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Krave to move to Neonopolis, become world's largest gay nightclub

Krave Massive rendering
Krave Massive rendering

Not only is a megaclub coming to downtown Las Vegas, but so are the gays. 

Krave, the 17,000 square-foot nightclub at the Miracle Mile shopping center adjacent to Planet Hollywood hotel-casino, will be moving from its expensive Strip location to Neonopolis, the slowly reviving entertainment complex just west of the Fremont East Entertainment District. It will occupy and transform the shuttered Crown Theater/Galaxy 11 cineplex on Neonopolis' third floor -- just feet away from drag queen-themed Drink & Drag bowling lounge, with which Krave shares an owner, Polaris Entertainment -- and is slated to open, if not be completed, by year's end. The current Krave will close either a few week before or just as the new one opens. 

The nightclub will actually be renamed Krave Massive, a nod to its ambitious expansion plans. It will now encompass 80,000 square feet, which will include five different dance rooms (themed in accordance to the music being played in each: house, top 40, hip-hop, dance, country and Latin), Tickled Pick comedy club, a performing arts theater, an LGBT-themed movie theater, a "lesbians-only" lounge, three separate bars, a martini lounge, two private lounges, and a retail store, among other designated spaces. An outdoor pool with cabanas is even in the works. Combined with a possible pool and Drink & Drag -- which may one day be connected to its big-brother dance spot -- the Krave downtown complex may grow to 120,000 square feet. Renovations will be handled by Perlman Architects/Environmental Design Group, which spearheaded The District at Green Valley Ranch. 

Krave Massive will be the first major nightclub to open in modern downtown Las Vegas, as well as the first gay nightclub to set up shop in downtown proper. (The Backdoor Lounge, a Latino gay bar with a dance floor, resides in the Huntridge District on Charleston Boulevard.) 

The announcement came today from Krave/Polaris owner Kelly Murphy, who bought out former owner Sia Amiri earlier this year, and Mayor Carolyn Goodman. "I love the energy [downtown]," said Murphy. "I love the youthfulness, the craziness. The Mayor has worked hard getting us here." 

And now Krave must work hard getting the gays here. While Drink & Drag is currently pulling over 4,000 bodies a week -- two-thirds of which are LGBT patrons, estimates Murphy -- gay revelers have yet to join the downtown renaissance in masse. While the LGBT nightspots are well-scattered throughout the city, downtown proper hasn't had a hangout dedicated and marketed to the gays until May, when Drink & Drag opened. Murphy aims to change that, and debunk the notion that he might see less bodies now that he'll leave Las Vegas Boulevard.

In fact, he's projecting about 12,000 people a week will eventually patronize his Krave Massive and Drink & Drag complex -- Krave currently draws about 4,500, seven days a week -- with anywhere from one-fourth to one-third of that attendance being straight-identified locals and tourists. Plans call for four shuttles to pick would-be revelers up on the Strip and at the Fruit Loop -- the gay nightlife hub at Paradise Road and Naples Drive, just southwest of UNLV -- and take them to Neonoplis. And Murphy has already established a "strategic partnership" with The Grand, the upscale hotel which will replace the nearby former Lady Luck and no doubt seeks to lure the much-coveted LGBT traveler demographic. 

"My clientele, primarily gays and lesbians, they're location-driven for specific events," he said. "I don't necessarily have to be on the Strip." 

Speaking of the Fruit Loop, Polaris also plans to open Boys Lounge, a nonsmoking "hipster lounge" complete with foot and unique artwork, in September. "I wanted to have a presence there," Murphy said. "It's important for us to use some of the resources to upgrade the area."

Krave Massive is a big turnaround for Neonopolis, which in 2003 rubber-stamped and then denied a lease to an Ohio businessman seeking to open a gay club in the facility. (A settlement was reached in 2005, and new owner Rohit Joshi took over in 2006.) It's also feels like something of a goodwill gesture from Goodman, who irked some in the gay community when she gave cringe-worthy answers about her stance on same-sex unions while running for office last year, and was one of the few American metropolitan mayors to refuse to sign a pledge declaring support of gay marriage. Nonetheless, she enthusiastically welcomed Murphy, Krave -- and "the next generation of showgirls," as she pointed to the drag queens from Drink & Drag -- into the downtown fold, while further extoling the promise of Neonopolis and the Fremont area. "We're alive and well here," she said. "It's going to be a knockout, fabulous place for all of us."