For clubbing aficionados, Ibiza and Las Vegas are destinations that are at the top of bucket list. Ibiza has been for decades the long-standing electronic dance music party holiday destination. On the other hand, Vegas splashed into the clubbing holiday scene since the surge in popularity of EDM in the United States, dazzling clubbers with its headliners and glamorous clubs. There has been heavy debate recently on whether or not Vegas has overtaken Ibiza as THE party holiday destination.
I went to Vegas in June of 2015, and was blown away by just how crazy it got. Having lived in Europe for a year, I loved being in an American party environment again. I had such a good time in Vegas, that I was doubtful that I could have more fun in Ibiza but also keen to compare the two destinations.
So, in September of this year, I had the chance to spend a week in Ibiza, hitting up all the famous clubs. Here are my two cents on the Ibiza vs. Vegas debate. And as a bonus, in the end I’ll throw in an underdog to the “best party holiday destination” debate – Florianopolis in Brazil.
Ibiza and Las Vegas are both touristic destinations with state-of-the-art venues and top-of-the-class DJs. One of the biggest differences of the party styles between the two places is the type of music played. In Ibiza, there is a wide variety of electronic dance music. There are parties hosted by popular commercial house DJs such as Hardwell and Armin van Buuren. However, in Ibiza underground is really king and techno & house parties are often packed to the max, as the ones in DC10 or Zoo Project. In Ibiza, you can also special nights for trance, acid house, and even drum and bass.
In Vegas, besides the odd Carl Cox night, techno tends to be played as intro/closing sets. All the music is either commercial house, or popular American EDM like Trance, Trap, and Dubstep.
In terms of variety of music played, Ibiza wins.
Ibiza: 1 / Vegas: 0
Clubs in Vegas unanimously go for the glamorous look. “Exclusivity” is important to Vegas nightclubs, with the long lines, promoters ushering hot girls, and large VIP areas. Vegas clubs, without fail, have crazy laser lights and LED screens. Some of the best clubs are XS, Marquee, Omnia, Hakkasan, and TAO, and the dress code is always to dress to impress. At all the nightclubs, heels for girls are a must, and ladies must doll up in miniskirts and dresses to get into the clubs. Men should wear dress shirts and nice shoes. Tennis shoes and t-shirts are grounds to be rejected from the club.
I’m personally not a fan of the posh clubs and uptight dress code, but there is one type of club in Vegas that I am TOTALLY in love with – the beach club! Some of the well-known beach clubs include Encore, Marquee, Wet Republic, Light, and Drai’s. Here, the dress code is to just look hot in your bathing suit! Pool parties are my favorite types of parties – not only can you play with water and floatie toys, I really like the day clubbing environment, as it is less about “seduction” but 100% about having a great time.
In Ibiza, you get clubs of a range of styles. Usually each night is hosted by a different promoter. The promoters decorate the parties according to their themes, so a club can look completely different from day to day.
Amnesia, Ushuaia, and Pacha go for the more glamorous look; Space doesn’t have much of a décor on its own but its promoters do a great job decorating; Sankeys and DC-10 go for the Berlin-esque underground vibe; and Privilege has a carnival-esque vibe. In Ibiza, there’s no dress code to get into clubs. Which is great, because ladies can wear flats and fanny packs, and guys can wear t-shirts! Ibiza clubs have less upscale flair (and lasers) than Vegas clubs do, but are a lot more creative and varied in their styles than Vegas clubs.
Unfortunately, although there are beach clubs & pool parties like Ibiza Rocks and Ocean Beach Club, they are nowhere close to the level of Vegas clubs. Sure, Ushuaia is a “Day Club” and has a pool, but it doesn’t allow people to go into the pool. What’s the point of having a pool if you can’t go in?
Despite not having actual beaches like Ibiza, Vegas beach clubs are legendary. Since I love pool parties and day clubbing, Vegas wins this one for me.
Ibiza: 1 / Vegas: 1
Atmosphere of Parties
Vegas parties can be described with one word: Ratchet. Indeed, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, and people behave completely differently when Vegas clubbing leaving their inhibitions behind. There are people literally “making it rain” with dollar bills, patrons walking around pouring $700 grey goose bottles down random people’s throats, and girls and boys hooking up left and right. In Vegas, anything goes.
The ambiance of Ibiza parties feel a lot more controlled. Nothing gets too crazy as Europeans are a lot cooler about their partying, and it’d be hard for you to find girls that are hot messes.
I think Vegas is more about having fun and being ridiculous, while Ibiza is more about music appreciation. For a party holiday, I prefer the Vegas style of atmosphere.
Ibiza: 1 / Vegas: 2
Prices / Being a Girl
Prices in both party capitals are prohibitive. In Vegas, it’s especially pricey to be a guy. Vegas club cover prices range from $20 upwards to $100, depending on the DJ of the night and time of the year. For example, prices go up a lot more during EDC week. If you know a promoter, you can probably get $10-$20 off the price or even go for free on a less-popular night. Unfortunately for men, in Vegas price discrimination is real, . Women often enter clubs free or for half the cover price of men.
In Ibiza, both genders are treated equally; the exorbitant prices extend to both men and women. Cover ranges between 40-70 euros for an event. At less popular club nights, you may be able to find tickets for a cheaper price using a wristband that club promoters hand out on the streets of Playa d’En Bossa and Sant Antoni.
The spending doesn’t stop once you’re in the club – in Vegas, I once purchased a gin and tonic at Omnia for $27 – the first and only time I bought a drink in Vegas. And if you want to buy a bottle, it’s around $700 per bottle, excluding gratuities (add another 20%). In Ibiza, the prices are slightly more accessible; I spent “only” 18 euros on a vodka lemon at Amnesia. That was also the first and the only time I bought a drink in Ibiza. Price of water is 10 euros, and they put salt water in the bathrooms forcing you to purchase drinks.
The good news is, if you are a girl, you get world class clubbing in Vegas for close to nothing. Not only does it cost less to get into clubs (or even free if you know a promoter), men are usually offering you free drinks left and right. When people go to Vegas, their attitude towards money totally changes. Many men are basically throwing away their money, especially those that are there for bachelor parties. Give these men the pleasure of your fun company for a few moments and relish in the free drinks. Congratulations, you’ve just saved yourself at least a hundred bucks tonight.
On the flip side, if you are a girl in Ibiza, sorry, you got to suck up all the costs – you are almost never comped entrance as a girl. It’s also a lot harder to find guys that are willing to buy you drinks because in Europe, “buying a girl a drink” is not a cultural norm.
Ibiza: 1 / Vegas: 3 (from a girl’s perspective)
Verdict: I prefer Vegas as a party holiday destination. Music in Vegas is not as sophisticated, but it is 10x more wild. Also, as a girl, Vegas a lot more cost-effective! 😉
Ibiza and Vegas shouldn’t just look to each other for competition. Though it has largely been a two-horse race in the partying world, Florianopolis/Balneario Camboriu in Brazil is an emerging destination that is worth a mention. The two cities are an hour and a half apart, but together they are home to some of the world’s best parties, most beautiful beaches, and most gorgeous people. The clubs Pacha and P12 in Florianopolis, as well as Green Valley and Warung Beach Club in Balneario Camboriu have weekend lineups that can hold its own against the two mega party holiday destinations. If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten track dance music clubbing holiday destination, then Brazil must be on your list!
Which Party Holiday Destination is for you?
In summary, you should party in Ibiza if you…
… love underground dance music (house or techno) or hate commercial dance music.
… are rich.
… love Europeans. Specifically, Brits.
… want to combine a beach vacation with a party vacation.
… don’t like to follow a dress code.
You should party in Vegas if you…
… are a girl or a rich man
… think that pool + sun + party is awesome (read about the best pool parties here)
… love mainstream EDM, Trap, Dubstep, bass music
… love glamorous clubs and dressing up
… love ratchet crazy parties
… want to be around people who party like there’s tomorrow
Finally, you should party in Florianopolis if you…
… want to party with (the most beautiful) Brazilians
… love commercial house, deep house, or underground music
… love beaches and great weather
… want to party in the premiere clubbing destination of South America
Did I miss anything or do you have another favorite party holiday destination in mind? Let me know in the comments!
Also, read about my other international clubbing adventures here.