Dustin Drai is the talent coordinator at Drai’s Beachclub & Nightclub, located at The Cromwell in Las Vegas.  He’s the son of Victor Drai, the nightclub owner who founded Tryst, XS, and After Hours. Victor is also known for producing the movies “The Woman In Red” and “Weekend at Bernie’s.”

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Photo: Mike Kirschbaum

Dustin Drai

Drai’s has spent the last two years providing a full concert space for artists, who perform full sets to the late-night crowd. The club hosts about 200 performances a year.

Knowing full well your family background, how did you get to your current position, and where will you be moving forward?

Once I graduated from college, I only had three days before heading right to work. My father and I had always talked about how I needed to learn every aspect of the business if I wanted to succeed so I immediately started out as an operations manager so that I could have a foundational understanding of how the actual day-to-day operations of the business work.

I learned everything from scheduling, hiring and firing staff, to producing and making sense of all the reports.  It was important for me to start learning the talent side of the business, so I jumped into the venue’s talent department after learning the ropes of operations.

Some of my duties are to work with agents and managers on a daily basis to coordinate all of our events and make sure every show goes smoothly for both our guests and talent. While talent relations is my actual day-to-day job, I am constantly working hand-in-hand with our executive team and stay involved with nearly everything that goes on at Drai’s. So that I can know it inside and out, I make every effort to visit all three of our Las Vegas venues outside of office hours (the Beachclub, Nightclub and Afterhours).

Speaking of which, you also worked for Caesars in marketing.  Was it your original intent to move in that direction?

I think I’ve always had my heart set on learning the business of Drai’s so that I could, one day, fill my father’s role, and an important part of this path, for me, has been to learn as many aspects of the entertainment industry as possible.

By the way, you were once named SMU’s most eligible bachelor.  I’m the editorial department’s most eligible bachelor. Crazy huh.

(laughs) I’m glad to see we have something in common! That was a story a friend of mine did on me for fun in college.

Back to the nightclub. A representative pitched this idea because Drai’s apparently works hard at the concert experience.  Can you please elaborate on how it is unique?  We can see how competitors could argue they do concerts too.

About two years ago, when Drai’s started pioneering the live act route, my dad made it very clear from the first show that in order for us to be different and a step ahead of the rest, it couldn’t just be an artist onstage for two-three songs like you get at the other clubs in Vegas. It had to be a full 45 minute-plus show, a real concert with a band and production.

The Drai’s LIVE concept is what has set Drai’s apart from any other venue – not only on The Strip but arguably the entire industry. We have a huge roster of artists performing full shows of all their biggest hits. You get to see some of the most celebrated artists in the world like Chris Brown, Future, Lil Wayne, and Migos just to name a few, and they’re just a couple feet away from you.

Drai’s gives you that up-close, personal feeling, like you’re getting a private concert, and then you get to tack on a full night of dancing at the venue. Because we have become such a platform for live entertainment, we have acts coming to us all the time asking to come play the Drai’s LIVE stage. 

I’ve traveled the world and have been to most nightclubs, and none of them have the capability to really do what we do due to their design. Drai’s is designed in a way that’s perfect for live performances. If you want to experience your favorite artists live, there is no better venue than at Drai’s.

Are there any plans for expansions?

Because of the success that Drai’s has seen, there have been many opportunities that have presented themselves in terms of continued growth and expansion. We just opened a new club in Vancouver that has been very successful in just its first month, and we also have some other exciting projects in the works that are still under wraps – but just know there are big things to come with Drai’s.

In addition to growing internationally, we’re also constantly looking for opportunities to expand the brand locally in Vegas. A big part of that is helping the public make that mind-shift from Drai’s being just a club to a full live entertainment experience.

Another exciting project we’ve developed is our full-service, gourmet kitchen, Drai’s Café at Drai’s Beachclub. We have the most beautiful pool in the world and there is no better place to come spend the day under the sun.

My father is also constantly trying to make the club better. He always told me never to be content, to constantly push the boundaries and to try and make something better. So, whether it’s changing the color of a wall, or adding more light to the dance floor, we always look at what can be done to elevate the guest experience.

What do you do to accommodate the musical guests? If you’ve heard complaints from artists or agents, what was it and how did you correct?

We handle everything for our talent from the moment they land in Las Vegas to the moment they leave, and do our best to make their time with us as enjoyable as possible in between. There is a ton of planning and coordinating all of the moving parts – from ground travel, to hotel, to hospitality and more – that we work closely with artist management on to make sure everything is perfect.

Most of our talent are pretty happy to come to Vegas anyway because, although they are working, they get a little vacation from whatever they have going on.

What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?

I would have to say that’s my love for musicals. When I was growing up I was in all sorts of plays from “Romeo and Juliet” to “A Chorus Line,” and it gave me a true love for entertainment and the performing arts. My favorite musical I have ever seen would have to be “Lion King.”

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t in nightlife, I feel I would still be somewhere in the world of hospitality. I love people, and interacting with them, and I’d say I’m pretty good at it.

It’s really hard to say, though, because I have grown up in this world always knowing that I wanted to be a part of the legacy my dad has created. He never pushed me to work for Drai’s, and always told me if I wanted to do something else with my life he would support me 100 percent.  Knowing that has really pushed me to work even harder.

What in this industry pisses you off the most?

There’s not much that pisses me off, per se. But, one thing I’ve been working on is to not getting frustrated when things don’t pan out. It’s taken a lot of successes and failures to realize that not every idea is going be a great one and not every show is going to be perfect, but it’s all a part of learning the business – and life. This industry has really taught me how to make decisions on the fly and to never let something stop you.