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Strippers and hustlers are out, Oakenfold is in

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Photo: Jennifer Grafiada

If Saturday night was any indication, Vegas' collective taste is becoming a bit more European. Inside the Orleans Arena were a head-countable handful of women in nipple tape and platform boots, men in faux-fur top hats and fake bling, clusters of pretty, petite Asians in pin and, surprisingly, quite a few over-the-hill couples (Swingers? Retired porn stars? A creative Saturday night date?). I had expected hordes of nearly naked sex goddesses, booths and entertainment like at the AVN convention, but what I'd found was a tad lackluster. Maybe the real strippers and hustlers didn't feel like dressing up. Maybe they went to the Palms.

Perfecto at the Palms

Down Arville at the Palms is certainly where the cool kids were. They pressed against the velvet ropes at Rain, eager to experience the internationally renowned, European-import Paul Oakenfold spinning his first night as a resident DJ.

Oakenfold has been perfecting his craft for decades. His first influence was the Beatles; he listened to their records as a child. As a teen in the '70s, he snuck into Studio 54 where he got his first taste of nightlife. In the '80s he began DJing during the rise of the Harlem hip-hop scene. When he returned to the UK (his home country) to DJ in major nightclubs and on trips to Ibiza, the infamous Spanish party island, he developed his signature acid house, or trance style. He has toured globally, sold hundreds of thousands of albums and remixed songs by Madonna and various other artists. He is a welcome addition to the Strip, which often plays a steady stream of mainstream Top 40, hip-hop and rock. The N9NE group is seeking to shun the same-old and diversify the music played in their venues. While trance, house and electro music is wildly popular all over Europe and Central and South America, it has yet to catch fire here in the states. With superstar deejay Oakenfold as the emissary and in such a popular club as Rain, the trance addiction is sure to spread. “There is nowhere in America other than Las Vegas that I would want to be a resident DJ,” Oakenfold says. “It is the world’s oyster, and the Perfecto nights at Rain Nightclub are going to take clubbing to a whole new level.”

Paul Oakenfold @ Rain

Inside Rain, there were enough flashing lights, throbbing beats and swarms of eye candy to trigger an aneurism. The place had to be packed over capacity; every square inch was filled with inferiority complex-inducing flesh. Of the thousands, every last one was lost in the beats that Oakenfold generated from his lofty platform. Sweating, sexually charged and entranced, they danced with abandon in the dark. Oakenfold bobbed his thick hair to the vibrating, hypnotizing music while Cirque du Soleil-style acrobats swung from the rafters and crawled across the balconies. Enlivened glow sticks moved like creatures through a dark and different world.

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