Nightlife

[The Nightlife Issue]

Veteran DJ Warren Peace is once again on the rise

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Deanna Rilling

When they write the history book on Las Vegas nightlife, Warren Peace should get his own chapter.

It will start 27 years ago, when he was Warren White, a young kid hearing his first DJ set on the radio. Curious, he got a fake ID so he could check it out live and meet the DJ behind those sounds: Chris Cox, who gave Peace his first real gig at a long-gone bar across from UNLV.

Peace rose to prominence with his Word Up show on KUNV 91.5-FM, where he spun hip-hop, and eventually scored his big break in the Vegas DJ scene in the late ’90s at RA inside the Luxor (now LAX). He played for five years there, and along with Mr. Bob, achieved local legend status. That could have been the end of his Vegas nightlife story.

But Peace moved on. “Right after RA, I tried to do my own thing at the Aladdin—the club was called Curve—that didn’t really work,” he recalls. “I started working at Opium and that didn’t go far. Then I started working at Polly Esther’s for about seven to eight months.” While Peace enjoyed the throwback pop-culture surroundings of the Stratosphere nightclub and expanding his retro collection, something was amiss.

“The thing that happened was I got stereotyped,” Peace says. “Most people don’t realize that as a DJ and a music lover, you love all types of music. For me to say I like rock and rap, that doesn’t make sense to them. … So basically, I was a black dude in town who plays hip-hop and plays it well,” but that wasn’t the image that local clubs wanted. “So I just didn’t get any work.”

The FM airwaves became Peace’s platform. Once at KLUC 98.5-FM, he launched Vibrate Radio with fellow DJ and scene staple Dave Fogg, mixing things up with a house-music format. “I was basically reinventing myself at that point,” Peace says. “I just dove back into the music and started listening to house again.”

The timing couldn’t have been better. DJ AM’s popular mashup style was being replicated throughout town and nightlife needed something fresh. Soon after, Peace began DJing with Fogg at Tryst and XS.

Not everyone was convinced that incorporating house music into the clubs would work. Other DJs thought Peace was making a mistake, but he remembers telling them, “We don’t want to sound like everything else, and look, it’s working. You get some Europeans going crazy and everyone wants to follow suit!”

Soon XS was the most popular club in the country, and Peace had racked up accolades from the biggest names in the biz—Deadmau5, Skrillex, Steve Aoki and Afrojack.

But in an age where the producer is the superstar, will Peace—truly a DJ’s DJ who spends more time in the booth than the studio—be pushed out?

Fortunately for skilled spinners like Peace, talent will always carry the day. He recently left his longtime home at XS to become a headliner at Drai’s new Cromwell nightclub/dayclub.

“I just felt it was time to move on and try to take my talents higher,” Peace says. “I’m never gonna be on the bill [with the big names at XS] because I don’t draw. From the business side of clubbing, I saw that at Drai’s I would have the opportunity to headline. I felt that Drai’s was the last opportunity to headline a major nightclub in Las Vegas. So I took it.”

Despite the hosting celebrities, button-pushing celebutards and performing pop stars, Peace predicts Las Vegas will always need a good DJ to start the party and keep it going. “I always tell DJs coming up: Anyone can rock a house,” he says. “Anyone can rock a Labor Day Weekend Saturday and bang it out at a pool party with half-naked women going crazy. Give me an empty room with an age difference from 18 to 50 and get that place going? You’re good.”

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