Las Vegas, NV – Anyone who’s traveled to Las Vegas has likely been to — or at least heard of — Drai’s Beachclub and Nightclub. Located on the rooftop of The Cromwell hotel right on The Las Vegas Strip, Drai’s is nestled neatly near Caesars Palace, the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino and several other historic Las Vegas landmarks.
Over the last 25 years, Drai’s has become the premiere destination for Hip Hop/rap and R&B, hosting a slew of famous faces, including Lil Wayne, Future, Kendrick Lamar, Lil Baby, Big Boi, Jeezy, Pusha T, Wiz Khalifa, Gucci Mane, Fabolous and Rick Ross. To mark its 25th anniversary last month, French Montana and T.I. showed up for back-to-back performances as part of the club’s “Drai Day” celebration established in June 2017. The event was preceded by the start of Chris Brown’s residency, which kicked off on June 11.
Founded in 1997 by French film producer/entrepreneur Victor Drai (Weekend At Bernie’s, The Woman In Red), the club originally served as a restaurant before evolving into one of the most in-demand after-hours spots in Sin City. Now helmed by Drai’s son Dustin Drai, the club continues to thrive under his leadership as the head of entertainment. Speaking to HipHopDX in a recent Zoom interview, Dustin talked about how his father was successfully able to make the transition from a restaurant to nightclub.
“When he moved [the restaurant from Los Angeles] to Vegas, obviously it was a successful and booming restaurant, but at 11 o’clock, it was dead,” Dustin explained. “And one day, a couple promoters came to him and said, ‘Hey, can we use your venue for our after-party? We have a party that we’re doing until midnight and we have nowhere to go after. We don’t want to go to strip club. You have a beautiful venue, your restaurant’s closed 11, so can we come and do an after party there?’
“And he said, ‘Sure.’ The after-party was a huge success and it brought the idea to his head like, ‘Whoa, what if I used my venue for a club after the restaurant closed?’ And that was the natural progression of how after hours started.”
Around 2014, Victor had the idea of restoring nightlife back to what it was before the DJ craze but, as Dustin explained, he quickly realized that wasn’t going to work.
“What the team did was say, ‘OK, let’s try and find some DJs,’” Dustin said. “Maybe they’re not the most expensive DJs at the time, they’re not the Tiestos or wherever of the world, but let’s find and provide some good music.’” But that wasn’t going to work either.
“At that time, and still even somewhat today, people are interested in who’s popular in whatever the big name DJs are,” he added. “Slowly, the team started to transition into Sunday night with big room Hip Hop. With that, they started peppering in some performers who were doing what the old school way of doing a Hip Hop show was — two or three songs at the venue.
“And right away, my dad said, ‘No, if we’re going to do this, it needs to be a full hour long show. We’re going to do performances. We’re going to focus on live performances and we’re really going to give the customers something different than just an artist coming in and doing two songs.’ By New Year’s Eve, 2015, within six months, we had decided, ‘OK. Our model is going to be live entertainment.’ That’s really what we pride ourselves on.”
Seven years later, Drai’s consistently hosts full-length live performances with residencies by top artists. But despite being hugely successful, Drai’s still considers itself a “mom and pop type of venue and operated business.” Upon walking into the venue, it’s immediately clear how much pride Drai’s takes in treating every patron with care. The pool area alone is captivating with its red-and-white decor, poolside cabanas and bungalows, plentiful palm trees and crystal blue water. Coupled with the impeccable service and attentiveness of its staff, it’s basically impossible to have a bad time.
“Even though we have over 500 employees that work between the beach club and the night club and the after hours, we still operate as a mom and pop spot, which allows us to really connect with our staff and really show them and teach them that we want that experience to be put onto the guests as well,” he said. “We want the guests to come in here and feel that it’s a warm and great experience and they’re here to have a good time and that our team is here to help them have a good time. We’re here to give them the best possible experience.”
As for Drai’s Nightclub, that’s something that needs to be experienced first-hand. Most recently, the club hosted its annual Fourth of July celebration, which boasted performances from Jeezy, Ne-Yo, Gucci Mane and Rick Ross. It’s also not uncommon to see celebrities enjoying all Drai’s has to offer on any given day of the week.
Quincy Jones, Timbaland, Rihanna, Paris Hilton, Kourtney Kardashian, Nicki Minaj, Kevin Hart, Rick Ross, 50 Cent and more who have performed or partied at Drai’s in both Los Angeles and Las Vegas. There have been several exclusive events at Drai’s as well, including E! Network’s Oscar Viewing and After Party in 2010, Jones and Chris Brown’s “Thriller” Night in 2015 and the Billboard Music Awards After Party in 2016.
“If Drais can be around for another 25 years, I think it would be an amazing accomplishment and would I love for that to happen? Yes,” Dustin concluded. “Am I going to do everything in my power to continue to have the business be successful and continue to be around? Of course. That’s a no brainer. But am I hoping that over the next 25 years, I can turn it into this amazing, huge, hospitality company? Sure.
“If it happens great, if it doesn’t, then we’re still what we are today — an amazing venue that people are talking about forever. I think that would be awesome as well.”
For upcoming events and more information, head here.