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Nightlife

Into thin air

Vanished from the nightlife landscape

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The piranha tank at Piranha Nightclub.
Larry Edwards

“What do you mean they’re gone?” I don’t often find myself chit-chatting about Vegas’ aquatic citizens, but there’s no denying it—the piranha tanks at Piranha Nightclub are piranha-less. As it turns out, rivalry runs deep among this town’s handful of gay clubs, bars and lounges. Someone turned in the fish! Piranha bills itself as “Las Vegas’ best gay nightclub and celebrity hideout,” and while Britney and Janet can pop in and out at a moment’s notice, it seems that some exotic pets were hiding out as well. It got me thinking about what else might be missing from the nightlife scene that has escaped our notice.

Saturday, November 29, 12:45 a.m.

It being Black Friday, I had a reasonable expectation of finding a party, but this is crazy. Still high on the fumes of shopping-season traffic and wild-eyed with victory for having gotten through the velvet ropes, Tao’s crowd is feverish. Not the mean, pushy-shovey kind, but the drunk-on-life-and-vodka-cran variety. Think: giggly toddlers. Honestly, if there’s a slow season or a financial crisis going on, it’s not readily apparent here. I trot along behind these whirling dervishes as they announce their presence to the club with whoops and squeals of party patronage.

I, on the other hand, am a woman on a mission. No, I have no idea what ever happened to the gueridon carts that were intended to serve cocktails tableside at Teatro, and Triq Nightclub wasn’t really around long enough to be missed. But rather on the sly, other features and details have been dematerializing as well.

In September of 2005 I wrote of Tao’s opening-weekend celebrity contingent: “They’re everywhere: in the booths, at the bars, in the stairwell and on Celebrity Island, an elevated concrete platform surrounded by a serene moat.” Wait, what moat?!

Not even six months after the opening, says Tao Group’s Mike Snedegar, the moat went bye-bye, an operational decision he says yielded all the more room for those fabulous celebs to kick up their Choos. Funny thing is, even with the moat a hazy memory (along with many) in the minds of VIP hosts who can actually remember that far back, the elevated stage is still affectionately referred to as the Moat VIP and as Celebrity Island by many of its denizens. So catchy is the moniker that Team Hangover member Jack Colton (a near-resident on Celebrity Island) reports that Lavo’s stage, too, is called the Moat, even though there never even was a water feature there to begin with.

With the go-go girls bouncing what genetics and doctors have blessed them with high above the Island, it’s clear that no one misses the Moat, and the crowd has gratefully settled into every available nook and cranny, whether aboriginal or newly created.

Not far away at Palazzo, I continue my inquiry at SushiSamba and Sugarcane. But it’s not late-night dining I seek (although with the current economic situation, that’s getting harder to find). No, I’m looking for the ceiling. Or, more specifically, what should be hanging from the ceiling.

Following Sugarcane’s series of soft openings, I wrote: “Above, 9,743 tubes and lanterns of glass, paper and wood dangle like stalactites and are meant to represent the lounge’s sweet namesake.” Whoops! No tubes. At Sugarcane’s grand opening on September 19, I was informed that a tip had been called in that the fancy ceiling had not been checked out by the fire marshal, and that, as they say, was that.

In their stead, long, beaded pendants hang down, revealing the naked grid the tubes once hung from. The club actually closed early tonight for lack of the kind of critical mass Tao is experiencing next door at the Venetian. But a source reports there is talk of extending Sugarcane’s diminutive stage and adding a burlesque show. T&A just might save the day!

So what of fish dish back at Piranha? “The main thing is that the piranhas found a safe home and that they’re being care of,” says a rep for Piranha’s piranhas. “We’re going to continue to visit them at Mandalay Bay [Shark Reef] and take care of our new fish.” I’m getting that warm ’n fuzzy holiday feeling already.

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