- What: XIV Vegas Sessions
- When/Where: 5 p.m. Sunday, Hyde Bellagio
- Admission: $30. Table service starts at $2,000.
- Call: 702-693-8700 for more information or to reserve a table.
Tess Balesteri has her candy necklace and some lollipops for her hair. She just hopes she doesn't melt under a shower of champagne.
"Some of the girls will be wearing cotton candy, so when they start spraying champagne, that should be interesting," Balesteri said.
Balesteri, a cocktail waitress at Hyde Bellagio, was getting ready to serve up the crowd at the club's XIV Vegas Sessions, its Sunday afternoon theme party. April's theme: "Candy Carnival." Your Easter basket never looked like this — dancers in candy-colored costumes, drinks with names like Love Unit and DJs blasting house music.
"It's not the typical day party or nightclub party because it's in a smaller venue," Balesteri said of Hyde, which holds about 700 people.
When Sam Nazarian's sbe Entertainment Group launched the idea of an adult costume party on a Sunday afternoon at its XIV restaurant in Los Angeles, it wasn't universally predicted to become a hit.
"People said everyone was going to be at the pool or not going out at 5 o'clock on a Sunday and that it would never work," said Mio Danilovic, vice president of operations for sbe, which runs Hyde Bellagio.
But it didn't take long to start packing in the 2,000-square-foot space on Sunset Boulevard each week with crowds looking for some Sunday afternoon debauchery.
"Actually, we found it was a perfect time to capture an audience after they left the pool and in between the nightclubs," Danilovic said.
The Las Vegas parties at Hyde began in January once a month to give people one final weekend hurrah. Now, Danilovic said, sbe is looking to expand XIV as a brand of these themed parties that he hopes will reach South Beach in Miami, where he was this week.
The Los Angeles version became a hideaway for celebrities looking for a party that didn't advertise their appearances or put them on a display to draw people to the club. The stars came with the rest of the crowd for the wild decorations, raging dance music and performance artists in elaborate candy costumes mingling among the guests.
"At these parties, you're likely to be standing beside the celebrity instead of seeing them on a stage, Balesteri said.
The room takes on a character of its own, such as this Sunday's sensual Candyland, and the party develops its own vibe into the evening. The night is fueled by Hyde's wicked cocktails, such as the Love Unit or Celery Superstar. But XIV insiders say the most popular order from the bar is an oversized champagne bottle "flown" to your table by Superman.
DJs Julien Nolan, Chris Garcia and Zen Freeman will build musical atmosphere throughout the night, ramping it up into a confetti-blowing, champagne-raining frenzy.
While arriving late may be fashionable at some clubs, Danilovic said the character of XIV doesn't mingle well with tardiness.
"People make the mistake of coming late, and then it's like walking in on the middle of something that you've missed," Danilovic said. "You really have to be part of the progression and the build-up of the night."
Those arriving are encouraged to dress with the theme of the night. It's not advisable to wear anything that needs dry cleaning.
"You will get sprayed by champagne," Danilovic said.