Gary Brooks’ first nightlife position in the U.S. wasn’t in Las Vegas, the entertainment capital where he now works as Hakkasan Group’s executive director of promotions, but in St. Louis, Missouri. It was a bit of a switch from his work with the institution known as Godskitchen in the U.K. and Ibiza.
“I actually quite liked it,” he says of St. Louis. “The people were very nice, and I was a novelty—they’d never met anyone who was English. It’s more of a bar culture there, and the nightclubs are more underground.” Brooks helped build Angel Management Group’s Home Nightclub at the Ameristar Casino. “The town was screaming out for it, but it didn’t have the custom for it.”
Brooks quickly transitioned to Las Vegas, where the nightlife culture and his company’s promotions department are both highly developed. “One thing I’ve learned about my job is to listen to what the customer is saying,” he says. “I stand at the door and talk to people coming out and going in, and they give you invaluable feedback. In our company, everybody—regardless of department or job title—has an opinion and is allowed to be vocal about it. You should always listen to your customers and your staff; only a fool wouldn’t.”
Another big part of Brooks’ job: listening to the world-famous artists who call Hakkasan clubs their home in Las Vegas. He has been working with Armin van Buuren and Tiësto for a decade. “I’ve known Calvin Harris probably eight years now, and I was just telling him how it’s weird [seeing] one of your friends become so big and so famous,” Brooks says. “But he doesn’t act like he’s famous. He’s just a normal guy. It’s been weird for me seeing him get bigger and bigger, but there’s no weirdness with him.”