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Partying and excess remain fixtures of ICSC, even as some companies opt for modest events

Drai’s nightclub at the Cromwell (credit: David Jeans)

Looking out from a booth in the Wynn nightclub Intrigue, it was difficult to ignore a man on stilts dressed as a tree bounding between the aisles. From up there, the view certainly spelled excess: women dancing on podiums and a crowd of real estate folk bumping and bopping to a top 40 playlist.

The party at the nightclub Sunday night set the tone of what was to come on the inevitable party circuit that accompanies the 2018 ICSC RECon convention in Las Vegas.

While some of the renowned parties thrown by the country’s biggest commercial real estate firms remained a fixture on the social calendar, other firms stayed behind the bushes and abandoned their events all together. RKF opted not to host a party this year, and a company spokesperson said it would hold smaller client dinners instead. CBRE, Eastern Consolidated, Winick Realty Group and law firm Fried Frank also chose not to throw a large bash.

For those who did host, not all were welcome. This reporter was turned away from Related Companies’ annual extravaganza at Nobu Villa, within Caesars Palace. Cushman & Wakefield and Newmark Knight Frank also flagged that no press would be allowed to attend their bash at the Marquee Nightclub in the Cosmopolitan.

The parties were in full swing by Sunday and the New York contingent gathered by the Wynn’s pool. The Polsinelli law firm and Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation were entertaining at several cabanas. Further down, people milled about Winick Realty’s cabana.

Attendees noted the absence of some of New York City’s prominent retail-owning Jewish families — some of whom were due to arrive in Las Vegas Tuesday, following the observance of Shavuot. James Famularo, a principal with Eastern Consolidated’s retail leasing division, said that attendance was notably down at the Wynn pool, compared to last year. “The holiday definitely affected it, but people are still here,” he said.

But before the most extravagant events took off, several companies held private dinners or more modest gatherings. A few dozen people attended a quiet gathering for Lee & Associates party outside Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab at Caesar’s Palace.

Over at the Wynn, however, Marcus and Millichap hosted a show at Intrigue. A woman pranced by at the club’s entrance, wearing what equated to an Egyptian-themed headpiece and cloth that hung from her arms to finish the costume. Within the club, similarly costumed women danced on raised podiums amid the congested bustle of real estate folk gently elbowing their way to the bar.

Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind” was the closing song of the night, before, almost to the second of midnight, the lights flashed on, prompting attendees to scuttle for the exits.

Monday morning may have been a slow start for some, but by the evening, people were keen to blow off steam after a long day on the convention floor. A thin line gathered in front of Marquee nightclub for the renowned Newmark Knight Frank party at the Cosmopolitan.

Over at the Cromwell Casino, a heavy bass line thundered across the Drai’s nightclub pool party for JLL’s annual event. A sultry red glow lit the corridor that led to the rooftop beach, which offered sweeping views of the Las Vegas strip.

While JLL’s mega party was a tough act to follow, Blumenfeld Development Group opted for a smaller group and held their party at Intrigue after the Cushman & Wakefield crowd moved out. It was modestly attended by real estate folk and hired models, in comparison to the previous night’s event by Marcus & Millichap.

“We had the same party last year and we thought it was comparable,” said David Kaplan, the company’s general counsel, adding that he believed there was a drop in attendance on the convention floor.

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