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[Architect]

Anthony Olheiser’s strategy for LAX: focus on the fun

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The executive director of brand activation is creating a party scene for the people.

Vanilla Ice, Flavor Flav and the Property Brothers walk into a bar … That’s not the start of a joke. That was the scene at LAX on January 21, when the Luxor nightclub relaunched its bi-weekly Throwback Thursdays nostalgia bash with the frosty one as the headliner.

The party, which features ’80s, ’90s and early ’00s artists like Young MC (February 18) and Too $hort (March 10) performing their sing-along hits, is part of a strategic overhaul of the 9-year-old venue that started three months ago when the Luxor tapped Anthony Olheiser as executive director of brand activation. The nightlife veteran brings 13 years of hospitality experience to LAX, from managing Tao nightclub to overseeing nightlife at MGM Grand for six years to running food and beverage at the Ritz-Carlton at L.A. Live.

His first step under the pyramid was an important one: rightsizing the operation to make MGM Resorts’ only in-house-operated club a highly profitable part of the company’s portfolio. Now, he’s turning his attention to programming and carving a niche for the nightspot among the Strip’s DJ-driven giants.

“There are clubs that do electronic music really well; there are clubs that do hip-hop really well,” says Olheiser, who sees a lack of venues that cater to customers with more mainstream musical tastes. “I want to fill that gap. With LAX, I want it to be this really open-format, very comfortable, affordable, approachable nightlife experience.”

Along with the Thursday bashes—mark your calendar for a House Party 2-style jammy jam with Kid ’n Play on March 24—Olheiser sees LAX hosting afterparties for UFC fights and concerts at the nearby T-Mobile Arena and just showing visitors a damn good, hassle-free time.

“I’m trying to reintroduce nightlife [from] maybe 15 years ago, where it’s really all about the party and maybe less about the business,” he says. “We just want to focus on the party; we just want to focus on the fun.”

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