Friday, January 20, 2012

Escape from Douchery, Part 11: Drai's After Hours

Okay, so this whole week is a little atypical for me, I admit it. I'm writing up two "escape from douchebaggery" posts in one week... and even more shockingly, they're both about nightclubs. I know, wonders never cease. But I finally launched a Google + page for this blog, so I figured why not pump out some extra content to populate it? Plus, there are certain, er, adult events going on in Vegas this weekend, and I'm told the subject of this post is a place where many of the... "award winning entertainers" will end up after the after-parties.

Las Vegas is a town where people party LATE. People used to travel to Las Vegas to gamble, but nightclub culture has taken over the city and it seems like more and more people visit to indulge in pure debauchery that they wouldn't consider back in the "real world." And that means very little sleep happens over the course of a typical Las Vegas weekend.

Most Vegas nightclubs are open until 4:00 AM or even later... and Drai's After Hours at Bill's Gamblin' Hall is the place that the truly dedicated go to AFTER the other clubs close.

Drai's doesn't even open its doors until 1:00 AM and it doesn't close until long after the sun comes up, which does mean that it's a place where you can't fully escape the douchebag element. Plenty of coked out bros trolling for some late night lovin' end up at the place, but the place hits its peak after 4 in the morning, which weeds out most of the lamer elements and leaves you with a crowd of more interesting, artsy and restless types who don't live by normal schedules.  Plus, the way the venue is laid out makes it much easier to avoid people you don't want to deal with than other clubs which are usually so packed with people that they're a vivid vision of personal hell for anyone with even mild agoraphobia.

The club is located in the chintzy casino's basement, a fact that makes the place sexy and intriguing before you even step inside. Drai's has a uniquely lived in and retro cool feel that's hip and stylish without trying to be trendy. The dimly lit space features funky artwork hanging from red walls, bookshelves stuffed with leather-bound tomes, and tons of seating on comfy sofas, many of which are located in private nooks and corners that make it the perfect spot for epic late night make-out sessions (not that I'm speaking from experience or anything) and give the whole place a vibe similar to the dreamy club in David Lynch's Mullholland Drive. All that's missing is a creepy magician/ lounge singer dude (note to Drai's management... hiring a slightly creepy magician/ lounge singer dude would instantly award you with ten million more hipster cred points).

The chilled out main lounge area is my favorite part of the club, but if you are awake enough to dance, there are two different rooms where you can show off your moves. DJs in the Hip Hop Room spin typical Top 40 bangers by the likes of Kanye and Lil' Wayne, but do a good job of mixing in some old school classics as well. And you can hear some genuinely Progressive music that you're not gonna hear at other clubs in the House Room.

I recommend hitting Drai's deep into the night. It may open at 1:00 AM, but I've always found the club is at its most intoxicating after 5:00 AM, when the normals have all hooked up or given up on hooking up and decided to hit the sheets. The place doesn't empty out late at night by any means, but the crowd thins enough that you can stretch out a bit and take in some excellent people watching. I've had conversations with interesting people from all over the country (and the world) well past the witching hour at Drai's. Sometimes, the place stays open until noon if people are still hanging out... and those are the nights that are legendary and dream like, because people who hang out and drink and talk until noon are generally the kinds of weirdos, freaks, artists, dreamers, and searchers that always populate the truly great stories you'll be telling for the rest of your life.

I've experienced a few magical nights at Drai's when the the embody everything I love about a successful Las Vegas weekend, because the fact that it's open until after the sun rises means that it attracts a mix of restless people who never want the night, or the adventures that the night promises, to come to an end.

That said, if you go the weekend I'm posting this, you will probably run into some pervy dudes hoping to meet porn stars... it's not all magic and mystery. It's still Las Vegas, after all.

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