Marquee-worthy: Tao Group Expansion Embraces Electronic Dance Music

morillo.jpgVegas club music sucks. Or it did on a whole only a year or two ago when tunes took a backseat to celebs popping bottles. Thankfully, the times are a-changin’. Further supporting our theory that DJs are the new socialites, Tao Group has embraced the rise in electronic dance music’s popularity and added more musical reasons to stop by their venues.

For years, DJ/producer Erick Morillo has been a major-holiday-weekend Tao staple, but 2010’s new Beatport Beach Party at Tao Beach upped the nightlife company’s EDM street cred. “The whole premise of that day was to start bringing in [dance music DJs] and educating and introducing them to the Vegas market,” says Tao Group co-owner and operator Jason Strauss. “I think it added diversity in the brand.”

Now, they’re throwing more big names into the mix. “For us we’re bouncing between our normal Thursday… and then trying to be new and innovative by bringing in new talent,” like electropop Scottish DJ/producer Calvin Harris who headlined Tao October 7. Explains Strauss, “The reports were over 3,500 people, up 30 percent from last year on the same Thursday. For us it was a major success.”

While a designated, weekly EDM-focused event isn’t in the works for either Tao or Lavo, the group has plans for the Beatport Beach party to return next summer, and there’s more on the horizon. “We make a big point of being plugged into pop culture and spend a lot of time on focus groups as to what our demographic is looking for,” says Strauss. “Right now more than ever, electronic dance music is something that is very much in demand.”

Of new Marquee nightclub/dayclub set to open at the Cosmopolitan, Strauss says: “There will be a very heavy focus on electronic dance music.” Something else to listen for? Satellite radio broadcasts of world-famous DJ sets recorded at the club, similar to the recent airing of Chuckie’s set from Lavo in New York. “There’s two major proposals that we have that could really take that unique content that we do at the Beatport [party] or maybe at Marquee and be able to package that kind of music and send back to a national audience.”

A fan of the scene, Strauss cites Morillo, Roger Sanchez, Kaskade and Paul van Dyk as some of his favorites. “I have four [business] partners and none of them listen to electronic dance music except for me,” laughs Strauss, who is positive about Vegas nightlife’s direction. “It’s great to see that the generic music that has owned Vegas for so long, the generic set that you walk into any nightclub and everyone’s playing, the crowd has finally demanded something more,” Strauss says. “It shows you the advancement of overall nightlife in Vegas and that only solidifies that Vegas is the nightlife capital of the world right now.”

Originally published in Las Vegas Weekly.

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