A&E

AREA15’s new DJ series and Emporium Arcade Bar add up to new Vegas nightlife

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Emporium Arcade Bar and opening-weekend performers 4B (left) and Disco Fries
Photo: Michael Kirschbaum and AREA15 / Courtesy

As Las Vegas visitors and locals continue to discover the diverse offerings at Area15, the “experiential entertainment district” just off the Strip keeps adding new experiences. Memorial Day Weekend brought its first proper entertainment event, Neon Dream, a sort of mini festival with DJs and live performers.

This weekend brings the launch of a DJ-centric outdoor party series at the 32,000-square-foot A-Lot, and the artists hitting the decks are boldfaced names. Onetime Drai’s resident 4B and electronic duo Disco Fries team up for the kickoff with future Saturdays scheduling Morgan Page, Borgeous, A-Trak, Elephante and Paul Oakenfold.

“Area15 was always meant to be a venue for different types of entertainment, and when we started to talk through what this series at the A-Lot would be, we wanted to bring different sounds from across the globe,” says Howard Weiss, director of sales and entertainment strategy. “Some of the artists we’ve announced are pretty mainstream, but we will continue to diversify and go a little underground with some things you won’t be able to find on the Strip. We think there’s a gap in the market for that.”

Area15 is an alternative experience for Las Vegas in general, and suddenly it’s a creative alternative to Vegas nightlife, too, something apart from big clubs on the Strip and the bubbling local scene.

“Our intent was never to compete with the Strip,” Weiss continues. “We’re going to partner with different groups and bring in different festival events, and we do have the festival grounds on the old Scandia lot. But everything we do is going to be approachable and really fits the Area15 brand, because that’s the most important thing when we make a decision. It’s brand first and everything else follows, because we are so different.”

That former amusement park land—four acres referred to as the Grounds—could hold somewhere in the vicinity of 15,000 people. The A-Lot does about 4,000, and the adjacent Portal, a 6,500-square-foot indoor event space with projection map screens, squeezes in another 700.

But there are more intimate nightlife options at Area15, including the Chicago transplant Emporium Arcade Bar, a two-story, 600-capacity bar and lounge energized by classic arcade games, pool tables, foosball and other games. It debuted in February and has its own art component—a vibrant mural collection from local artists—and a steady schedule of local and regional DJs.

“Area15 billed itself as an alternative to the casinos for entertainment in Las Vegas, and we fit that as well,” says Steve Funkhouser, Emporium’s regional general manager. “All the different Emporiums [across the country] are an alternative to the typical nightclub you’re going to see.”

Emporium is particularly friendly to locals with its chill vibes and lack of a cover charge. There’s no dress code, and it’s already attracting a diverse clientele, Funkhouser says. “You hear ‘arcade bar’ and people think of it as a thing for dudes, but more than half of our clientele is female. We’re trying to keep the concept of being a lot of things to a lot of people.”

Bay Area fave DJ Weapon spins on June 19, and he’s emblematic of the type of artist at Emporium, open from noon until midnight daily and until 2 a.m. on weekends. National Red Bull Champion DJ Lazyboy played recently and scratch battles are in the works. In the coming weeks, the bar will also launch a Monday industry night, featuring specials for locals, aligning with the new Industry Mondays at multiple Area15 venues including Oddwood, Wink World and the Beast.

“There’s so much industry here, and we’re still figuring out how to best cater to that crowd and how they want to hang out, hear some music and see some cool stuff,” Funkhouser says.

4B & DISCO FRIES June 19, 10 p.m., $20-$25. A-Lot at Area15, area15.com.

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Tags: Nightlife, Area15
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