By Jacqueline Monahan
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Nightclub & Bar Convention Right at Home in Sin City

The Las Vegas Convention Center rocked the DAY away for a change, as the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show (NCB) invaded Las Vegas from March 8-10. As you would expect from its name, the gathering encompassed all aspects of the business side of bar nightclub and/or bar enterprises. Accompanying that show were two other industry “cousins,” the International Restaurant Show and HotelWorld Food & Beverage.

A Popular Event
Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

It was International Hospitality Week, after all. Since 2007 the three specialized events have come together under one roof to showcase trends, new products and innovations to vendors and buyers alike.

Your humble correspondent took to the vast floor of the convention in search of unique products and found several among the neon signage, smoothies, and continual rock beat to highlight.

Think Drink, Inc.’s motto is, “When life gives you lemons, make lemon scented coasters!” The little square cream-yellow-green coasters emit a pleasing smell that reminds you of something being freshly cleaned. Just think how that would help improve the atmosphere in a room full of ashtrays.

New Pig, from Pig Absorbents, is a super cloth that can absorb any liquid, including cooking oil and grease. It comes perforated so you can target the cloth to any mess size. Just ask National Sales Manager, Katie Hammaker (no, I’m not making her name up). The Pig vendors all wore chef’s hats with snouts on them. And liked it.

Katie Hammaker (right, front), and PIG pals
Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

Dine-A-Light, a patented low cost light system is an accessory for menu covers and check presenters. is the only lighted menu application capable of illuminating multiple page covers and is compatible with virtually any size custom menu cover or check presenter (with the Dine-a-Light die), from any manufacturer. Now your shocked face (at an outrageous bill) will be even more apparent.

Roaring Lion Energy Drink sent forth goodwill ambassadors to hand out postcards for a free vodka-laced drink at the Sahara. Their energy drink was the star, of course. Even the vodka had an enticing name (42 Below). As the new guys on the block, Roaring Lion did the best job of getting the word – and the drink - out.

California Portable Dance Floor Company (PDFC) specializes in a variety of portable floors (even sparkly, mirrored ones) that spread out and pack up faster than the D.J. can change a tune. With names like Vinyl Check and Liquid Lava, there’s a surface suitable for all manner of tripping the light fantastic. Just don’t “trip” when they pack it up and you’re back in the side room of The Moose Lodge. It’s that quick.

Novelty Crystal specializes in…plastic! They manufacture among many other things, a full line of specialty drink ware such as plastic coconuts, acrylic cactus margaritas and acrylic palm tree stemware. A collection of these was so eye-catching that they containers could be taken as real crystal. Good thing “novelty” precedes that word.

"Crystal" containers
Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

What else can you find at the NCB? Starting with its most conservative branch, HotelWorld Food & Beverage, booths can feature housekeeping products (vacuum cleaners, carts) and furniture (beds, desks, dressers). The International Restaurant Show features new equipment (soft-serve machines, heating elements) and trends (bite-sized desserts, small plates, ethnic twists).

At the International Restaurant Show
Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

Samples are offered at each of these two shows, but the most space, the loudest music, and the biggest crowds can be found at…

The Nightclub and Bar Show itself. There you’re likely to encounter booths devoted to multi-colored wristbands that act as your ticket into a hot spot. Every type and temperature of alcoholic beverage is represented, from smoky, aged scotch to frosty, vodka-spiked pineapple smoothies. It’s not unusual to find entire areas dedicated to barstools, glow-in-the-dark signs, money counting machines, and shot-glass variations.

NCB booths are manned, or should I say “womanned” by groups of provocatively dressed maidens, beckoning to newcomers and veterans alike. They dance, they pose, they even jump on trampolines (Monster Energy Drink). Music blares and everyone consumes beverages in all stages of fermentation, from none at all to “hey, sailor!” No wonder there’s a code of conduct to follow.

Dress must be professional/casual business attire (this does not apply to the girls). Exhibitor/attendee may not “participate in any promiscuous, sexually provocative, or other inappropriate behavior (this does not apply to the girls). All registrants must agree that “they will practice responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages.” (this does not…well, you know).

"Monster" Girls
Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

This event is really popular with the men folk, and attendance was up 21% this year compared to last. Go figure.

There were educational sessions in topics such as room service, employee motivation, increasing restaurant profits, beverage management, and bartending with style. Nightclub & Bar Magazine presented awards to the winners in the 2010 Nightclub & Bar Awards program, judged by 20 professionals in the field.

Our fair city swept the nightclub awards, (XS, Tao, Hard Rock, Rain, Blush, Midsummer Night’s Dream) but best bar bragging rights went to neighbors both east and west (San Francisco, Chicago, Kansas City, New York, Pittsburgh, Willamantic, CT, San Francisco).

Attendees included Justin Timberlake (901 Silver Tequila CEO/founder), Dan Aykroyd (Crystal Head Vodka), Kevin Brauch (The Thirsty Traveler) and Iron Chef Star Dominique Crenn. Seen out and about on the convention floor were The Fantasy Girls, Miss Nevada, the cast of Thunder from Down Under and The Rat Pack.

Product Placement is Important
Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

Nighttime partying took place at Haze (Aria), Tabu (MGM Grand), XS Nightclub (Wynn Encore) and LAVO Nightclub ((the Palazzo). Daytime partying took place from 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., or each day that the NCB exhibits were open. And it all comes back to us again next year with all of its boisterous, bewitching blends or brews and beverages (and blonds and brunettes and…)

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