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December 18, 2014

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Las Vegas leaders consider forming entertainment council to address mega-nightclubs

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DJ Calvin Harris at Hakkasan Las Vegas at MGM Grand on Saturday, June 8, 2013.

Will.I.Am Spins at Marquee

Will.I.Am spins at Marquee in the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012. Launch slideshow »

There’s growing concern at the now-obvious effect that mega-nightclubs are having on Strip shows. Ticket brokers are demanding steeper discounting. Audiences are slipping to the point of several shows being no longer profitable.

Major productions are hiding the fact that they’re selling only 50 percent of their seats. Even Cirque du Soleil shows are affected, with some tickets being widely advertised as low as $50.

Producers of several recently shuttered shows tell me candidly: “It’s getting slowly impossible to make a profit from a show in Las Vegas. That’s why you’re seeing a proliferation of solo performers and comics. No cast to pay. No scenery and stage crews.

“The hotels looked at mega-clubs as a golden egg, but those crowds shelling out steep admission prices and highly expensive bottle service, sometimes running upwards of $5,000, don’t have any money left over for shows or gaming.

“It used to be tourists would book two or three shows on a visit here. Now we’re lucky if they see one. In years gone by, visitors would dine out every night, but now many are lugging in their own ice chests with drinks and food or buy burgers in fast-food places in town. Restaurants also are changing over from fine dining into casual, cheaper, pub-type menus.”

The concern that Las Vegas shows might disappear and harm the image of this being The Entertainment Capital of the World and change it into The Nightclub Capital of the World has prompted action.

I’ve learned that four Las Vegas leaders in various show-connected positions have discussed the formation of an entertainment council to recruit key hotel and show executives. They want to find creative solutions to the potential problems and see if cooperation can help entertainment, shows and stars deal fairly with the economic impact of nightclubs and their patrons.

“We’ve got to get back to the intimacy of original, classic Las Vegas entertainment. The close-up factor. The superstar names. Where is today’s Rat Pack performers instead of unknown DJs playing other people’s music,” said one of the entertainment council advocates. “If we don’t change it soon, Las Vegas may never be the same again.

“Our town was filled with almost 200,000 electronic dance music fans last weekend, and only a handful of them went to see a Las Vegas show. There were too many empty seats in our theaters.”

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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Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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  1. Maybe if I didn't have to pay a pointless resort fee, I would have some extra cash in my pocket to see a show...

  2. Okay, that's a massive oversimplification of the problem. There are many, many reasons that the shows are suffering. First and foremost is that there are a LOT of really bad shows out there. They can't give away tickets to many of those shows. And Cirque is it's own worst enemy. They have oversaturated the market. Once you've seen a couple, they all start to look the same. After seeing several other Cirque shows, I finally saw O a few months ago. It was boring! I guess it would be okay if you had never seen a Cirque show, maybe. Honestly, there are very few shows currently in Vegas that I would pay to see. It only takes a couple of bad experiences at bad shows to turn people off. They've got better things to spend their money on. And if we get one more idiotic "hypnotist" or ventriloquist act, I think someone should call the entertainment police and have them all thrown in crappy show prison. Vegas, and the people behind these bad shows, are doing it to themselves. So don't try to lay all the blame on nightclubs. That's way too easy.

  3. 1. Las Vegas night clubs should be open to more DJ's THAT ACTUALLY HAVE SKILLS AND ARE ACTUALLY USING THE EQUIPMENT AND NOT JUST PLAY A PRE RECORDED SET. Just because you're name is known on MTV doesnt mean you dont have to actually do the work. I remember when I went to see Scribbles play at Studio 54 when it was in MGM and his mixer and cdj's were off HAHAHA. WTF?

    2. Why should we pay 60 dollars to go in to hear a lame DJ play (see above)? Were already paying enough with the resort fees. If you do that, see how much money you make.

    3. Why does a bottle of Bud Light at a "mega club" cost 18 FRIGGIN DOLLARS!!!???

    4. Why are celebreties host to said clubs? WHO CARES???!!!

    5. HAVE MORE VARIETY OF MUSIC IN EACH CLUB!!... WHy does it have to be ONE dance floor and ONE DJ?

    Promoters: dwell on these issues. Fix them and watch your club be a hit.

  4. I've always felt that the shows aren't all that they are cracked up to be and tend to be fairly expensive. I think this is just the marketplace voting with its dollars. I've only seen one or two shows that I would actually like to see again (The Rat Pack is Back is at the top of that short list). Also most of the show goers tend to be adults and don't often represent the younger generation.

    I am not a night club fanatic either, unfortunately.

    Clearly, I think there is a huge opportunity for the resorts to attract a certain clientele that aren't interested in listening to techno music, are done gambling, and who've "been there, done that" in regards to the shows...

  5. Those who would see shows(families & 40+) dont have the expendable income they used to. However newly working professionals(25-35), who grew up when dance music was becoming big, prefer to spend their money in clubs, drinking and dancing. I don't necessarily believe that "times are changing" but cash flows are merely being directed in different directions given the economic climate we currently reside in.