Editor’s note: Louis Santiago Dong III, aka Ed SJC Park on Facebook, author of The Happy, Fun, Party Travel Guide to Reno: A Guide to Casinos, Bars, Restaurants, and Special Events in Reno and Sparks, immigrated from California to Reno in 1995 and frequents all of Reno’s drinking and partying establishments frequently. We asked him to write about his experience at last week’s soft opening of LEX Nightclub.
I should have known better
Perhaps I came for the free pizza and not the prospect of mingling with a crowd of Disney Channel-raised, obsequiously twerking, slightly damaged, lightly tatted ego fetishists. Am I being too hard? Was I not once a youth? Am I a pretentious char-aged barrel of a smug old fart with a frail smirk?
When they first announced LEX Nightclub at Grand Sierra Resort, perhaps it was marketing bluster, but the suggested cover price was $60. Maybe reality struck or someone actually visited Reno and they lowered the cover to $30, $15 for locals. Outside Friday and Saturday nights you can take advantage of a number of local specials and discounts by flashing your Nevada ID.
Without VIP credentials for the soft opening, I was relegated to pissing about the entrance, refusing to line-squat among a coagulation of hem-challenged, Forever 21-shopping party girls and barely acne-recovered boys. A line of hundreds blocked the entrance at 10 p.m. when they opened and after a trip home to write an excuse for not getting in, I returned to a line of around one hundred at midnight.
Whenever Reno gets something big from the big cities — Steak ’n Shake, Five Guys Burgers and Fries or if anyone remembers In-N-Out and Krispy Kreme — get ready for some serious line-waiting. Wait a few weeks and you’ll be good. LEX has become the new Steak ’n Shake in town, benefiting even more now that Rise and Bubinga Nightclub closed. Except in this case, LEX is a youthful miasma of bottle-service and electronic dance music (EDM) protuberance in the middle of our nightlife desert, bringing the Las Vegas club experience to Reno.
If you haven’t been to Vegas recently, it’s not about the buffets, tigers, showgirls or even a Canadian, blockbuster movie-anthem singing prima donna. It is all about the huge clubs, celebrity DJs and EDM synthesis of rave, techno, trance, dubstep and pop. You could even turn Beethoven into EDM with a fast fist-pumping, hard-driving bass beat, turn-table scratching and an assortment of electronic beeps, buzzes, whirls and woops.
Fact is, I was a trance and club fiend. I was one of the five people at the basement of Reno Live in the trance theme room (occasionally straying into the country, hip-hop and Top-40 theme rooms). Trance was like soccer, something the entire world indulged in except America unless it was at a gay club, underage rave or Burning Man. Yet so cruelly ironic that trance-like EDM became popular and I’ve become so old I refuse to wait in line to listen to it.
But it’s not just an indoor EDM concert or rave. Vegas exploited the narcissistic, ego-fetish, selfie-porn cult of modern youth invested in a rotational game of micro-celebrity enabled by tools like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Everyone wants to be a celebrity, at least a small one in their own circle of loose acquaintances. Instead of cops and robbers with half the kids playing cops and half playing robbers, they play “celebrity with the most likes” where one gets to be the celebrity and everyone else pretends to be adoring fans.
Because of this, the clubs elevated VIP status to aristocratic splendor and exclusion. By paying ten-times the retail value of a bottle of liquor, often more, you get to pass the peasant stockade in their winding TSA lines, sit in a booth and hang out among other “special” people. But don’t get carried away folks, paying $300 for a bottle of $29 Stolichnaya vodka means saving two hours of line-waiting and getting to sit down once in a while.
Keep in mind, the “Hangover” myth of hot women coming over to your table like some Japanese hostess club is exaggerated. Sure some clubs will bring over beautiful women to entertain you, but once you’ve sucked the last ounce out of your bottle, these ephemeral witches are gone as quickly as a stripper after the end of a song. To be fair to the clubs, you’re not really just paying for that bottle but a whole coterie of complimentary juices, ice and the occasional attention of a beautiful hostess who will mix and pour your drinks. Remember to tip her generously, she is after all your personal bartender.
After the buzz dies down I can assure you LEX bottle prices will drop and you too can afford to experience the anti-climax of being a VIP celebrity. But I would take full advantage: linger outside by the VIP entrance, troll the dance floor and invite women to your elevated perch, then twerk in the face of some unfortunate Axe-drenched wannabe who can’t retaliate because you have VIP security. It’s like all-you-can-eat sushi, go ahead, you bought that eighth roll, you might as well enjoy it.
But this is not my rite of passage. This is not my time to wait an hour in line, throw up, black out, pass out, piss on myself and wake up hoping to god I didn’t make too much of a fool of myself on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook last night.
But then again don’t we all still love to watch celebrities getting trashed?