The first time I attended the Nightclub & Bar Show in Las Vegas was in 1987. I had just started writing for the magazine, which at that point was only two years old and still very much evolving and finding its voice, so to speak. If memory serves the convention that year was held at the Tropicana in an adjacent building at the back of the property. Despite being a fraction of the size of what it is today, I needed a minute or two to take in what I found. The smallish hall was rocking. Its walls reverberated from the hard driving music. Laser lights circled the room, strobes flashed and confetti cannons occasionally filled the air with streamers.
It took less than an hour for me to make several circuits around the show floor, but they proved unforgettable laps. I rejoiced in sampling new spirits being offered by the few suppliers who had booths. There was a glass company exhibiting several new lines of glassware, beer companies handing out free samples and a smattering of booths featuring bar-appropriate finger foods. Not to mention equipment purveyors and suppliers all demonstrating the latest and greatest. The show's mini-educational track presented me with my first opportunity to hear industry mega-stars like Jon Taffer, Patrick Henry and Bob Sikora of Bobby Magee's speak on their areas of expertise. To say I was awe struck would be something of an understatement. Now 25 years later the annual convention is referred to simply as "The Show." It's now held in two of the Las Vegas Convention Center's cavernous exhibition halls as every company catering to the on-premise industry is represented there with at least one booth--and I do mean everyone. Walking the aisles you'll pass CEOs of national accounts, master distillers, club owners, restaurateurs, bartenders, wine makers, DJs, brewmasters, celebrated mixologists and rapidly aging trade writers. Being Las Vegas, you're also going to bump into a bunch of curious looking folks and women wearing little more than a well-placed handkerchief or two. The Show's educational program has grown into the best in the business, with scores of graduate-level seminars and workshops from which to choose. I'm extremely proud of my longstanding association with Nightclub & Bar magazine and having attended 23 of the 25 Las Vegas Nightclub and Bar Shows. It still ranks as the professional highlight of my year. Kudos NCB and continued success.