The music blares as the DJ reaches a crescendo. The walls pound, and hundreds of hands raise in the air. Bodies bump, and sweat pours from people who have been dancing for hours.
In nooks around the dance floor, groups of bachelorettes and tables of high rollers imbibe thousand-dollar bottles of booze. Outside, hundreds more people line up, waiting for their chance to be part of the fun.
This is a typical weekend night in Las Vegas – thousands of visitors and residents clubbing on the Strip.
“This is the best ever,” said Christa Adams, of Toronto, as she danced to hip-hop tracks blasting at 1Oak at the Mirage. “I feel like I’ve gone to clubbing Heaven!”
Nightlife rapidly has become one of the main draws in Las Vegas, as resort companies look to attract younger crowds, diversify and out-dazzle their competition. Strip nightclubs regularly welcome thousands of guests a night and book star DJs that command multi-million-dollar pay-checks.
XS at the Wynn set the trend in Las Vegas and continues to be one of the most successful nightclubs on the planet. It isn’t uncommon for 8,000 people to crowd the venue on a Saturday night. Recent upgrades cost $10 million but were a drop in the bucket for owners considering XS made more than $100 million in profits last year.
The lavish, gold-accented club features a sunken dance floor, poolside patio and headliner DJs. Drinks are slightly more expensive than at other top-tier nightlife spots, but the vibe makes up for the cost.
I recently went to XS for a bachelorette party, and it was fantastic – elegant, energetic and hands-down the best venue in Las Vegas if you can‘t afford – or don’t want to pay for – bottle service. The club has plenty of prime, free real estate that offers great people watching.
Tao at the Venetian is another stellar choice for a late night out. It’s a frequent hot spot for A-list celebrities and for good reason. It features a full restaurant menu of Asian delights, an oversized main dance floor and multiple lounge spaces. A 20-foot Buddha floats peacefully above an infinity pool stocked with Japanese Koi, a marked departure from the pulsing beats that surround. On many nights, barely-dressed models soak in bathtubs of rose petals, one of many only-in-Vegas sights at the club. There’s also the Opium Room, a chill getaway with its own DJ booth.
Hakkasan at MGM Grand comprises five floors of revelry, with food, music, dancing and fun. There are four nightclub venues between floors three and five, and several smaller, more intimate lounge spaces if you need a break from the action. It is among Las Vegas’ biggest nightclubs and most impressive, with a stellar DJ lineup that includes Calvin Harris, Tiesto and Steve Aoki. Enjoy dim sum on the first floor, dancing in the mezzanine, then an outdoor cool down in the Pavilion oriental garden.
If you don’t have time to hit a Vegas show and go clubbing, head to electronic music mecca Light at Mandalay Bay. Cirque du Soleil acrobats dangle from silks attached to the ceiling, while jugglers entertain partygoers. The theatrics are synced to the music for an all-sensory experience. Occasionally, women in giant bubbles or metal balls ferry bottles of alcohol to high rollers. It’s a nightclub experience unlike any other in the world.
Marquee at the Cosmopolitan is one of Las Vegas’ newer clubs, but it quickly has found its footing. It’s a great place to start and end the night. Begin in the main room, dancing under a disco ball, then head to the Boombox for a more intimate clubbing experience. The acoustics are unmatchable. When your feet begin to pound, transition to the Library to sink into a sofa and enjoy some conversation, then head outdoors for a breath of air and city views.
A couple tips to keep in mind no matter which club you choose: dress appropriately – for women, a cocktail dress and heels; for men, a collared shirt and dress shoes (no sneakers!). Arrive early, as lines get manic after 10 pm. And if a promoter promises you quick entry or VIP status, make sure to bring something in writing. Simply dropping a name at the door won’t work.