Drai's, a new nightclub in Las Vegas, is offering a package that costs $737,000 and involves a private jet – it's another sign of how the city is inverting the laws of clubland
This Thursday, Las Vegas welcomes a new superclub to its glittering lineup of aspiration hubs: Drai's, a 65,000 square foot beast 11 storeys up in the air, featuring swimming pools, private cabanas and presumably a lot of generic EDM.
But its ostentation reaches new heights according to the newly leaked menus - reportedly obtained by Vegas Seven - which feature deals a little different from your average BOGOF on cherry VK. The most ridiculous of all is a package costing $737,000, which gets you a private 737 jet for you and 50 friends, a 210-second firework display, accommodation, and a lot of champagne. For $250,000 you can get the same jet treatment for eight friends – but unfortunately the firework display is only 150 seconds long.
Elsewhere on the menus are champagne bottles purely for spraying on each other at $2,000 for 10, jet-free firework displays that start at $9,000 for 30 seconds, and a $10,000 package of seven bottles of Dom Perignon which comes with its own "custom lightshow presentation", very likely the manchild equivalent of a restaurant bringing out a birthday cake and candles.
All of which is the same blend of disgusting, laughable and shamefully desirable that has long characterised Vegas since the Rat Pack era, but even more monied. These new clubs are the kinds of places where a gambler can offer Deadmau5 $200,000 to play a Bon Jovi song, and he'll do it; where $100,000 was left in a brick of cash in the same DJ's complimentary suite after each show of his 2012 residency, where he made, according to casino owner Steve Wynn, more than Sinatra did at his peak.
These megabucks have been there for big DJs since the dawn of superclubbing and Ibiza's shift from bohemia to brohemia. The difference now is that the money is seeping onto the dancefloor, and clubbing is shifting, at least in its new gold-rush prospector towns, away from being inward-turning and towards being outward-facing.
For example, VIP areas used to be segregated, but now they fringe the dancefloors: they are showrooms for conspicuous consumption that demand the excluded keep dreaming, and where you'll need to spend vastly inflated sums on 'bottle service' alcohol to gain entry. Nightclub owners can thank rappers for making bottle service an essential status symbol rather than a ridiculous construction – take Nicki Minaj in her recent Lookin Ass, where she regards with utter disdain the men who only have one bottle to share.
Even the EDM played in these clubs is an outward-facing music. These producers' innovation was to take the negative space of dubstep's bass and populate it with shiny midrange. In so doing they made the perfect soundtrack for the simplified human impulses of Vegas, where monophonic emotional peaks and troughs map onto the bored/happy binary that keeps people going back for more Moët.
Anyone who's been to a halfway decent club can see that this is all antithetical to the true spirit of dance culture, where it's the music that is rich, where there's fraternity rather than class friction, and where sex is serendipitous rather than gamed. Vegas is so stratospherically rarefied it's unlikely to affect everyday clubbing too drastically, except that bottle-service VIP culture is now increasingly appearing in cities around the UK. While wealth rarely trickles down, aspiration does, and can erode what makes hedonism so emancipatory; Vegas behoves us to remember that at their best nightclubs are about the interior worlds of art and camaraderie, rather than the exterior world of money.
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