Thursday, July 19, 2012

How to Fix Nightclubs: Unsolicited Advice from a Hater of the Scene

Since there is no logical way for me to write a post discussing Batman on a blog about Las Vegas, I suppose I'll have to ignore what has become a single-minded focus on the fact that I'm seeing The Dark Knight Rises in a mere 8 or so hours and actually discuss something that my readers might find vaguely relevant. (Though everyone on the planet is excited for the conclusion of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, so my readers would probably enjoy a meta discussion of politics and philosophy in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, right? Right? Is this thing on?)

Okay, so actual Las Vegas content... right! I've made myself clear time and time again that I really, really, (REALLY!!!) don't like the whole nightclub scene in Las Vegas. It should come as no surprise that a dude who prefers dive bars with Craft Beers, deep jukeboxes, and interesting crowds would be against places that make you wait lines for just long enough to feel humiliated before you have to pay an exorbitantly high cover charge in order to enter a club packed with overly aggressive bros all wearing basically the same button up shirt uniforms as they compete for the attention of the few short-skirted women who are there without their boyfriends by paying for ridiculously overpriced and not particularly strong cocktails while awful Top 40 hits you're already sick of blast out of the speakers. Plus some of these places have sad looking girls dancing in cages or columns of fire blasting from the ceilings that make them feel like Sodom and Gomorrah come to vivid life. There's a reason I never party on Hollywood Blvd. or The Sunset Strip while I'm home in Los Angeles, and I try to avoid these exact scenes which repeat in almost every Las Vegas nightclub.

That said, I have absolutely nothing against dancing. I used to refuse to dance, back when I was younger and more self-conscious. I've finally learned to not care what people think of me (and realized that mostly people are not really thinking of me at all anyway) and learned to enjoy myself on the dance floor, or as much as an uncoordinated straight Jewish dude can enjoy themselves on a dance floor (which is quite a lot when enough alcohol is involved!)

All that is to say I would not mind finding a fun place to dance in Las Vegas, but it's hard to work myself up to waiting in those lines and trying to convince the pretentious bouncers that I'm cool enough to get in to a place that I won't really like once I've finally lowered my dignity enough to actually get in. So that's why I've created this list of unsolicited advice on how one could create the perfect, non-douchey nightclub that would attract a alternate crowd to the usual bros and bro-ettes that queue up to get into The Marquee and XS every night. (Because clearly the owners of these clubs, with their mile-long lines of partygoers waiting for hours to gain entry as they make money hand over fist, really need my advice.) My perfect nightclub would feature:

No Velvet Rope
While Luxor's Savile Row has done an admirable job creating an alternative space designed to attract a more creative and interesting crowd than most Vegas clubs, they've done so by doubling down on the exclusivity thing, featuring a bouncer so demanding he's become a local celebrity. They keep out the usual boring Club-hoppers, but it also means they keep out pretty much everyone. My dream club would feature no Velvet Rope or bouncer, and people would only be shut out if the place was filled past fire codes. I'd want to include everyone, which would mean that yes, many of those DBags I often make fun of on this site would be allowed in, in the spirit of bro-hood and democracy. Besides, the truly boring people would probably stay away as the place would feature...

Better (and Less Popular) Music
While I am not a electronic music superfan, the fact that many of the hot clubs are booking top-tier DJs playing original tunes as opposed to the same Top 40 that every other place plays all the time is encouraging. But my club would mix it up with DJs spinning some truly eclectic tunes that would not fall into the Dubsteppin' category. I'd want DJs that had James Murphy's encyclopedic knowledge of cool music, from the very latest underground indie to amazing deep cuts from decades past. My place would feature DJs playing set lists from bands that would resemble the hipster name-checking exercise Murphy became famous for with Losing My Edge. Who knows, maybe Murphy would be willing to become a resident DJ at my place. He has a little more time on his hands since he retired LCD Soundsystem... and he can't say no since this club will never exist in the real world anyway!

Couches for All!
I'm no socialist. I know that much of the money clubs pull in is made from bottle service. So sure, I'll still have a VIP section where people who are dumb enough to pay $300 for a $25 bottle of booze plus the privilege of  having a table saved for them. I WILL TAKE YOUR MONEY IF YOU WANT TO GIVE IT TO ME, ONE PERCENTERS! But my club would also feature couches and seating for everyone to take a load off after hitting the dance floor. If you're dancing in a crowded and hot club, you should be able to sit. America's working class should have seats in nightclubs too! If Barack Obama made this part of his stump speech, he'd win in a landslide come November.

Affordable Drinks
Again, I know the clubs make much of their profit on alcohol sales. But the markup is ridiculous enough at even the most affordable dive bar... and somehow in a nightclub, alcohol ends up costing about three times what it costs at (the already not so cheap) Casino bars. My club would pour decent cocktails and great Beer, and wouldn't charge you an arm and a leg (when just an arm will suffice for us to turn a decent profit).
 
A Unique Vibe
Almost every megaclub opening in Las Vegas is hyped up beyond belief, with budgets ballooning as Casinos engage in a nuclear arms race (set to a throbbing Dubstep beat) to open the most excessive nightlife spot on The Strip. But why are these places spending millions of dollars to basically repeat the exact same boring designs over and over? With almost every club featuring the same Miami in the 80's-vomit color scheme, strobe lights, and smoke machines, why can't one of these clubs have a creative design and atmosphere? Most clubs are competing for the most opulent, luxurious, Life-styles of the Rich and Famous, Kanye West video vibe possible, but I'd go for something else. Maybe a grungy CBGB type throwback design (shades of The Double Down Saloon) for the rock kids, or a well thought out theme that transports you to a different place, as befitting of a nightclub in the Disneyworld for adults that is Las Vegas. Possible crazy fun themes (instead of pretentious and snooty) include a futuristic Akira-like backdrop with lasers and dancing robots, a meticulously detailed high school gym (to give you the chance to redeem yourself from the days when you'd stand in the corner at a school dance and wallflower it up while The Wallflowers played) or even... (you all knew Batman was coming back into this post eventually) The Batcave. (Fun fact, there was indeed once a Batman themed nightclub called Wayne Manor in the San Fracisco suburbs back in the 60s. Thanks, internet!)

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