 6:00pm.

In an open letter e-mailed November 30 to every nightclub operator in town, according to operations manager Adam Gould, the Velvet Lion gentlemen’s club stated its purpose in a memo intended for its promotions/hosting staff, a memo meant to right a grievous wrong imposed one too many times on the nightlife industry by the nightlife industry—lousy tipping.

As a means of ensuring that, when Velvet Lion’s VIP hosts and promotions team go on outreach—that is, go to other clubs to show support, as is the modern industry standard—they will essentially throw money in a hat before the drinking begins, thus avoiding the all too prevalent scenario where a cocktail server or bartending team is stiffed by their own.

Velvet Lion logo.

Gould is displeased with the state of the nightlife industry and where it’s heading, and as the operations manager of a gentlemen’s club poised to soft-open on December 19, Gould says he’s tired of the so-called “Vegas gouge,” citing today’s outrageous door charges, exorbitant table bounties, astronomical bottle prices and auto-gratuities. “We’re in a recession,” he reminds us. “Vegas tourism is falling off,” and though the clubs won’t admit it, “it takes support to get support.”

That’s where outreach comes in, with one hand washing the other, or in this case, one club supporting another. But “it started really blowing up in people’s faces.” Buy-one-get-one incentives from club to club have turned into buy-two-get-twos, and Gould reports undercutting to steal clients. “There’s no respect left. I said, you know what? I’m tired of this. Opening a new venue, I want to support everyone and have everyone support us.” Working in nightclubs since prior to the existence of bottle service and VIP booth sales, Gould remembers fondly when “it was all about going out and hanging out with your homies and having a good time. That time is lost.”

Rather than bemoan the issue and watch it worsen, Gould and Velvet Lion creator Tony Verdugo instead plan to call together a roundtable of nightclub owners and operators, the agenda being to stop undercutting, set a standard for bottle prices, organize, cooperate, set realistic values for real estate and put an end to the feuds that have resulted in some clubs’ staffers being banned from other clubs. Says Gould, “It’s not to call anybodyout, it’s just to get the city back to where it used to be. It’s a call for unity. Let’s bring back what it used to be.”

Of the gauntlet thrown down on November 30, Gould said in his e-mail, “This is something that was put together based on greedy people using ‘being drunk’ as an excuse and a reason as to why a hard-working employee is now disgruntled. No matter what company any of us work for, this is a situation that happens on a regular basis ... Unfortunately. That is why we at Velvet Lion have decided to step up and implement this for everyone. Hopefully everyone agrees …

“We at Velvet Lion want to bring tourism back to Las Vegas as a whole,” he continued in the e-mail. “We welcome each and every person in the Vegas nightlife with open arms and full-blown club courtesy. We want to work together with each and every one of you selling a product to the world known as Las Vegas. All of the feeder markets to Las Vegas are tired of getting gouged. We are in a recession, and we need to come together as a unit and make sure that tourism rises in ’09 and doesn’t decline as it did in ’08.”

Gould and Verdugo’s open letter to the nightlife community:

Velvet Lion Outreach Program

Outreach is a mandatory program that is known city wide as one of the most effective marketing tools available. This is a system which is proven effective by every single club in the Vegas Valley. It is a tool which not only drives business through our front doors, it allows everyone to become a face in the nightlife scene.

Vegas nightlife staff works on tips. Anytime that you are required to go out on our outreach program, you are required to put $20.00 in the pot in the beginning of the evening which will go to the waitresses that will be serving you. Thus, in turn, they will be doing the same thing for you. When they come to our venue, they will know to tip you just the same. This is how we are going to change the game, by Velvet Lion being known as great tippers to every VIP host, cocktail server, bartender, barback and busser…. We are going to set the standard to others who walk through our front doors, automatically they know to do the right thing.

Change of Epic proportions

Consider another hat to have been thrown into the afterhours ring. The former Club Rox live-music venue (Hidden Secrets strip club prior) at 5285 Dean Martin Drive has undergone a quiet-yet-speedy renovation this month. Almost completely slipping under the radar, Epic Nightclub will celebrate its grand opening this Friday.

According to Chuck Pless, co-owner of Vegas VIP1 and the talent agent supplying the DJs to Epic, the inside of the former Rox has been gutted, the stage removed, and new paint and a wood dance floor have been added. Most importantly, the subpar sound system has been scrapped for a 12,000-watt upgrade. Epic has moved the DJ booth upstairs to preside over the venue, and there’s new lighting as well.

Pless says the afterhours music format will be catered toward a local market, with electro, progressive and commercial house to begin the evening, then switching to high-energy trance and dance. Epic will be open Fridays and Saturdays starting at 2 a.m. and on Wednesdays at 3 a.m. Separate prime-time events will also be planned on some nights catering to the college crowd. For more information, visit Epiclv.com

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