One of the cornerstones of Las Vegas Strip nightlife reopened in time for Halloween weekend, when Drai’s After Hours at the Cromwell came back to life as Drai’s Lounge at the early hour of 10 p.m. on Friday, October 30.
Obviously, many things have changed since the basement-level club last hosted party people in March, and Drai’s and the Cromwell have been through a lot since the pandemic struck. The boutique hotel and casino became the last resort on Las Vegas Boulevard to reopen, on October 29, and it shifted gears to become the only adults-only property on the Strip. (Children are allowed to dine with their families at Giada, but that’s it.)
“I think it’s a great idea. The Cromwell is such a small hotel, why not do it?” says Dustin Drai, vice president of entertainment at Drai’s Beachclub, Nightclub and After Hours. “This is just an extra thing to make [the property] more attractive to adults who want to come to Vegas and have a great time.”
Dustin, the son of the club’s owner and Vegas nightlife legend Victor Drai, participated in the other significant development from the summer shutdown—an impressive TV takeover for the Drai’s brand. The second season of MTV’s Double Shot at Love reality show, starring Jersey Shore buddies Pauly D and Vinny Guadagnino, filmed mostly at the nearby Linq hotel and at Drai’s last year. The show aired from June through October, spotlighting Pauly’s DJ residency at the rooftop dayclub and giving Dustin Drai some screen time, too.
“It was a lot of fun,” the latter says of his TV debut. “My first thought was, you’d see me walking in the background a little. But then we got into filming, and they were like, we need you eight hours a day for this day and this day. I just went with the flow and enjoyed it actually, and we were ecstatic with the final product.”
Popular reality dating show Love Island, which aired on CBS in August and September, also filmed at Drai’s. The Vegas property and Caesars Entertainment executives teamed with that show’s producers to quickly set up a production bubble at the shuttered Cromwell. The temporary set reconfigured the rooftop club with a dorm-style bedroom built on the dancefloor.
There’s still no timetable established for the reopening of the Drai’s Beachclub & Nightclub at the top of the Cromwell, but the opening of Drai’s Lounge offers the brand an opportunity to capitalize on all that summer TV exposure.
“At least we were able to keep the Drai’s name alive during the shutdown,” Dustin says. “Drai’s Lounge is going to be a great feeling because the After Hours space was built for this type of concept. It’s smaller and more intimate. It’s going to feel how it felt when it first opened 27 years ago.”
The venue is open from 10 p.m. until late Friday (or early Saturday) through Sunday with DJs, bottle service, craft cocktails and new food options. Like other dayclubs and nightclubs that have reopened under capacity restrictions with loungelike operations, Drai’s will be following safety protocols including 6 feet of distance between tables and a six-person limit for groups. Dancing is not happening at dance clubs these days.
“They’re different. They’re not the rah-rah, flashing lights, DJs and artists nightclubs everyone is used to,” says Dustin, who has visited other venues like Marquee and XS in recent weeks. “It was cool to be back at XS standing there looking around that beautiful venue, because it reminded me when my dad first opened XS. Back then, the DJ was in the back corner, and funny enough, where the DJ played then is where the DJ is now.
“A lot of these venues spend a lot of money to make it extremely beautiful, and people lose that because they’re coming to see Tiësto or the Chainsmokers or whoever, and that’s their night,” Dustin continues. “[Now] they’re opening their vision, and it’s like, wow, this room is gorgeous; this place is amazing. And [people are] really experiencing the vibe of the room. It’s exciting to get back to that.”