Luxe Life Blog
Nightlife guru Jack Colton talks supper clubs, non-Strip adventures
While Robin Leach takes his traditional summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy, many of our Strip and Las Vegas personalities have stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. Our thanks to them all. We continue today, with nightlife czar Jack Colton, who knows a lot about the inner workings of our thriving nightclub entertainment scene.
By Jack Colton
It is always a great pleasure to take the reins of Robin Leach’s column for a day as he is on vacation basking in the beautiful Italian landscapes. This year, Robin asked for a sort of State of the Union on Las Vegas nightlife, as well as allowing me the opportunity to remind everyone that there is life outside the norm in Las Vegas through many of the area adventures that I’ve been trying out to describe on my own site JackColton.com.
First, let’s explore the latest old trend that might be popping up on the Strip, the supper club, as well as what will happen when the newest nightclubs open later this year.
RISE OF THE SUPPER CLUBS -- MAYBE
With Botero at the Encore opening its own style of supper club, and Bagatelle at Tropicana soon opening one, as well -- where guests enjoy a high-energy blend of dinner and nightlife -- people have been wondering if this restyled version of the classic all-evening social club will be the next big trend in entertainment.
Whether we see more supper clubs open on the Strip will depend on how well these two venues do, since club owners and restaurateurs have a watch-and-see mentality.
Is there room in the day for partygoers to support more than a few supper clubs? This isn’t to say that Botero and Bagatelle won’t be successful -- I hope that they are -- but I would be cautious to expect supper clubs to be the next big thing.
People need to sleep at some point. Pool and seasonal brunch parties go until 6 p.m. or later, hundreds of restaurants are vying for dinner customers, and dozens of nightclubs and lounges compete for people to step through their ropes.
For a rise in supper clubs, one or more already-established party destinations would have to give way, and it is unlikely that nightlife management companies, who already own nearly all of the daytime and nighttime parties, will choose to be their own competition.
With new nightclub properties opening soon at MGM Grand, the Palazzo, Mandalay Bay and the Palms, people are asking the same questions that are always brought up each time a newer or bigger nightclub opens: What does this mean for the other nightclubs? Will it spell gloom and doom for everyone else?
The openings will merely create the same situation as when the last dozen or so nightclubs opened. Added competition forces existing nightclub marketers to raise the bar on their quality of events, customer service and overall imagination.
In recent years, we have seen their adaptation take us farther away from the once-standard, run-of-the-mill booking of celebrities, who might set their drink down long enough to wave to the crowd, to nightclubs now having every major global DJ as a resident, live performances by today’s most popular Top 40 singers, characters in costume livening up the mood while spraying crowds with champagne and confetti and passing out blinking “boom sticks.”
Amenities in nightclub table service will soon expand into things outside the standard bowl of lemons and limes. In my personal wish list, all table service would come with freshly squeezed juices, cell phone chargers, wet towels, snack food and enough hangover cure packets for everyone in the party. Hint, hint!
ADVENTURES AND MORE!
It has been a goal of mine in recent weeks to explore what else Las Vegas has to offer locals and tourists alike outside the Strip. While I’m only partially through my list of area attractions, my criteria for these activities are each adventure must have at least implied risk of danger (even when they are safe), they can’t involve drinking, and they must be something that tourists and locals would enjoy.
SKY COMBAT ACE
My first adventure took me to the hanger of Sky Combat Ace at the Henderson Airport, where a friend and I spent a morning aerial dogfighting high-performance acrobatic planes. The goal of the dogfight is to maneuver your plane behind the other aircraft, which means a lot of intense barrel rolls, fast turns and unexpected dives!
For good measure, we even flew upside down and backward. You get to fly the plane, experience an extreme amount of G force, and there is even a chance that you will pass out during your flight. In terms of a thrill factor, I’d say Sky Combat Ace is near the top.
STRATOSPHERE SKY JUMP
I don’t have a fear of heights, but something about being on top of a tall building makes my palms sweaty. It’s like I have a fear of jumping off it. Naturally, my next adventure took me to Stratosphere’s SkyJump, where you jump off a 108-story building.
There isn’t room for error at SkyJump, and they have a perfect safety record since opening more than two years ago. The reason: You aren’t bungee jumping; you are being lowered down in 17 seconds by multiple guide wires and a descending machine. A lot of people ask why you wouldn’t just skydive; this is a unique experience, as your mind plays tricks on you just before you step off that nearly 900-foot ledge.
Speaking of skydiving, I went skydiving, too. People talk about doing it “someday”; it is one of those adventures everyone should try. Much like the SkyJump at Stratosphere, nearly all of the fear and anticipation disappears the moment you step out of the plane. The rest is pure excitement.
I was more concerned that I had apparently adjusted my harness incorrectly and was now dangling thousands of feet in the air with a pinched you-know-what. Still, the view is amazing, it is always a thrill, and you should do it. Just check the harness.
It is a young man’s dream to get to race around in a Ferrari, which is exactly what I did during my adventure at Exotics Racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. They put me through a brief instructional course and had me in a car with a professional driver who showed me what to do on the course.
Then I was put behind the wheel of a brand new yellow Ferrari 430 Scuderia so that I could race others in Lamborghinis, Aston Martins and Porsches. I had a professional driver at my side offering guidance on how to drive as fast as possible. A really cool experience; I highly recommend it.
MACHINE GUNS VEGAS
I had to check out Machine Guns Vegas, which specializes in letting patrons shoot a variety of weapons big and small. Select everything from the standard MP5 and shotgun to packages that are modeled after blockbusters like “Jurassic Park” and “First Blood.” They even have an RPG. The result of my range time was clear: If you see me with a shotgun, you’re in no danger of being hit.
When it gets to be 105 degrees, nothing sounds better than a relaxing day at the lake. But since implied risk is one of my adventure rules, it was a requirement that if we were to rent a boat that we jump off multiple cliffs and wakeboard.
All of which happened without much incident, other than me hitting the water really hard and ripping that little webbing on the top of your mouth that holds your lip to your gums. Torn frenulum aside, get friends together and rent a boat at Lake Mead. Party boats fit 10 people, and a daily rate starts at $325.
Our thanks to Jack for his entertainment analysis and recommendations. Be sure to check out our other guest columns today from UNLV student turned HGTV star Alison Victoria and Christophe Tassan, director of wine at Mandalay Bay. Join us Monday with “Jersey Boys” at the Paris cast members, Ron Randazzo’s amazing 30-year run as the manager of a landmark Las Vegas restaurant and the high-powered female executive of a Las Vegas entertainment and sports conglomerate.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
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