If you’ve been to Vegas, you’ve heard about it or stood in line to get in. Marquee, the superest of the superclubs, sprawls over an astonishing 60,000 square feet. It allows you to party very, very hard. For just thousands of dollars! Would you like bottle service at one of our dance-floor tables? That’ll be another $10,000. How about a 30-liter bottle of champagne to share with a dozen women you’ve never met? $250,000. How about we get Kim Kardashian to come? $100,000. Devin Friedman explores the world, adds it all up, and explains the mysteries and the pitfalls of the hottest club on the planet
BY DEVIN FRIEDMANPHOTOGRAPHS AND VIDEO BY LAUREN GREENFIELD
11 P.M.: ONE SATURDAY NIGHT IN APRIL, BRINGING THE SHITSHOW
When you see the entrance to Marquee at 11 P.M. on a Saturday, you know why the promoters call this process “bringing the shitshow.” Massing out front were, by my estimation, at least 2,000 people. Packs of Asian bachelorettes sucking on cock-and-balls lollipops. Pods of probably either Libyan or Italian princes of the overclass in blazers and exposed solar plexuses and calfskin loafers and Adrian Grenier knit caps. Teams of 29-year-old white men in untucked dress shirts and heavy cuff links who stood stunned mute by the endless throng of women wearing almost identical vagina-length dresses that perpetually seemed on the verge of revealing at least, at least, a butt cheek—though by some invisible force above the hemline never, never ever did. It wasn’t just for show, either, this massing of people. Las Vegas isn’t New York, where part of the social psychology is the difficulty of entrance. “We don’t do a door-hold just for the sake of doing a door-hold, so we can look busy,” one of the owners had told me. Inside, they were already at capacity.
A series of velvet ropes tranched the guests into classes—extreme VIPs, semi-VIP hot ladies, unrich ladyless dudes who probably wouldn’t get in before 2 A.M. I guesstimate the general-admission line was a quarter mile long, stretching past the Cosmopolitan hotel’s curated “shopping experience” and into a recessed hallway of Pentagonian proportions.
At Tao Las Vegas, the Champagne Fairy (yes, that’s her
job title) delivers a $1,500 bottle of premium bubbly
to a VIP.
This was maybe the sixth or seventh night I’d been to Marquee. On other nights I would show up before the club opened, so I could observe the hidden machinery and ascertain how the people who run the place go about manufacturing the communal fun-gasm that made Marquee the highest-grossing nightclub in Las Vegas and very likely the universe. But tonight I was with a bachelor party, and in honor of the occasion we’d decided to avail ourselves of a table reservation. A table reservation requires guests to spend between $1,000 and $10,000, depending on the night, and among its perks is access to a special line. The table line is the line you’re supposed to see from other lines and think: Why am I not in that line? Or: Why didn’t my boyfriend get me into that line?
A trim woman wearing smart business attire and a clear Secret Service earpiece greeted me as if she had been waiting all night to see me. She had a tiny envelope with my name on it, and into this tiny envelope she deposited my driver’s license and credit card. She then passed the envelope to a man in a dark suit, a VIP host, who shook my hand with similar warmth. All the suited functionaries at Marquee that night treated me as if I were an important business partner in a business where important business partners may or may not be bought prostitutes.
An elevator car with glass walls, lit like a lounge, was waiting. The desperate sounds of human beings begging doormen and imploring homeys to hurry up because I’m waiting for you at the entrance, son, were silenced by the shush of the closing doors. A woman in a white short-sleeve shirt, whom you might call an elevator host, pressed a button on the control panel and then began a speech prepared to last precisely the duration of one elevator ride to the fourth floor.
Hello, gentlemen, she said. My name is Laura. When you step out of the elevators, you will find our Boom Box bar, down the stairs. Upstairs is the Library, our exclusive lounge. And just outside, you’ll find our main level. There is a bar straight ahead, and to our right the dance floor, where your table is. Benny Benassi will be DJ’ing tonight. We have 60,000 square feet of nightclub. Our outdoor space is open. Roam the club. Find some ladies. Bring them back to your table. The elevator jostled us gently as it stopped. Welcome to Marquee, gentlemen. Your party starts…now.
11:45 P.M.: THE MAIN ROOM, CLUSTERFUCK DAY, SHITSHOW HOUR
Part of the branding concept at Marquee is: Overwhelm the guest. And when we walked into that main room, we were indeed overwhelmed. Like it physically drew the air from our lungs and then replaced it with something that felt and tasted like vaporized Red Bull. The room had no visible ceiling. It was a clamshelly cavern of a place that glowed reddish and pulsed, with a dance floor at its focal point, layers of bottle-service tables perched around it, and a forty-foot LED screen above the DJ stage. The sound system cost $1.5 million and was built to rock a space as big as Madison Square Garden. Facing the speaker arrays was like walking into a strong headwind.
Promoters stock Marquee with lots of chicks in tiny
dresses. If you’re “elite,” you can drink for free with
At our table, our VIP host handed us off to Joe, our semipersonal security guard. Joe wore the same suit and earpiece that all our assorted hosts wore. He told us how pleased he was to hang with us tonight and then stepped back into the human flow-stream, crossed his arms, and waited for a chance to protect us.
At the same time, a team of men in all black, like the people who change sets in off-Broadway plays, arrived at our table with the parts of our movable bar unit: a two-tiered silver tray for cut citrus, several carafes of mixers, and finally, a bowl of ice embedded with glowing battery-powered ice cubes, carried by a man with an LED flashlight in his mouth to further illuminate the thing as if it were bearing the Heart of the Ocean (from Titanic). Our waitress, Jessica, gave us a menu. We chose what it seemed like we were supposed to choose, a $950 bottle of Grey Goose vodka identical to the $950 bottle of Grey Goose vodka that every other table had. When Jessica disappeared into the gyrating throng, Joe approached.
“Do you just want to sit back and chill?” he said to us. “Or do you want me to go find you some girls? Do you have any preference on girls?” What were the five of us—four married, one affianced—supposed to say? I would like someone without any of the hepatitises? I would like someone who will get impossibly turned on when I’m taciturn at cocktail parties?
Later another security officer would tell me, “Some guys get racial and say, ‘I only want Asian girls’ or ‘white girls.’ Or they’ll be like, ‘We only want blondes’ or ‘brunettes.’ But a lot of guys say, ‘We don’t care, just bring us some sluts.’ ”
Read original article from GQ.com here
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