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Rehab’s spring break-like party calls it quits for season

After 23 Sundays, the party phenomenon is coming to a close at the Hard Rock pool

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On any given summer Sunday, hundreds pack the pool at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino for Rehab.
Photo: Tiffany Brown

Rehab party at Hard Rock (2008)

Exposure: Vegas Daylife (VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED)

We know what you did this summer.

We saw you -- and we saw almost all of you -- sunning, strutting and shaking it every Sunday at Las Vegas' biggest, barest pool party, the afternoon fleshfest known as Rehab.

And since this Sunday is the last Rehab of the season, we've gotta say goodbye to the summer, with one last, long, lingering look.

Las Vegas Sun photographer Tiffany Brown spent several summer Sundays intrepidly documenting the wild wildlife in and around the Hard Rock pool. It took a while for the inhabitants to trust her (OK, it took about the time they needed to finish their first cocktail), and she captured their mating stances and dances on film and video.

These images may shock you. Or you may think they look like a mostly naked version of "Where's Waldo?"

For only 23 days each year, the daylong bash, now in its fifth year, maximizes and monetizes every drop of the 4 1/2 acres of outdoor space at the Hard Rock.

Management's not talking, but some reported estimates have it that Rehab soaked up $40,000 an hour last summer. With cocktails such as Jell-O Martini Sangria going for $20, seafood platters fetching $84 and cabana rentals starting at $1,500, it's easy to see how it adds up.

The Rehab phenomenon -- it's been dubbed "daylife" -- has changed travel patterns in this resort city, along with what people get away with wearing inside casinos.

Rehab equals Spring Break every Sunday for half the year, and these 21-and-over girls and guys have gone wild way before they get to the pool.

The party has an unspoken undress code: bikinis and high heels for women, shaved heads, six-packs and surf shorts for the guys. For both genders it's a plus, if not a prerequisite, to be tanned and toned and top-heavy.

Limousines pull up to the Hard Rock entrance, disgorging flocks of young women clad only in why-even-bother swimsuits, punishing shoes and waterproof makeup. Elevator doors open into the hotel, spilling squads of shirtless, jacked-up, tatted-out lunkheads into the lobby. Everyone has apparently already enjoyed an eye-opener or two.

The party begins at 11 a.m., but the line for Rehab begins forming by 6 a.m., and once the pool area (quickly) reaches its capacity of 2,000, the queue snakes far into the casino and becomes a party in itself.

Surrounded by rock formations and tropical foliage, the pool looks like a supersized version of your childhood terrarium, but in place of your pet turtle or frog, it's populated by squirming humans.

The females of the species totter around and around the perimeter, occasionally pausing in clusters or packs to stand under a misting spray.

Males tend to loll around the edges of the watering hole, apparently waiting and watching for the beverages to kick in, and the perfect moment to make their moves. The occasional male specimen will spread his wingspan and display his elaborate shoulder-wide tattooed plumage.

Conversation is minimal and mating calls must be shouted. The universal word‚ "Wooooo!" seems to convey a variety of meanings. The driving beat creates a palpable thump in the chest, making even the anthropological observer consider shedding his khakis and joining the fun.

It all begins again in April.

Joe Brown can be reached at 259-8801 or at joe.brown@lasvegassun.com.

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