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September 24, 2017

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Sean Dunn of The Act at Palazzo: We are your dirty little secret in Las Vegas


The Act Nightclub at Palazzo.

The Act Grand Opening in the Palazzo

Christina Hendricks, third from left, Michael Gladis, third from right, Malin Akerman, second from right, and guests at the grand opening of Simon Hammerstein's the Act Las Vegas at the Palazzo on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012.

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The Act Nightclub at Palazzo.

Editor’s Note: While Robin Leach takes his traditional summer vacation under the Tuscan sun and along The Amalfi Coast in Italy, many of our Strip personalities have stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. We continue today with Sean Dunn, who knows all about the shenanigans at The Act Nightclub in the Palazzo.

Las Vegas does an amazing job of selling the illusion of adult fantasy, anything-goes revelry and excess as the norm. The truth is Las Vegas likes safe — very safe, which catches a lot of people by surprise when they arrive. Hookers and blow are not actually on the room service menu; inconvenient, I know.

So it’s been an interesting journey for us in Vegas so far, since The Act Nightclub is internationally known for providing more reality than illusion. Being different isn’t easy, especially in a market saturated with a fairly monotonous and homogenized experience all about inclusion and turnstile spins. Vegas is an adult Disneyland — reasonably fun, but fairly safe.

That is where we diverge from the market. We strive to be all those bad decisions staring you in the face, that, deep down inside, you want to make and know you will be glad you did. We like to provide an experience tying all our guests in the room to one another on a very visceral level.

Creating moments that shock and awe in a way that pushes guests out of their comfort zones allows us to build a communal experience soon not to be forgotten. This isn’t a DJ and glow batons. This is one guest turning to another and asking, “Did that just happen?” The experience feels dangerous and a little wrong, but satisfying at the same time. We are your dirty little secret.

And that’s important for Vegas. Innovation and progression always require someone to get out in front of the masses and do something different. The Box shook up New York City nightlife seven years ago by blending boundary-pushing theater with a more earnest and genuine approach to an evening out.

Once past the debauchery and mayhem (which will be neither confirmed nor denied), it became clear there was intimacy and a human element that really made the concept work.

The performers, though shocking and usually sexual or perverse in nature, portrayed a sense of empowerment and vulnerability that the audience attached them to; this was entertaining and memorable for everyone, as well as unique, because this was in a nightclub.

And this concept is gaining ground. More live entertainment is being added to the production aspect in nightclubs because it is an amazing layer to the evening. But the shock and awe is still uniquely ours.

And it’s what Vegas needs to help balance out safe options. When people arrive here, they accept the inherent danger that comes with a city designed to send you home broke and broken. Hopefully we can help shift the paradigm in this city to become more progressive while making the illusion more reality.

We want to make Vegas less safe and more fun; otherwise, why not just go to Orlando?

Check out our other guest column today from singer and dancer Maren Wade and on Monday chef Akira Back (who this week opens Kumi at Mandalay Bay), Angela Stabile and Meeka of “X Burlesque” at the Flamingo and Robert Nash of “Raack N Roll” at The D Hotel.

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.

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