Even before Jonnie and Mark Houston opened On the Record at Park MGM in December, the LA-based nightlife impresarios knew they had to create a powerful connection with the sometimes-slippery Vegas hospitality-industry crowd. It’s easier said than done; veteran club operators know you can’t just throw a typical midweek party and expect to build a following from a notoriously fickle group.
But OTR Industry Wednesdays came out strong on January 2 and hasn’t let up, taking advantage of the speakeasy-style club’s varying environments with a diverse music mix and other innovative programming.
“It’s been well-received right out of the gate,” Mark Houston says. “I find it surprising in a city that’s so huge on entertainment … that people have responded with, wow, I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s a nice feeling to hear people respond that way, because it makes us feel like we’re on the right track to something unique. I’m old-school; I love the word of mouth.”
One of the essential elements of the party has been taking place in the hidden Vinyl Parlor, which hosts guest “startenders” on weekends—elite bartenders from other cities showing off their mixology skills. On Wednesdays, the startenders are locals, and shining the spotlight on Las Vegas’ incredible cocktail culture and personalities is a win-win for On the Record.
“It’s incredible just to have them there, let alone with what they’re doing behind the bar,” Mark Houston says. “We’ve seen how that whole culture can develop at [our bar] Harvard & Stone [in Hollywood] and how it brings a community together and gives our fellow bar owners and bartenders a reason to come out and support. And to have that program in the Vinyl Parlour, when so many [Vegas clubs] are about the turn-and-burn and two-tone drinks, that’s such a huge thing for us.”
The Wednesday-night party also goes against the grain by incorporating DJs and artists seldom seen in Vegas with more familiar favorites. On March 27, legendary hip-hop producer DJ Premier—yes, the guy who formed Gang Starr with the late rapper Guru—is on the decks.
“We’re always thinking of new ideas and new ways of creating something within this space,” Mark Houston says. “We’re booking new talent and thinking of variations on how things will play out throughout the night, so it feels and looks different. If you go to a place every Wednesday and you find your place within it and like what it is, you still want to see something fresh and new. So that [musical] aspect is always evolving and growing and switching around.”
OTR INDUSTRY WEDNESDAYS with DJ Premier, March 27, 10:30 p.m., $25-$30. On the Record, 702-730-6773.