With Las Vegas expecting record crowds this New Year’s weekend, Sin City must make room for its revelers.
Headliners of all stripes and styles are seizing the moment to take stages all around town, and that includes several major hotel performances. Whether they’re opening a hot new nightclub or just partying with old friends, musicians all over the city want to make it a night to remember.
At the Cosmopolitan, the legendary Stevie Wonder is kicking off 2012 at the Chelsea, while a potential heir to the piano crooner throne John Legend will be onstage at The Pearl at the Palms, followed by an afterparty at Moon. Also on piano, Bruno Mars is playing The Bank at the Bellagio, while Chris Brown’s show at Pure at Caesar’s Palace will be set to the backdrop of the Strip’s fireworks show. And throwback alert: Vanessa Williams will be taking the stage at the Riviera, performing her favorite old R&B hits.
The rockers of Guns N’ Roses are finishing off their farewell tour with a two and a half hour set at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel—singer/rapper Drake will kick off 2012 with a performance the following day. If you like your rock a little more alt, Franky Perez is playing a set at Rocks Lounge at the Red Rock Hotel; their other venues are hosting DJ BKNY at Lucky Bar, and Latin dance group Toto Zara at Onyx. Turntables more your speed? Steve Angello (the house DJ and one-third of DJ trio Swedish House Mafia will be spinning all night at XS Nightclub at Encore. And if “Party Rock” is your anthem of the year, LMFAO is coming to Haze at Aria for the midnight show.
In clubland, House of Blues at Mandalay Bay goes punk for the evening, with performances by Old Man Markley and NOFX, while producer and rapper B.o.B. takes over LAX at the Luxor. Poptart Fergie opens up the new outpost of 1OAK at the Mirage, while bandmate Will.i.am is spinning at Surrender at Encore with DJ Ammo. And for one of the biggest tickets of the night, R&B goddess Mary J. Blige opens RPM Nightclub at the Tropicana. Many VIP packages have already sold out, but the hotels are planning on making these concerts a party—even the cheap seats are sure to come along with a good time.
If you haven’t had enough (or, let’s face it, are still up the next day) dance out your hangover at Hyde, the new club opening at the Bellagio at 5pm on Jan. 1 with DJ88 spinning, snacks from Circo, and a special show by DJ Paul Oakenfold.
“When you’re around people who aren’t completely sober, you see it all,” says Costas Charalambous, the senior vice president of sbe Entertainment Group, which oversees 13 nightlife venues across the nation. “I have stories all day long—that’s the fun part of my job.”
Raised on the island of Cyprus, Costas relocated to California for college, where he put himself through school by working in a variety of restaurants and nightclubs. After opening his first restaurant in Santa Barbara, he moved back to Greece, where he founded a nutritional supplements company. In 2002, he partnered with longtime acquaintance and restaurant and nightclub owner Sam Nazarian. Since then, they’ve opened an array of venues in L.A., Miami, and most recently Las Vegas, which will witness the grand opening of Hyde Bellagio on New Year’s Eve.“It will be the fourth Hyde nationwide, and will have a patio that overlooks the Bellagio fountains,” he says. “You can’t beat that location.”
Costas lives a dual lifestyle, working long days and nights, while spending as much time as he can with his wife and two kids. “I’m the guy in nightlife, and the married guy with two kids. The time with my family balances me, especially when I get into the office at 9am and work as late as 3am.”
With so many venues and employees to oversee, Costas insists that no detail or person can be disregarded. “The greatest lesson is talk to everyone, understand everyone, from the bottom line to the top person, try to learn from everyone. The moment you think you know everything, there are more aggressive people coming from the side. I always put myself in their shoes.”
As for trends in the nightlife industry, he maintains pioneer prestige. “What I don’t like, I try to change in the market. I always base myself on the consumer and that has been pretty successful for me.”
Although staying ahead of the curve is ambitious and can be downright exhausting, Costas contends that the pursuit is immensely satisfying. “As my projects grow, my days grow, but I’m proud of being able to juggle multiple projects, stay successful, and control the beast that is my job,” he says. “I’m proud of the people I work with and what we’ve accomplished.”
Hyde Bellagio (Strip: Central) – Villa-inspired nightclub designed by Philippe Starck and sbe. Opens New Year’s Eve. Party Renaissance-style.