The Living Daylife: Daytime Nightclub Operations
For several years now people have been arguing about Las Vegas’ status as a cocktail innovation destination. Some see Sin City as a hotbed of trendsetting mixology while others believe America’s Playground isn’t on the same level as NYC, Miami or San Francisco. What cannot be disputed, however, is that Las Vegas leads the way in next level daytime operations. One need only look at their dayclubs and poolclubs to see that Vegas operators are always implementing new and exciting ways to deliver the wow.
If you happen to operate a dayclub or poolclub already, awesome. And if your venue’s pool is situated on a rooftop, even better; sun worshippers enjoy being close to the most important star in our galaxy (which is not Kanye, regardless of how much he may tell us otherwise). Drai's Beach Club and Nightclub is the only rooftop pool party in town and people love it. But what about all of the lounges and nightclubs that don’t even have outdoor operations, let alone a pool? How can those operators do what Vegas does during the summer on a daily basis?
It’s easy to think of dayclubs as simple rebrands of already established pool parties but that’s too dismissive. Operating a successful daylife venue is not as simple as changing the hours of business and adding the word “beach” or “day” to the name. Partying under the sun in swimwear means lots of skin, heat and a carefree mindset all while consuming refreshing cocktails.
Uniforms & Dress Code
Your uniforms and dress code are key elements when creating a beach- or dayclub atmosphere regardless of whether or not your venue has a pool. Outfit your staff in beachwear such as bikinis, sarongs, boardshorts, shorts and short-sleeve tees and polo shirts, extending to your security. Just make certain that your staff is clearly wearing a uniform since relaxed, casual beachwear could make it hard for your guests to distinguish between other patrons and employees. The next logical step is to enforce a strict dress code for your guests. Jeans, dress shirts, suits, dress shoes, dresses – these all indicate nightlife and have no place at a dayclub. Instead, make swimwear the only allowable clothing option.
Along with your beachwear uniforms and dress code, other visual cues will help sell your beachclub concept. The great part of this concept is that the thematic elements are so ingrained in all of us. Your concept can be the reckless abandon of Spring Break, retro vibes of tiki, sexy swagger of South Beach, exotic party atmosphere of Ibiza...the list goes on and on as far as beachy destinations from which you can borrow inspiration.
When you’ve chosen your concept, contact your distributors and brand ambassadors. There’s no reason that they shouldn’t be helping you out with pulling your theme together. Branded ice buckets, shatterproof drinkware, banners, bevnaps, furniture, squirt guns, water cannons – even your staff uniforms – are all items with which your distributors and beer and spirits brands can help. If you really want to take daylife antics to the next level, purchase a few Champagne Guns and offer sparkling wine spray packages.
Finally, use a large decorative piece to really tie your theme together. If you’re going tiki, find an actual tiki carving to put on display. Going with Spring Break? Surfboards have always seemed to work well with that theme. Get creative.
Food & Drink
This is the time to get tropical and refreshing with your cocktail menu. From tiki drinks to classic poolside sippers, beach clubs are all about lemonades, mai tais, mojitos, daiquiris, slushy alcoholic beverages and the rest of their frosty cold, refreshing peers. As your guests will be day drinking, practice responsible service with session beers, low-alcohol cocktails and mocktails, along with simple beach bites such as chilled seasonal fruits, street-style tacos, sliders or chicken fingers. Frozen treats are also a great idea. If you can enter into a mutually beneficial partnership with a local ice cream producer, fantastic. Along those same lines, boozy popsicles are a hot trend among frozen menu items. And, of course, have plenty of water available.
Consider offering a signature cocktail, a lemonade or slushy drink, in plastic insulated souvenir cups with lids and built-in straws. These cups will offer you a chance to increase drink prices and provide an attractive alternative to the typical, generic plastic cup. Souvenir cups also help to sell the vacation vibe associated with daylife venues, even to locals. Lastly, don’t forget to have them branded with your venue’s logo.
Unless for some insane reason you’ve chosen Deliverance as your day club concept (and hey, that may work at the right venue), you’re going to want either high-energy dance music or downtempo lounge tunes. If you have the budget for A-list acts that draw huge crowds, go for it. DJs basically tour all year but the summer months are ramped up for partying. If you’re working with a much smaller budget, finding local or up-and-coming DJs who are establishing a following are affordable options. As you transition into the evening, local bands are great draws.
Location, Location, Location
There may be some lucky operators out there who actually have a pool outside of their nightclub or bar. Still others, in a more likely scenario, will have a bar or nightclub within a stone’s throw of a beach and an ocean or lake. Obviously, such venues have huge advantages when creating beach- or dayclubs. Hotels, whether they are of the boutique or mega-resort variety, also have a fantastic opportunity to transform their quiet pools to day drinking hotspots.
However, there are those venues that are nowhere near a beach or large body of water. And it’s probably safe to bet that a truly miniscule number of bars have pools on property. For these venues, tying together the beach theme, signature cocktails and food items, and music are crucial for this concept to succeed. If you can’t offer your guests a pool you can still provide a day drinking oasis to capture daytime dollars.
As stated earlier, opening a successful daylife venue takes considerably more effort than opening at 10:00 am rather than 10:00 pm. The first thing to consider is: Can you legally sell alcoholic beverages during the day where your bar is located? This is one of those instances where a healthy working relationship with city officials - and your attorney - is incredibly important. Make sure that you're complying with the law when creating your daylife concept.