Famous parties from Las Vegas history
Famous parties from Las Vegas history
If New York is the city that never sleeps, Las Vegas is the city that never stops partying. From its earliest days (or, at least since it legalized gambling in 1931), the western city has been a popular destination among those looking to cut loose. And with one of the highest concentrations of nightclubs in the country, it continues to be the #1 going-out town in the U.S. to this day.
In celebration of America's best party destination, Stacker spotlighted 20 iconic parties and party venues from Las Vegas history. From over-the-top billionaire birthday bashes to the craziest celebrity bachelor parties, the tales of these blowouts are sure to make your jaw drop. Truly, you had to be there. But if you didn't get an invite to these legendary parties, that doesn't mean you can't throw an unforgettable gathering of your own. We've also included some of the most epic party venues for you to explore on your next trip to Sin City, from its most expensive club to its most unique.
Read on to get some inspiration for your next Vegas night out.
Pre-Prohibition partying in Las Vegas and beyond
One of the oldest bars in Vegas, Bar Prohibition! has been open since 1906. Over the years, it's been a popular destination for Wild West cowboys, a place for women to let loose in the 1920s, and even a Rat Pack haunt. Given its long and colorful history, it seems safe to say these walls have seen some crazy things. Located in the Golden Gate casino, current-day visitors can pop in for a drink with the ghosts of partiers past.
El Rancho was the first resort to pop up on the Las Vegas Strip. On its grounds was a venue called the Opera House, a restaurant with a full-sized stage. Tons of popular musicians performed here over the years—Sammy Davis Jr., Eartha Kitt, and Dean Martin, among others—making it one of the most popular party spots of the '50s. The property was demolished in 2000, so a night out here is no longer an option, but pictures illustrate just how exciting it was back in the day.
The Copa Room
Another epic nightspot that is now, sadly, gone is the Copa Room. Located in the Sands Hotel (demolished in 1996), the venue had one of the hottest stages in all of Sin City. It was, for years, the home of the Rat Pack and the Copa Girls and regularly featured performances from big names like Judy Garland, Lena Horne, and Nat King Cole. Despite being a smaller venue by today's standards, it was the place to be throughout the '50s and '60s.
Today, no one would bat an eye at seeing folks of all races, creeds, and religions partying together in one of Vegas' many clubs or casinos. But in the early part of the 20th century, that was untenable—at least until Moulin Rouge came onto the scene. The first racially integrated casino and club on the Strip, Moulin Rouge permitted both Black and white guests to dance, drink, and gamble on the same floor. Prominent Black performers like Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, and Sammy Davis Jr. regularly led the festivities.
You can't talk about famous parties and party spots in Las Vegas without mentioning the Teenbeat Club. Opened in 1962, the venue was the first teens-only club in the country and was a hugely popular dance and music venue for the younger set. A house band (also called the Teenbeats) entertained audiences nightly and made frequent appearances on the "American Bandstand"-style show filmed at the club throughout its six-year run. The venue shut its doors in 1968 but was hugely influential in developing a party-all-night culture in young adults.
The King of Rock 'n' Roll's wedding
As far as size goes, Elvis and Priscilla Presley's wedding is one of the smaller parties on this list. However, when it comes to lasting influence, their 100-person Monday morning ceremony more than earns its spot. The couple tied the knot at the Aladdin hotel (now Planet Hollywood) and followed their eight-minute ceremony with a champagne breakfast. In the decades since, thousands of couples have flocked to the pair's unusual destination to sign their own marriage licenses, often with an Elvis impersonator on hand (though that appears to be a thing of the past these days).
Paul Anka was a longtime fixture of Las Vegas' nightlife scene, but his commitment to ensuring partygoers had a good time rose to a whole new level in 1978 when he opened Jubilation. At 10,000 square feet, Anka claimed Jubilation was the largest disco club in the world. It might also have been the first club to use metal detectors on its patrons—a security check in the Wild West, as it were. According to Anka's autobiography, Anthony Spilotro (a famous mobster whose life is chronicled in the film "Casino") and his gang spent a good amount of time at the club, filling the time between jobs with dancing and drinking.
Frank Sinatra's grandiose return
In 1979, Frank Sinatra, who had ruled Vegas for years as a member of the Rat Pack, threw himself a 64th birthday party and celebrated 40 years in show business at Caesars Palace. Only 500 guests were invited to attend the formal bash, which lasted well into the night (as was typical of many events with which the crooner was involved). Several local outlets covered the party with vigor, excited by the magic of the man and the old-school glamour he brought with him.
Since 1985, Las Vegas has been home to the annual National Finals Rodeo. Sponsored by Wrangler, the rodeo is a 10-day event that includes competitions during the daytime and wild parties every night. Nearly every major casino on the Strip hosts a bash, and the Western fashion from competitors and spectators alike is always over the top. Some of these parties are open to the public, while others have a closed guest list, but attending any of the "after dark" events is sure to be a memorable experience.
Las Vegas is known by many for its EDM scene and for hosting massive events like the Electric Daisy Carnival. But none of that would exist if it weren't for the Desert Move party. In 1996, revelers hopped on a bus and headed into the desert about an hour outside Vegas' city limits to attend a pop-up daytime bash featuring sets from DJs and artists like Josh Wink, WestBam, and Pasquale Rotella. The event's success undoubtedly paved the way for the city's EDM scene to exist as we know it today.
Though Las Vegas has been hosting New Year's Eve parties since its inception, in the early '00s, the city rebranded the events, turning them into a more cohesive bash, dubbed "America's Party." The annual event takes place on Fremont Street and the Strip and includes concerts, a New Year's countdown, and a jaw-dropping fireworks show. Nearly 300,000 revelers attended the party in 2022, making it one of the biggest NYE extravaganzas in the country.
Paris Hilton's 21st birthday
Paris Hilton kicked off her five-day, five-city 21st birthday extravaganza at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. The heiress told V magazine the location was significant to her because she'd been going to Sin City for years with a fake ID, and this bash marked the first time she'd be partying here legally. Dozens of celebrities attended the event, which was played by her close friend DJ AM. StyleCaster estimates the multi-day party cost about $75,000 per person, and we're sure a big portion of that budget was blown here in Vegas, considering she rented out the entire club.
These days, pool parties in Las Vegas are a dime a dozen, but, believe it or not, that hasn't always been the case. Back in the early '00s, not many resorts hosted these daytime bashes, and the ones that did were pretty exclusive with the guest list. This is why Rehab changed the game when it opened at the Hard Rock Cafe in 2003. Originally intended for locals, Rehab became the place to be during the daytime and eventually attracted celebrities and tourists of all sorts. Many agree Rehab paved the way for the daytime party culture that exists in Vegas today, especially after the reality show that chronicled all of its debauchery ("Rehab: Party at the Hard Rock Hotel") hit the airwaves.
A double Hefner party
Playboy founder Hugh Hefner was known for throwing over-the-top themed parties during his lifetime. Many of those were at the Playboy mansion in Los Angeles, but Hefner occasionally took them off campus. For example, the publisher celebrated his 85th birthday and his son's 21st birthday at the Palms in 2011; while it wasn't as grandiose as some of his other events, it was still an exciting night with 31 Playmates and celebrities in attendance.
Jho Low's 31st birthday extravaganza
The name Jho Low may not ring a bell for many folks, but the Malaysian-born scammer is responsible for throwing what "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" host Robin Leach described as "the ultimate party." Before he disappeared following a stream of embezzlement-related allegations, Low threw himself a 31st birthday party in Las Vegas with a guest list spanning A-list invitees (Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, and Kanye West were all there) to Goldman Sachs bankers and Middle Eastern bigwigs.
The opulent bash took place in a converted airport hangar and included several carnival rides, performances from artists like Swizz Beatz and Britney Spears, and an impressive fireworks display. Several tabloids reported on the party, but many could not properly identify its publicity-shy host.
A moneyman's 70th birthday bash
In 2007, billionaire businessman David Bonderman threw himself a 70th birthday party at the Wynn. Reportedly, 700 of his closest friends were in attendance and were treated to performances from Paul McCartney, John Fogerty, and Robin Williams. Believe it or not, this wasn't the first lavish Vegas party Bonderman had thrown. He'd celebrated his 60th birthday at the Hard Rock with performances from the Rolling Stones and John Mellencamp.
If, like Paris Hilton, money is no object for you, consider partying at Drai's Nightclub. One of Las Vegas' newest nightclubs, the multi-level hotspot offers a $737,000 package that includes a 737 jet for you and 50 friends; a private, 210-second fireworks display; overnight accommodations at the Cromwell hotel; and more champagne than you could feasibly drink. While hanging at the club, you'll get to see sets from artists like 2 Chainz, Gucci Mane, Rick Ross, and other hip-hop artists. You're also likely to spot plenty of celebs hanging out in the crowd or at one of the venue's dozens of bottle service tables. Talk about an epic night!
Palms Casino Resort's Hardwood Suite
Las Vegas is one of the most popular party destinations on earth for young singles. In 2014, Maroon 5 musician Adam Levine followed that long and storied tradition by having his own bachelor party in Sin City. The weekendlong celebration included 50 guests and centered around the 10,000-square-foot Hardwood Suite in the Palms (which includes a full-sized basketball court and a dance floor). Given Levine's fondness for going out, we're sure the weekend was a wild one.
Wynn Field Club
Vegas can turn almost anything into a party, including a football game. At one end of the Raiders' new home, Allegiant Stadium, lies the Wynn Field Club, an 11,000-square-foot club owned by Wynn Resorts. A host of world-renowned DJs and artists play sets during and after home games, allowing fans to split their time between watching the action unfold (the club sits at field level) and dancing to their favorite tunes. It's a truly unique party experience you won't find anywhere else.
Katy Perry's pizza extravaganza at Zouk Nightclub
Celebrities make appearances in Vegas clubs all the time. Typically, while these parties can be super fun, they're nothing to write home about—the celeb in question sits at their table, sipping champagne, and shouting into the microphone a time or two while everyone else hangs out on the general admission floor. But once in a while, like during Katy Perry's 2022 appearance at Zouk Nightclub, they turn more memorable. At this specific party, Perry (literally) tossed pizza to guests, raining single slices of pepperoni and cheese down on the heads of inebriated partygoers. What a way to end the night!