With all apologies to Nucky Thompson, the overwhelming consensus is Atlantic City can never compete with the hedonistic debauchery of Las Vegas.
It’s just a different vibe down the shore. But that doesn’t mean the entertainment options aren’t binge-worthy, especially with the current effort to bring the Vegas-style pool club — read: DJs and drinks — to Atlantic City.
Revel features the trendy HQ Beach Club, which is open Thursday through Sunday. The main DJ, usually an established star, spins tirelessly for a very music-savvy crowd.
“Every time I go up there, it’s been absolutely bonkers,” said Fergie, a Vegas-based DJ who specializes in electronic mixes. He’s a regular at Hakkasan at the MGM Grand in Vegas and makes guest appearances at Wet Republic.
“When you play in Vegas,” he says, “you have quite a mixed crowd. When I play HQ, it’s more of a percentage of people who actually know the music and know the DJ.”
Fergie believes the pool scene could grow over time in Atlantic City, but he also has realistic expectations.
“Las Vegas is Las Vegas,” he says. “It’s never going to be the same level, but there is a reason why there is a new vibe going on [in AC]. They are definitely on their way, with the new Revel Resort — there’s just something changing.”
Ivan Kane, who runs the Royal Jelly Burlesque Nightclub at Revel, can also see a change. Kane opened Forty Deuce in Hollywood in 1997 and was the subject of a reality show when he expanded the brand to Vegas.
“I learned a very valuable lesson when I went to Vegas after being in Hollywood for several years,” Kane says. “I really wanted to embrace the local clientele. Las Vegas was all transients, but Atlantic City, it’s the people that are here all year, not just summer. We’re open 12 months a year. They are looking for the same kind of fun time [as Vegas], but you want to be more approachable with the prices and availability.”
Royal Jelly is a feast for the senses. Shows feature fully trained — and scantily clad — dancers stretching their bodies while Guns N' Roses blares from a live band on a revolving stage.
“We haven’t skipped a beat since we opened our doors on Sept. 2 of last year,” Kane says. “Electronic lights and sound, celebrity DJs, we kind of reside in our niche of something different. It’s the perfect ying to HQ’s yang — and you can do both experiences in one night.”
Will Atlantic City ever be Vegas? Probably not. But, it’s a much cheaper option.
“I do feel that we are offering the people on the Eastern seaboard another option, instead of getting on a plane to Nevada,” Kane says.
Kane isn’t just catering to the male customers. Earlier this month he introduced a male burlesque review at Royal Jelly, and says business has been booming.
“We’re excited to keep expanding the genre of what a burlesque show is,” says Kane. “We’re taking it to new levels of bacchanalian heights.”
The pool scene
Most pool clubs in Atlantic City are 21-plus after 8 p.m., and offer cabanas and daybeds.
• HQ Beach Club, Revel
• H2O Pool + Bar, Golden Nugget
• Cabana Club, The Chelsea
• Pool After Dark, Harrah’s (closed during the day)