Why have one party when you can have 10? The top talent on Wynn’s nightclub-artist roster, names such as Kygo, Diplo, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso, and The Chainsmokers, will say happy birthday to the decade-old XS Nightclub by conceiving their own monthly theme parties from April to December. The festivities kick off March 30 with DJ Snake.
“We’ve been planning this 10-year anniversary for over a year with the sole purpose of delivering 10 unique experiences,” says Alex Cordova, managing partner of Wynn Nightlife. “Every show will be different and curated by the artists to present the space in a new format. The point is to deliver a consecutive unique experience that has never been seen at the venue. This will ultimately conclude in December with a performance by one of the top artists in the world.”
And while the anniversary parties represent an exclusively EDM lineup, it was revealed last week after months of speculation that Drake would perform at the 5,000-person capacity XS for five dates in 2019. This signified what many have been predicting for more than two years — that the paradigm has once again shifted in the ever-evolving top party scene in the country. A statement released by the resort says “there will be a brand-new stage and a new production” for the venue, which for the better part of the last decade had been configured to put its EDM DJ–heavy talent roster center stage.
“Drake represents our commitment to delivering memorable experiences for our customers,” Cordova said. “There is a huge difference in seeing an artist with 20,000 other people in an arena or festival compared to a nightclub performance. It just feels so personal, and there isn’t a bad seat in the house.”
Sources say that admission fees for Drake’s visit to XS in January topped out at around $500 per person.
All of this would have seemed inconceivable a decade ago when the Las Vegas nightlife scene was a much different place than it is now. It was the tail end of the celebrity appearance era when billboards around the city promoted the names of reality stars such as Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian and Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt as the talent on their big weekends. They celebrated their birthdays and blew out absurdly designed cakes while the masses showed up to gawk and take grainy images on first-generation iPhones. While there was most likely someone playing music from the corner DJ booth, most in attendance certainly didn’t know his name. There was dancing, bottle and table service, and girls were definitely taking their shoes off to relieve the true sign of a good night out, aching feet.
But when XS Nightclub at Wynn Las Vegas opened in January 2009, it swept the scene with a different vibe: elegance and luxury. Conceived by Steve Wynn, nightlife impresario Victor Drai and head of interior design Roger Thomas, the insides were dripping in gold, from the banquettes to the statuettes. There were no advertised celebrity appearances — this was the place where A-listers actually came to party without a lens affixed on them.
After a performance at the two-year anniversary by Deadmau5, the popularity of electronic dance music found its stage at XS and in the subsequent years the biggest names in the biz all inked deals at the club: Tiësto, Avicii, Calvin Harris, David Guetta, Afrojack, Axwell, Steve Angello, Skrillex and Alesso, among others.
By 2015, Nightclub & Bar reported that XS was the top-grossing nightclub in America, with revenues over $100 million, with nowhere to go but up as night after night there were sellouts by the most popular acts in electronic dance music, including The Chainsmokers and Kygo, who Cordova brought onboard after he started in 2016. Sources say it continues to exceed that top position year after year.
“I cannot discuss specific numbers, but we all know from the historical press that XS has always maintained its position as a leader in the industry. It is incredible that after 10 years we have not skipped a beat. The venue to this day is arguably the top nightclub in Las Vegas with the best talent lineup in the world,” Cordova says. “I am celebrating my third anniversary of running Wynn nightlife this month, so I need to give credit to my predecessors who had the vision to create this timeless venue. The 10th anniversary pays homage to all that touched this venue and helped develop its legacy.”
Prior to Cordova’s tenure, Wynn Nightlife was separated into two groups — XS and Intrigue nightclubs were run by Jesse Waits, who departed in 2015 for James Packer‘s unrealized Alon; and Encore Beach Club and Encore Beach Club at Night were run by Sean Christie, who departed for MGM Resorts in late 2017.
“[Both groups] had both been profitable and set the industry standard in both daylife and nightlife spaces. My job was to bring everything together under one roof,” Cordova says. “It was a challenge to change seven years of operational standards in a short period of time. All the venues work together to mutually benefit each other. We’re much stronger and have a collective corporate and creative vision.”
It’s been an incredible trajectory for Cordova, who is originally from the East Coast and cut his teeth working in some of the industry’s legendary clubs. “As a promoter in New York City, I knew that nightlife didn’t have a limit,” he says. “I grew up hearing stories about Studio 54, Palladium and Danceteria, and I eventually worked for Limelight and Tunnel. I have always had this boundless vision of nightlife. What we provide is aspirational. I eat, breathe and sleep nightlife. It is the true passion of my life. Some would consider it to be an obsession. It started at age 16 and the fire I had as a teenager is still as ferocious at age 40.”
After coming to town in the early 2000s, Cordova spent more than a decade “across the boulevard” as an executive at Pure Management Group, then Angel Management Group and later Hakkasan Group — he oversaw the operations and marketing teams for some of the city’s other highest-grossing nightclubs and dayclubs. It was also during this era that nightlife became big business and Cordova was one of its innovators. Now venues make nine figures and talent can command seven.
“Vegas has always been the most competitive talent buying market. As the city has grown, so have the competitors,” he says. “Our job is to deliver acts that are at the forefront of popular music. Regardless if they are top of their class or on the rise, they are the hardest-working music producers and artists in the business. Their work ethic directly correlates with the continued successes of our venues.”
As evidenced by the Drake partnership, though, Cordova is focusing on diversification and securing new top-tier artists as well as providing entertainment that complements the resort-guest experience.
Overseeing all of the venues also helps Cordova program a successful strategy for the entire resort nightlife portfolio, which includes Encore Beach Club, EBC at Night, Intrigue and XS. And there are other announcements coming in the quest to retain the very best.
“Stay tuned, we have a couple more surprises this year,” he says.
Wynn Las Vegas XS Nightclub’s 10 Dates Over 10 Months schedule:
March 30 – DJ Snake
April 28 – KYGO – Nightswim
May 25 – David Guetta
June 7 – Sebastian Ingrosso and Steve Angello
July – Diplo
August – Alesso – Nightswim
September – The Chainsmokers
October – “WHITE COFFEE”
November – The Chainsmokers
December – Special Guest