Could Las Vegas Really Become the ‘New Ibiza’?

With the arrival of my EDC Las Vegas ticket package and the buzz about the opening of club season in Ibiza, I’ve been mulling over this tagline that was being throw around a bit in April and March that “Las Vegas is the new Ibiza”.  The idea is related to an interview that Paul Oakenfold did with Vegas Seven on the topic of the genre shift from Commercial Hip-Hop to EDM in the club scene in Las Vegas over the last 5 years or so, in which, he said that it we are beginning to see a certain similarity in the two scenes.

The comparison is certainly useful in the context that he gives it when he says he describes Las Vegas as “like Ibiza” to his inquiring British friends back home but I think the assertion that people have made that Las Vegas is somehow on its way to replacing Ibiza is a gross overstatement of that comparison.

© Al Powers, PowersImagery.comPrivilege Ibiza_croppedImage Left: Hakkasan Nightclub, Las Vegas | Image Right: Privilege Nightclub, Ibiza

From a certain perspective, we can see congruencies in the existence of these massive super clubs that have the ability to host crowds of 4,000 or more and who sport weekly or monthly superstar DJ residencies.  The newly-minted Hakkasan Nightclub, for example, made headlines with its multi-floor layout and its unbelievable list of resident DJs including legendary names like Tiësto, Deadmau5 and Hardwell.

One could make the surface argument that this type of experience is comparable to the type of clubs you find in Ibiza like Privilege, which boasts a 10,000 person dance floor capacity and a weekly residency with Armin Van Buuren, or like the Ushuïa Beach Hotel who hosted the members of Swedish House Mafia each week for all of last summer (and the entire trio once a month).

Ushuaia lights croppedushuaia-ibiza-beach-hotel_CroppedImages : Pool and courtyard at Ushuïa Beach Hotel, Ibiza

I said that the idea is a bit of an overstatement, however for a number of reasons that aren’t immediately apparent at a cursory glance, but come from having personally experienced both of these places.  The atmosphere and the energy on the island are absolutely integral to idea of the place.  There is passion and there is a love for the music that hangs in the air and brushes against your soul every time you walk through the entrance to the clubs where legends were born.  The stones under foot vibrate with an energy that fills you the moment you step off the plane onto the tarmac at the airport.  If the sounds of soaring synthesizers lift you up and your heart beats along with the kick drum, this place is your Mecca and you deserve to make that pilgrimage at least once in your life.

I met a couple who told me that they were in Ibiza to get married and, to me, that sounded exactly like the type of place of positive energy and love that you should look for to mark the joining of two lives.  For comparison, consider the idea of getting married in Las Vegas and the comedic status we’ve collectively given it.  People elope to Las Vegas to get married in secrecy or they head to Las Vegas to celebrate their last days of bachelor(ette)hood before settling into responsibility (I’m sure we’ve all seen the $277.3 million dollar box-office hit The Hangover from 2009).

The place we’ve nick-named Sin City has got the money to supply club-goers with the biggest names in dance music and a flashy club experience but there’s something to be said for the fake-ness of it all as well.  There’s only so much gold-leaf or faux rock texture spray coating that can be applied to plywood and sheet rock to give the false impression of luxury.  In spite of the amount of money you pour into your booking budgets, you can’t build a genuine positive atmosphere in a place that venerates a lifestyle of excess and transgression above all else.  The bottom line is: Ibiza’s got a beating heart and soul and I’m not convinced that all the money in the world can ever buy that for Las Vegas.

Tony Apfelbeck
I grew up listening to BT, Armin Van Buuren, Paul Oakenfold, Paul Van Dyk and Tiësto. Trance and House music are my religion and I've got church every Friday and Saturday night.
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