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Reaping a new harvest: Boutique performance space replaces Sugarcane Nightclub

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Sushi Samba’s SugarCane! Live lounge in the Palazzo.
Photo: Erik Kabik/Retna/www.erikkabikphoto.com
C. Moon Reed

Yes, Vegas just lost a nightclub. But in its place emerges the svelte, intimate 250-seat live performance venue called Sugarcane Live! (Think of Sugarcane, but now with padded chairs and a stage). You might be thinking this is one hell of a time to be opening a theater, but considering how many performance venues are closing (Forty Deuce, Folies Bergere, The Comedy Stop at the Tropicana …), Live! should actually be a welcome addition to the Strip.

Sugarcane Boutique Nightclub arrived on the scene on August 15, 2008, and immediately dove into a five nights per week schedule. But as time passed, those nights were picked off one by one—including the poised-to-kill-it Wednesdays originally helmed by One Global’s renowned Marc Jay—until only Friday and Saturday were left. Even on those nights, Sugarcane was observed as being closed well before 1 a.m., when most nightclubs are just hitting their stride. As there is nothing sadder than an underused nightclub (especially when it’s as beautiful as Sugarcane), cue the repurposing and reopening!

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From the Archives
Poof! They're gone (12/04/08)
... And Sugarcane makes seven (3/6/08)
Beyond the Weekly
Sugarcane Live!

With Live!, the idea is to “take Sugarcane and make it into a food and beverage showroom,” says managing partner Matthew Johnson, who has experience turning nightclubs into performance venues. (He transformed the Kit Kat Club in New York into a Tony-winning Broadway Playhouse.) Planning to host comedy and music, Live! aims to fill the small-venue niche that the Joint at the Hard Rock Casino vacated when it doubled its capacity, competing more so with Wasted Space and the like.

Andrew Dice Clay at Sushi Samba's SugarCane Live! in the Palazzo.

Andrew Dice Clay at Sushi Samba's SugarCane Live! in the Palazzo.

First at bat, bad boy comedian Andrew Dice Clay has successfully filled $65 seats. However, considering the venue’s small size (less seats = less profit), the main challenge will be to find the balance between name and price point.

After a crowded Sunday night show, Adam Steck, show producer and CEO of SPI Entertainment, said that they would walk the line by “looking for acts that want something unique [in a performance venue].”

He envisions performers such as Neil Young, Jewel and Chris Cornell signing on to play the boutique venue. For the larger names, ticket prices could hover around the $150-$200 range, and may include meet-and-greet packages. But for now, expect to see intimate performances from the likes of Boyz II Men and Alanis Morissette.

Elaborating on the “food and beverage showroom” concept, Johnson imagines his venue being like a supper club. But since Live! is so new, the role food will play in the big picture is still uncertain. According to Steck, most performers dislike the smell of food. Lest we forget, the venue is connected to Sushisamba. Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in the order of supper club priorities: a little supper, then a little club. And someone could always crack a window.

Additional reporting by Xania Woodman.

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