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Behind the Scene … at XS: Drai’s 10,000 points of light are the shining hope for upscale Vegas nightlife

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XS, the new nightclub at Encore from Victor Drai, boasts opulent decor with stunning design touches like intricate mosaics in the bathrooms and a combination disco ball and chandelier.
Photo: Barbara Fink / Wynn Las Vegas

I was at LAX a night or two after one Pure Management Group exec said that the Tryst/Drai’s crowd had descended on them 180-deep, and unannounced. In a better economy that might be a cruel joke to play but in the week leading up to the holidays it’s more like a gift. Tonight, it is rumored that somewhere around 300 PMG employees are expected to arrive at XS en masse. Whether that will prove to be a playful jab back or a glorious tribute respectfully paid is anyone’s guess.

At XS’ door, locals will have to learn to put their egos on ice, at least for the first few Mondays and bide their time until the wheat is sorted from the chaff. Luckily, there’s plenty to look at while you wait. One is greeted with just a hint of Victor’s playful nature in the VIP hosts’ footwear (sneakers, though I hear they hurt; by the end of the night most will revert back to loafers) and in the coat check. Literally, it’s a gold coat with a large gold check mark in front of it. I don’t care how drunk you are, there’s no mistaking what goes on there!

Golden women in fabric line the entryway to XS.

Golden women in fabric line the entryway to XS.

But the frenzy at the door is nothing compared to what awaits inside where bodies smash together like salmon attempting to spawn, my red silk dress making swift my passage between them. Strangely, my dress is the only red in the place; absolutely none of Victor Drai’s signature color is to be found. Instead, the club is awash in cream, gold and sable brown. His personal obsession for lighting design shines through via 10,000 individual light sources and the angular lines of an “X” (my favorite letter of them all), along with the sinuous curves of the sexy, suggestive “S” are found throughout.

Really, someone should notify Victor that I plan to move in. The room’s flow—Victor’s favorite feature—is a vast improvement over bottleneck-y Tryst with wider avenues for traffic. Of course, this means more people will be let in, so really the effect is more of a suggestion than the new rule.

The XS pool at night.

The XS pool at night.

Air flow is never an issue what with the slowly waving reed fans and massive two-story glass windows and doors, which yawn wide to reveal the pool, island bar, five-table gaming pit, 30 cabanas and even more seating. During the day this space reverts back to the hotel for use as a European pool, but, says Victor, come about 6 p.m. it is once again his to control, but only for show. Guests at neighboring Botero steakhouse can also easily schmooze their way into XS after dinner. “We make them kind of VIP,” Drai explains, assuming of course that they are fashionable and worthy of that kind of special treatment.

“We have so much to offer guests,” said Drai, strolling last week around his new palace. “The pool … the restaurant … just one more reason to come to us.” Speaking about the then-nameless club two summers ago at Wynn’s Country Club restaurant, Victor said it would be his last, his pièce de résistance, his grand finale. It’s been a year of comebacks and retirement U-turns in the news, so we shall see about that.

Let’s talk about the perks: While 16 stripper poles leaves a lot of opportunity for embarrassing scenarios, it also means spontaneous pole antics from some of Vegas’ best exotic dancers, stage performers and instructors like Jenyne Butterfly who delights us throughout the evening with her flexibility and grace. Victor’s playful nature manifests itself once more in the restrooms, where two Pompeii-like tile mosaics of men sport strategically placed mirrors for primping in the ladies room and one of a woman reclines in the men’s room.

Located just across the hall, next to the Chanel store, is an elevator that takes you to the first floor of the Wynn (that’s right Wynn, not Encore) self-parking garage’s northeastern corner. Or, skip the elevator altogether and park on the second floor. The time saved meandering through the Esplanade is so much better spent at XS’ satiny gold bars, isn’t it?

And behind those bars, the sexy, larger-that-life relief casts of one very lucky Tryst cocktail server, chosen for this honor for having the ideal frame. Her nude torso seems to almost pivot to follow you as you cross the room. That prompts the question, “Shall we meet at the six-breasted bar or the eight?” The room too is stacked – in this case amphitheater-style with the focal point looking down and out. Or, from the dance floor or pool, in and ever up.

On the more critical side, one gent at our table nearly lit his suit jacket on fire when the hem came down right on top of a tea-light flame at our table. No real flames, suggested one industry chieftain. When seating runs short we plop down on the clear plastic stools that dot the place. I’m guessing they are meant to look like diamonds strewn about. While functional, they are not very comfortable or attractive; the same chieftain comments, “They look like cotton swab containers.” And then there’s the go-go dancers’ white panties…

Wildfire, Q-Tips and granny panties aside, I remain enchanted by the new room. Long and eagerly awaited, all eyes will now be on XS to see how she fairs, having boldly opened her doors on the last night of what many would agree has been a rough year all around. In a shower of Champagne, she was christened like a boat with 4,300 well-wishing souls in attendance to further give her a shove in the right direction.

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