Nightclubs seem to age in dog years. For every spin ’round the sun, they take the brunt of countless spilled cocktails, high-heeled footsteps and drunken memories-in-the-making. Some age gracefully, others less so, but, eventually, all must close their doors and wish us a final good night. Here, we look back on the venues we lost in 2011, the DJs we gained and the developments that made the last 365 nights so special.
Electric Daisy Carnival
There was no bigger nightlife story in 2011 than the three-night, mid-summer dance music festival, which brought more than 200,000 people to Las Vegas Motor Speedway to bask in sets from top international DJs like Avicii and Swedish House Mafia on five outdoor stages. While the event has courted controversy elsewhere, Vegas’ first installment was relatively incident-free. A swarm of EDM fans came, donned neon underwear and big furry boots and danced through the sweaty night under the glow of actual carnival rides and over-the-top light productions that very well might have been visible from space. From the ground, it was one big, happy success, and it’s coming back for Year 2 this June.
Some nightclubs announce their demise weeks in advance, giving us time to mourn, reminisce and dig out the good shoes for one last night on the town. Others disappear literally overnight, closing before we’ve had a chance to swallow the information, let alone chase it with something sweet. In 2011, Las Vegas said goodbye to some perennial favorites—Light Group’s Jet nightclub, the intimate Blush Boutique Nightclub at the Wynn, jovial Irish pub McFadden’s at the Rio—as well as short-lived concepts—Eve at Crystals and Nikki Beach at the Trop. In time, (this weekend in the case of Jet’s 1Oak makeover and Tropicana’s RPM) we’ll see them reborn. It’s the circle of nightlife, and it moves us all.
The other side of that circle? Openings: Marquee, Chateau, Gallery, Artifice, Insert Coin(s), Lady Silvia, Nikki Beach (again) and a bunch of places at Town Square, among others. Some are already changing the shape of nightlife in Las Vegas (see: the massive crowds packed into Marquee’s EDM-dedicated main room and Artifice’s hipster regulars), and there are more to come as the year winds down. New Year’s Eve will boast grand openings for Hyde Bellagio, 1Oak at the Mirage and RPM, and a new Downtown drag bar and Lily at the Bellagio are on the schedule for early 2012.
“Last year everybody was kinda saying under their breath, ‘Will this work? Will people actually show up?’” recalls Ryan “Kaskade” Raddon of his residency at Encore Beach Club. “This year it’s like, ‘Woo! Bring more speakers in; we’ve got 4,000 people here!’” Yes, 2011 was the year of the DJ, with international heavyweights taking the Vegas scene seriously enough to sign on for multi-date residencies, like Kaskade’s at both EBC and Marquee, David Guetta’s F*** Me I’m Famous party at Wet Republic and Pete Tong’s pool party at EBC. And the momentum only seems to be building. Marquee, a club that co-owner Jason Strauss says was built explicitly to showcase EDM, has seen incredible success its rookie year, drawing swarms of clubbers and earning a nod on the DJ Mag Top 100 clubs list. Skrillex is up for (count ’em) five Grammys, and Deadmau5 has just signed on for a multi-date, multi-venue residency at the Wynn. Whether you’re an EDM vet or a bandwagon newbie, the words “I’m with the DJ” have never been cooler.