It’s not enough that the clubs are telling us where to be each night of the week; now they’re telling us what to celebrate, what to wear, what and whom to bring. Getting a little pushy, aren’t they? But understanding the many species of parties is essential to arriving prepared to party and, most importantly, not showing up at a celeb-studded red-carpet grand opening gussied up for a “Golf Pros and Tennis Hos”-themed party. (Not that this ever happened to one of us …)
Boiled down to their basest elements, most Vegas parties will fall into one or more of the following categories.
Ladies’ call: Female-focused parties
G-Spot. No, not that … gifting! You might be thinking it’s kindness, but really it’s just product placement. Gifting (as seen in the posh celeb gifting suites at Sundance, the Oscars, the Teen Choice Awards, etc.) is all about getting the right product into the right hands at precisely the right time. Perfect examples: Indulge Fridays at Body English, Blush Beauties Fridays at Blush, Lush Fridays at CatHouse, Fridays at The Bank ... sensing a theme? The trick to getting tricked out with this Friday’s celebrity swag is showing up early, making it known that you are a local (if you are), making it known that you have breasts (if you do) and sweet-talking whomever is clearly in charge of the goodies.
Vegas: The Booby Trap. Maybe you didn’t think you needed them until you moved to Sin City. Or until you tried to get swag at one of the aforementioned parties. But apparently boobs are where it’s at! While good ones are not cheap, some of the best hands in the bosom biz are right here in Vegas. The clubs want you to have them, so why not let them pay for your liquid assets?! To score a prized pair most often entails a beauty contest, but sometimes it’s a popularity contest, a pity party, a charity event (“Cans for cans!”) or a trick-or-treat situation, as outlined below.
Trick-or-Treat! Hey ladies, wondering what the entertainment will be tonight? Why, it’s you! Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to collect the most funny money/Mardi Gras beads/communicable diseases from the bottle-buying patrons of the club (mostly men, mostly expecting something in return). In the end, the woman who amasses the most stuff wins—usually either cosmetic surgery, jewelry or $5,000 in “cash and prizes.” Never having won either, the Weekly is unapologetically skeptical.
Domestics: Industry-driven parties
Playing Dress-up. Remember in Bridget Jones’s Diary when Renee Zellweger shows up at a garden party dressed like a Playboy Bunny? Themed parties are pretty much along those lines, only instead of a smarmy uncle pinching your butt, it will be the many smarmy bottle patrons. Favorite dress-up themes among the locals include schoolgirls, togas, pirates, girls in athletic wear, anything “naughty” and decades past. You might wish to just open up a tab at Star Costume.
Sweet Charity. It’s the thought that counts, right? Good thing, because when nightclubs and charitable organizations combine forces, the results are often both heartwarming and hilarious. From the very successful coat and shoe drives this past winter at Poetry to the more outrageous Toys for Ta-Tas at McFadden’s to Tryst’s $32,000 shopping spree for KLUC 98.5-FM’s annual charity toy drive, you’d better believe that beneath nightlife’s silicone and douche-bling, there beats the heart of a philanthropist.
The Local’s Birthday. The over-25 set likes to frame this as the “Xth anniversary” of their 21st birthday, so as to force you to do math in order to come up with an actual age. True, you may not recognize the name or face on the invite, but you can pretty much assume he or she is hot, powerful and connected. Either way, you’ll want to clear your schedule and buy the birthday boy or girl a shot.
Posse Round-up. It’s simple—bring the most people in your entourage and you win! Prizes have included trips to Lake Tahoe, Winter Music Conference in Miami and valuable Staycations. What is a Staycation, you ask?
Staycation. Aimed at keeping locals on property and on display for as long as possible, the Staycation pairs a party with a hotel room and other on-site amenities like pools, restaurants, lounges and shopping. The best in the biz are Red Rock Retreat, Dorm Days at the Hard Rock, The Big Sleepover at the Palms and Light Group’s super Monday, teaming up Bare, Stack, Jet and now Revolution.
The Kick-off. When promoters need an instant party, the easiest solution is a kick-off. Just about anything can be kicked-off in Vegas: AVN week, Fashion Week, Super Bowl weekend, New Year’s Eve, Halloween, any long weekend, spring break. As of January 1, even the full moon gets its own monthly welcome party, courtesy of Spundae and Voodoo Lounge.
Awards. When the goal is critical mass, nothing delivers like a good awards party; nothing inspires as much camaraderie, and nothing so well feeds the ego. Women of the Night, 30 Under 30, 9 to 5, Media Circus, The Socialite Holiday Party, The B.R.O. Awards, The Nighties … Clubs make a list of all the people they want or need at the party and then print the names on the flier or ad, thereby all but guaranteeing the honorees will attend. All that’s left to do is light the sparklers, pop the champagne and wait until 2 a.m. to hand out the trophy/plaque/swag bag/certificate.
Contests. Second only to awards parties for bringing out local star power in droves. While 2008 saw spates of beer-pong, go-go, pole-dancing and girl-on-girl kissing contests, so far 2009 seems to be the year of the hottest-server competition. Prizes typically hover around $5,000 (the average budget for an industry-night party), though it’s not unusual to see $10,000, $15,000 and even $25,000 prizes, which may be given to one person, divvied up among multiple winners or literally dropped onto the crowd!
Pole Position. A subset of nightclub contest so strong it gets a category unto itself. Go-go contests offer a rare glimpse of what happens when girl meets furry boots, while pole-antics competitions let the most skilled pole-dancers scoff at gravity while keeping their tops on. Tao-a-Go-Go and Pole-a-Palooza have repeatedly set the bar high, though a new entrant, Christian Audigier, this year brought us Save a Pole, Ride a Cowboy.
Auditions. Whether mass-hiring for the pool season, recruiting for a reality-TV show or Bunny-hunting at the Playboy Club, auditions do wonders for a party’s hot-chick quotient. Beware: While some are legit, many are ploys, usually indicated by a complete lack of information, such as “talent scout on-hand” or “looking for fresh faces.” Likely, the so-called scout is a low-level marketing drone charged with getting a company’s name on a party flier for publicity or a celeb host, neither of whom has any hiring ability whatsoever. Unless you are told to fill out an application ahead of time or bring a head shot, resume or Zed card, expect just to party.
Imports: Tourist-driven parties
It’s Official. In fact, everything’s official: the official afterparty for … the official pre-party of … so-and-so’s official after-fight party, pre-fight party, after-concert party. Though officious-sounding enough, “official” really only means that a party is endorsed. So an AVN-week party is only official when AVN signs off on it and gives the club use of its logo. Buuuuut, a porn star can throw her “official AVN afterparty” herself, meaning that it’s the party she endorses. Tricky, very tricky …
Opening. Why throw one party when you can throw four?! Let’s start with the obvious: the media party, in which thrifty, thirsty members of the local media corps fall upon a new venue like so many scavengers. Next comes the soft-opening to the public, which is a general ramp-up until the red-carpet celebrity opening. The process is finally capped off with the debut of the club’s weekly industry-night party. Then, when a party withers, it is periodically replaced with a new weekly event, and the cycle continues until the club closes and reopens either under new management or with a new name. Face it: It’s the circle of (night) life.
Catch a Release. Album, book, movie, single, DVD, magazine issue, calendar, reality-show debut, clothing line, leggings (if you’re Lindsey Lohan) … we’ll take ’em all! But be forewarned: Even though ads may tout, say, “Madonna’s album-release party,” don’t think Madge will actually be anywhere within earshot. Unless it is specifically stated that the artist is hosting, this scheme usually just means that the song or songs might be played a few times and that bottle patrons will get a copy of the album, book, movie, single …
Guest DJ. The guest DJ is almost a default setting for clubs. Hell, they could be Vegas born ’n’ raised, but as long as they’re visiting from some other club in town, they wear the honorific status of “guest.” Odder still is the actor, singer or porn star-turned-DJ. Such spectacles have thrown Tera Patrick, Kid Rock, Benji Madden and Efren “Vote for Pedro” Ramirez behind our esteemed wheels of steel. “Faux DJ! Faux DJ!”
First Annual. Since every marketeer’s first go at a new party is technically the “first annual,” don’t be lured in by those magical words, which lend undue credibility to a new venture. Or do be aware of it and have a good time anyway. Nobody likes a hater. File these along with anniversaries, like Mist’s six-year reunion and Playboy magazine’s 55th.
Holidaze. Just take note: Bank holidays are celebrated for four to five days; everything is observed, even Secretary’s Day. Thanksgiving gets two nights; New Year’s Eve sucks up a week; Halloween lasts up to 10 days.
Top shelf: Celebrity-driven parties
Tipping the Hat. Also known as a “special appearance,” “hosted by” or, our favorite, “an evening with,” which conjures up images of braiding one another’s hair and telling ghost stories over a flashlight. But really it’s just a paid celebrity appearance. In their contract, they agree to arrive at a pre-prescribed time, and, after having dined at the club’s associated restaurant of choice, given interviews, posed for photos, walked a carpet, sat in a designated point of display and generally partied it up until their earliest time of exit, they leave. Celebs often agree not to party at competing clubs on the same night and sometimes even within up to seven days before or after! And for this they receive a king’s ransom in dinners, bottles, cakes, swag and publicity. Kinda makes you wanna drop an album, doesn’t it?
The Hot Mic. A recording artist is advertised as a “host,” but you just know that there’s a microphone ready and waiting for them to jump on and give a spontaneous three-song mini-concert, thus avoiding entertainment tax.
Birthday. Somewhere along the way, a rule was written that if one does not celebrate one’s birthday by hosting at a nightclub, one has not arrived socially. Hence, the ubiquitous celebrity birthday bash/blowout/extravaganza that along with celeb appearances is the mainstay of the club scene’s event calendar. But outside of the all-important 21st or 30th birthdays, celebrities rarely plaster their real ages on fliers.
Shock and Awe. Sometimes celebrity hosts are cheaper by the dozen. When the price goes down on buying talent for the night, sometimes the impact goes up, such as having the entire Las Vegas Lingerie Bowl team on site or the entire cast of Entourage at the grand opening of Sugarcane. Also better in bunches are current and former Miss USAs, Playboy Playmates, reality-TV casts and porn stars. God bless America.
Hybrid Theory. Something of a zenith, the very pinnacle of celebrity-hosted party aspiration is the hybrid, wherein several of the above party styles can be unleashed simultaneously, such as when actor/recording artist Jamie Foxx celebrated both his birthday and his record-release party at Tao. Sweet serendipity!