You might not think the Las Vegas nightlife scene and the armed forces would have a lot in common, but it turns out the two are intrinsically tied by the many men and women who now work in the industry, but were trained on a bigger battleground.
In honor of Veterans Day, we pay our respects to those who’ve risked their life for freedom and who now make these Las Vegas nights shine bright. The military has graced Las Vegas nightlife with some of its top talent; meet four men whose two careers share similar qualifiers for success—among them dedication, persistence and loyalty.
Corporal Sean Dunn
Former marketing director, 1 Oak in The Mirage
Served in: U.S. Marine Corps, 2000-04; deployed to Iraq in 2003 as a scout/sniper.
Nightlife career: Started in brand development at the Cosmopolitan, then moved to The Act, where he was director of marketing and special events. When that closed, he joined Light Group.
How the Service Helped: “In the military, you learn to deal with not-so-nice conditions, so it’s all ‘up’ from there,” Dunn says. “You also deal with long hours, which prepares you for Vegas nightlife, where you have to be ready to go for a long time without a lot of rest. Guys who have had military service and are now in hospitality also understand leadership better than a lot of people. They want to get stuff done—mission accomplished—but do a good job and motivate others.”
Corporal Jason “JROC” Craig
Co-owner, JRLC1, an independent nightlife-marking consultancy
Served in: U.S. Marine Corps, 2001-04; deployed to Baghdad as an E4 convoy control specialist.
Nightlife career: After the Marines, Craig looked to nightlife, taking “any job I could to get a foot in the door,” he says. “I started out picking up glasses and taking out the trash at Hard Rock Hotel, worked my way up and have never looked back.”
How the Service Helped: For Craig, it’s all about hard work and open doors. “We’re drawn to nightlife for the same reason anyone else is: opportunity,” says the nightlife exec and Vegas socialite. “The opportunities afforded here in Las Vegas are extremely unique. And love it or hate it, there’s no place like it in the world.”
Specialist Luis Lucido
Senior VIP host, Hyde Bellagio
Served in: 221st Cavalry, Nevada Army National Guard, 2005-13; 1-121 Field Artillery Battalion for Convoy Security Missions in Iraq, 2006–07; and Provincial Reconstruction Team Missions in Afghanistan, 2009-10.
Nightlife career: Started at age 21 in security at Pure, LAX and Coyote Ugly. Moved on to promotions host at Privé, “Girl Guy” (host who seats comped tables of females) and then senior host at Blush before “finding my home” with SBE.
How the Service Helped: “The never-quit, always-on, always-focused mentality, the required organization and the ability to respond to anything quickly are absolutely all traits learned in the service,” Lucido says. “You have to be good and driven in the military to make it—even to simply come out alive—and that’s not unlike Las Vegas.”
Sergeant Alex Minuto
Assistant general manager, Gold Boutique Nightclub & Lounge in Aria
Served in: U.S. Marine Corps, 2003–07; deployed to Iraq in 2004
and 2006 with a C-130 aircraft and attached to an anti-terrorist protection unit.
Nightlife career: Sought flexible employment while attending UNLV, and found in nightlife “the perfect match,” Minuto says. He started as a busser and rose through the ranks to become a manager.
How the Service Helped: “At Light Group, customer service is the highest priority, and attention to detail is imperative,” he says. “These principles mirror the lessons I learned while serving my country as a U.S. Marine. Additionally, Marines live by the motto ‘Never give up’—it’s almost like we are tailored for this field, as it can be very demanding at times. But it’s also rewarding, and similar to the military, hard work yields high rewards.”