The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Lifestyle

May 6, 2013

Casino bosses transform Sin City into Club City

(Continued)

During the heart of the recession, when overall Strip revenues tumbled by 16 percent, nightclubs saw more profit than ever. By 2011, Las Vegas was clubbing all the way to the bank, with Strip beverage departments earning more than $1 billion, and casino tycoons began remaking the Strip into the club capital of the world.

With extravagantly paid DJs, larger-than-life venues and billboard ads that stretch beyond the Strip to Hollywood Boulevard and Miami, casinos are trying to pull off a tricky balancing act: keeping the kitschy core that draws older generations while finding a way to make the city hip enough to attract a younger, big-spending set — emphasis on big-spending.

"We're not interested in competing against everyone to get the 21-year-olds that are going to spend little to no money and are going to clog up the hallways," Murren said.

The 10-minute taxi ride from the airport to the Strip takes visitors past dozens of billboards promoting top DJs from Holland and beyond. Celine Dion and Elton John now take their place on marquees alongside names that recall Internet handles, such as "deadmau5" and "Kaskade."

Las Vegas, long known for catching performers on the downswing of their careers, finally appears to have embraced a musical trend at the height of its popularity. Globe-trotting Dutch DJ Afrojack, 25, said he has come to consider the Strip his home because it's the one place he believes is as dance-music-focused as he is.

"When you exit the airport, you see (the face of President Barack) Obama — and then you see me," said Afrojack, a Wynn casino favorite.

Perhaps no place exemplifies the new culture on the glittery Strip better than XS. And for most wannabe Vegas party people, the night at XS starts in line.

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