Father and son Victor and Dustin Drai reflect on 25 years of Drai’s

[Las Vegas Weekly]

June 23 2022

Victor (left) and Dustin Drai

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Through all the changes the Strip has seen over the past quarter century, Drai’s After Hours has remained a linchpin of the Las Vegas nightlife scene.

The iconic spot at the Cromwell will celebrate 25 adventurous years on June 25. For founder Victor Drai, creating such a long legacy will always feel like a happy accident.

“I never think that far,” says Drai, the Moroccan mogul and film producer who helped modernize Vegas clubs. “That’s my magic. I always do things and live with it.

” When he opened Drai’s as a restaurant in 1997—in the basement of what was then the Barbary Coast—he knew he had a gorgeous space in a prime location. It was just a matter of what to do with it after dinner service ended.

Drai’s pioneered the late-night lounge, keeping revelers enticed into the wee hours with glamorous, exclusive vibes. Its influence would touch every part of the Las Vegas nightlife industry, from introducing the earliest sounds of EDM to ushering in the age of bottle service.

Victor Drai went on to open other venues like Tryst and XS at Wynn and Liaison at Bally’s—the first LGBTQ nightclub inside a casino—while expanding the Drai’s brand with the rooftop nightclub and dayclub at the Cromwell.

These days he’s lauded by many, but especially by his son, Dustin Drai, vice president of marketing and entertainment for the Drai’s Group.

“Yes, we’re celebrating 25 years of Drai’s After Hours,” Dustin says, “but what we’re really celebrating is 25 years of being a part of Las Vegas nightlife and how [my father has] created not only jobs for companies he’s owned, but just an industry altogether that has provided livelihoods and careers to thousands and thousands of people who may or may not have come [here] without him coming here.”

Like most things in this family business, Dustin joining his father wasn’t part of a master plan. In fact, Victor says he assumed his son would become an actor. But the father-and-son duo made a great team.

“We’ve always been together. I traveled all over the world with him,” Victor says. “I didn’t look at it like something weird. For me, it was just my kid, and we were doing things together because I was working. We were very close, and we work that close.”

There was never a board meeting Victor didn’t allow his son to observe, or a discussion in which he couldn’t engage—even at age 12.

“That was always the way that I was raised, being around and him never being afraid to ask my opinion,”Dustin says. “Because of that, I was able to see how hard he worked, and that really translated to the way that my work ethic is now.”

It’s “turning more and more into a partnership as I get older,” Dustin says of the relationship, though nothing eclipses the personal connection they have when it comes to business.

“The whole company knows when they need something, they go to him, he comes to me and he knows how to approach me,” Victor says. “He knows when I get crazy to back off, and to leave me and my sh*t for a few hours and to come back. He’s very diplomatic. He knows me better than myself.”

Innovation runs in the family DNA. It has kept Drai’s thriving for 25 years, and it has turned Drai’s Beachclub & Nightclub into a live concert destination for today’s biggest hip-hop and R&B stars.

“Here you can almost touch the [artist onstage], and people freak out at that. That’s what we love,” Victor says. “It’s another level of show, almost like a showroom in the nightclub.”

As the anniversary arrives, the Drais are set on remaining in the moment—and trusting their gut. “You have to,” Victor says. “Otherwise you’re never going to be great.”

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