Impeccably dressed in a tailored suit and a fashionably wide and colorful tie, Howard Weiss straddles the top two steps leading onto the small stage at The Pool at Harrah’s.
The all-weather tropical hangout has been transformed from its daytime persona as a haven for the hotel’s middle-aged hotel guests into its pulse-pounding nightclub configuration.
Thirty feet from the stage, hip hop star Wyclef Jean is chilling out in a comfortable cabana waiting for his cue. Weiss looks out at the crowd of several thousand people, most of them in their 20s and early 30s, and seems satisfied that everything looks and feels and sounds just right. He speaks into a Secret Service-style microphone hidden beneath the sleeve of his suit jacket.
Suddenly, at the stroke of 1am, things begin to happen in a hurry. Jean, accompanied by DJ David Christian, makes his way to the stage, exchanges a few words with Weiss, and is introduced to the crowd.
The Haitian-American singer and musician opens with a moment of silence and then a musical tribute to Whitney Houston, who died just hours earlier. Then Jean picks up a guitar and begins his mini-show.
It’s just another night at the office for Weiss, who just might have the coolest job in A.C. It’s been a whirlwind nine-year ride for the 29-year-old Penn State graduate who thought his degree in hospitality management would lead to a career running restaurants.
Weiss is director of nightlife operations for the eastern division of Caesars Entertainment, Inc. His job puts him in charge of about 20 venues, ranging from small lounges to the centerpiece of the gaming giant’s eastern operation, The Pool at Harrah’s Resort. More specifically, The Pool After Dark, which is what the unique facility is called several nights a week after the sun goes down.
Weiss has helped refine the concept of bringing in celebrities, ranging from popular entertainers to reality show personalities, to host “pool parties.” The parties attract thousands of people who pay a cover charge to enter the facility and get to tell their friends they “hung out” with the likes of Hollywood naught girl Lindsay Lohan or Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi of MTV’s The Jersey Shore, even though they’ll never actually get close to the party’s host.
More properties are structuring their social schedules and nightlife scenes around pools, and not just during the summer months.
An entertainment classic never goes out of style — especially with casinos and the people they attract. That seems to be the booking strategy at several Atlantic City casinos as they scramble to complete their spring and summer lineups. What had already been shaping up to be a strong season for shows is now on the verge of becoming the biggest and most diverse collection of attractions the city has seen since the dice began rolling down the Boardwalk 34 years ago.
“The people in Atlantic City are very sharp, and for me, as a musician, it’s a very lively place for me, it’s very creative for me, When I perform in Atlantic City, it’s different from other places. It’s like all walks of life come to see me, and it’s very cool.”
When Revel Entertainment opens Atlantic City’s first new casino resort in nine years on April 2, CEO Kevin DeSanctis will be borrowing an entertainment page right out of his old Mohegan Sun playbook. Revel’s guests can expect to find free entertainment in a venue known as The Social, an open, 700-capacity room smack in the center of the gaming floor.
Revel reportedly outbid another Atlantic City Casino to book the popular pop rock band, but it’s unlikely they’ll actually christen the new showroom.
CRDA Boss John Palmieri: “We are very excited about the preliminary concepts being assessed and look forward to sharing this material, and we encourage the public to take time to become involved in this process. It takes a wide range of stakeholders to create something that Atlantic City can be proud of.”
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