In the past decade, the Las Vegas nightlife scene has popped in sync with the corks of so many champagne bottles. The city’s clubs regularly dominate the top 10 of the highest grossing — and most expensive — bars in America, with some properties, like XS at Wynn, bringing in over $100 million in revenue some years. Big profits mean big budgets for talent — Marshmello reportedly signed a two-year $60 million contract with now-shuttered Palms mega-club Kaos last year — enabling Vegas to land the top names in the game for residencies across town, from Calvin Harris to Tiesto to the aforementioned masked DJ-producer. With one of the world’s largest dance music festivals in the Electric Daisy Carnival relocating from Los Angeles to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2011, where it now draws crowds of more than 450,000 over three days each May, the city has firmly established itself as a destination market for electronic dance music with the club scene to back it up.
1. Drai’s Nightclub
While Vegas clubs have long booked live appearances from pop, hip-hop and R&B stars, this indoor-outdoor nightspot at the top of The Cromwell has made a name for itself by featuring full performances from said acts as opposed to abbreviated, 10-15 minute sets, which was once a Vegas tradition. With a constellation of disco balls above the dancefloor, Drai’s shimmers 11 stories above The Strip and has established itself as the leading club for hip-hop and R&B, with regulars like Big Sean, 2 Chainz, Lil Wayne, Migos and many others. Bottom line: Drai’s is a must-visit for hip-hop fans.
If personal space is your thing, Hakkasan might not be, as this popular, always packed club in the MGM Grand can feel like partying in a phone booth at times. It’s not for a lack of space: the multi-level nightspot boasts numerous different rooms, from its pulsating main dance area with luminous ceiling to the adjacent Pavilion, which boasts an outdoor vibe with an Oriental garden theme. Named the top nightclub in America from the likes of “Playboy” and “DJ Mag,” Hakkasan regularly hosts a who’s who of big-tent EDM superstars like Zedd, Tiesto and Calvin Harris. The names are big and your bar tab will follow suit, as drinks are pricey here. To get the most bang for your buck, though, there’s the Las Vegas Party Pass, new for 2020. At $99, it provides for unlimited access to up to 10 events at Hakkasan as well as fellow Hakkasan Group properties Omnia and the Wet Republic pool party Thursday through Sunday. If the goal is to immerse yourself in Vegas nightlife at its most outsized, this is a good place to start.
It’s not just bodies that move to the music here, but the actual club itself thanks to massive LED video screens that pulsate in sync with the sounds thundering from the DJ booth. While a sizable club with multiple levels, Jewel at the Aria boasts a more intimate vibe nonetheless due to a compact dancefloor that lends the room a more up-close-and-personal feel than many of its luxe, high-end counterparts. Though Steve Aoki is a resident here among other EDM DJ-producers, this is the place for hip-hop heads to head with DJ Drama, Tyga, Lil Jon and Tory Lanes among the regulars. For everyone else, Jewel offers the high-end club experience in a cozier, more navigable setting.
4. Omnia Nightclub
Arguably the most jaw-dropping visual flourish in a nightlife scene posited on eye-popping opulence is the 22,000 lb., eight-ringed, space-ship-looking chandelier that hovers above the dancefloor here like something straight out of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” It’s truly a thing to behold — pulsing with lighting effects and LED strips, moving in unison with the music — as is the club itself, from the Heart of Omnia ultra-lounge to the outdoors terrace overlooking The Strip. Occupying the space that once housed seminal Vegas club Pure at Caesars Palace, Omnia builds upon the rich legacy of that influential, celebrity-heavy hang with one of the city’s leading rosters of EDM prime movers including Calvin Harris, Steve Aoki, Tiesto and plenty more. What’s more, it’s the rare mega-club open on Tuesdays, and if you’re staying at Caesars, show your room key at the door for free entry on Thursdays and Sundays, excluding special events and holidays. It all makes Omnia tailored for those seeking the full-on, Vegas mega-club vibe with the most high-tech flourishes.
5. Light Nightclub
Initially featuring Cirque Du Soleil acrobatics high above the dancefloor, Light has since evolved into an open-format party spot, though aerialists still perform amid streams of confetti in the three-level club at Mandalay Bay. The music mix is populist and Top 40-heavy, with Light generally eschewing big name DJs. However, there is a frequent hip-hop bent here with performances by new and old favorites, from Lil Baby to Saweetie, Rick Ross to E-40. Not quite as popular as some of the other entries on this list, Light’s a good place to get a taste of Vegas nightlife without the longer lines of some of its counterparts.
6. Marquee Nightclub
One of the prime movers of the Vegas nightlife scene since opening a decade ago, Marquee’s marquee attraction is arguably diversity. The massive club largely features house music in its main room, whose decor is dominated by a four-story DJ booth and projection stage. In addition, there’s the aptly-named “Boom Box” room, which features a wider-range of sounds in close, cochlea-rattling quarters, and a V.I.P. lounge, “The Library,” which isn’t quite as hushed as its namesake might suggest, but still good for getting a bit of a breather in a nightspot designed to take your breath away. If you want a variety of club experiences in one spot, stop here.
Clubs come and go in Las Vegas almost as fast as the disposable income of tipsy tourists, though this long-running favorite at The Venetian is an increasingly rare exception, having opened back in the Paleolithic Era of the Sin City nightlife scene (i.e. 2005). With an Asian-inspired decor — think towering Buddha statues, koi ponds and, uh, the occasional bathtub filled with rose petals and beautiful women — Tao has established itself as a celebrity-heavy hang whose accompanying bistro remains among the highest-grossing restaurants in the country. Musically, Tao doesn’t chase the superstar acts that other nightspots do, though the club’s popular Worship Thursday series brings in notables like Vice and Mustard. Still, this has long been at the top of the list of Vegas clubs to see and be seen at.
8. VooDoo Rooftop Nightclub
A more affordable entry just off The Strip, the draw here is the view and the opportunity to live it up in Vegas without having to take out a second mortgage thanks to free entry Sunday-Thursday and before 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Located 51 floors above the street at the top of the budget-friendly Rio, VooDoo is aimed at more at casual clubgoers who want a taste of nightlife and gorgeous, panoramic glimpses of Vegas if not the long entry lines, big name DJs and hipper-than-thou atmosphere. Instead, you get flair bartenders and a more Top 40 vibe, while the glass elevator ride up to the venue on the outside of the hotel will be worth the trip alone for non-squeamish types. If you’re not a regular clubgoer, Voodoo is among the more accessible and approachable nightspots, which is central to its appeal.
The only thing not gold-plated at XS is the staff, as pockets need to be as deep as the pool outside to party here. Annually one of the highest-grossing nightspots in America, XS at Wynn Las Vegas is as lavish as they come. Yes, you can sip on a $10,000 cocktail — “The Ono,” made with uber pricey Rémy Martin Louis XVIII Black Pearl cognac — while taking in pyrotechnics worthy of a Kiss arena gig, with flames shot high above said pool. Inside, there’s over 10,000 individual light sources, creating an immersive womb of light and sound that doesn’t stimulate the senses so much as slap them upside the head. The talent here justifies the steep entry fees, which can start at $75 depending on who’s performing, with David Guetta, The Chainsmokers, Diplo, Kygo and Drake among the top-notch talent regularly soundtracking XS. Come here for Vegas nightlife at its most opulent and eye-popping.