Posted On: 03/01/2008
Unless you’ve reserved a booth, achieved C-list Hollywood status or gotten an in with a doorman, when you get to Home, Ameristar Casino’s latest gift to the St. Charles nightclub scene, chances are you’ll end up where I was at 9:30 p.m. a few Saturdays ago: waiting 30 minutes in a thick line of twentysomethings fiddling with their outfits, stomping out cigarettes, eyeing each other, texting friends, shuffling slowly forward (four people allowed in at a time) and hoping the place is worth the wait. After a few hours and few cocktails inside, I came to the happy conclusion that it was. Whether or not you’ll agree depends on your idea of a good time. Note the following:
The space is impressive. A faux-candlelit antechamber off the entrance curves into a dark lounge scattered with a collage of glass-top tables, caramel couches and golden chandeliers leading to a massive, well-stocked bar on the far side nestled under three 42-inch plasma TVs. The dance club itself, which opens off the lounge, screams of smoke, booming house music and flashing lights. A 30-by-60-foot Brazilian walnut dance floor is met with two 30-foot bars on either side and hemmed in lengthwise by 10 giant private booths outfitted with red crocodile upholstery and Xbox game systems – no doubt the best seats in the house. The word upscale is an understatement. Every now and then you have to remind yourself that you’re still in St. Charles. Home is very much its own little Studio 54 – minus all the cocaine and tax evasion.
As the night gets moving, Home very much becomes a place to people-watch. The primarily young crowd is on the prowl; if you’re in the market for your next ex, this is some prime stomping ground, especially while waiting in line for a drink in the more subdued lounge. “Dress code is strictly enforced,” though what this is exactly I couldn’t find out. Think dressy casual. Good-looking jeans are OK for guys, but you might want to match it with a blazer to look like less of a sleaze. The ladies mill about in everything from miniskirts and halter tops to full-on cocktail dresses.
Now for some bad news: There’s a $20 cover charge on weekends/special nights. (Girls, this does not apply to you, so leave the boyfriends at home.) The drinks aren’t cheap, either. Bud Lights run for $4 a pop, gin and tonics for $7 and a Grey Goose Screwdriver goes for $9. There’s no signature cocktail here, so just stick to the basics; the bartenders at Home pour ’em strong and serve ’em up fast. Better yet, find yourself a friend with some deep pockets to tag along so you can commandeer a few couches and indulge in some bottle service, which starts at $175 a bottle. This is a great place to set up base camp for the back and forth from the dance floor.
I was able to take much better notes on my second trip to Home, this time a Thursday. Thankfully, no cover. Thankfully, no music blaring in from the club (it was closed for the night). The lounge’s own DJ station emitted a nice mix of ’70s and ’80s. Also a plus, no line at the bar … no lines at all, actually. Hence the problem: On weekdays Home is a graveyard. By midnight the lounge had reached about 1/3 capacity; this was mostly middle-aged walk-ins from the casino, curious at first and disconcerted after realizing the drink prices. As I leaned back on one of the many open couches and sipped on what had to be the most disappointing gin and tonic ever, I started itching to pull up stakes and hit the blackjack tables.
Whether or not the $15 million Home, brainchild of Ameristar and Vegas-based Angel Music Group, will become a steady contender for the late-night crowd has yet to be seen. It certainly has a lot of momentum. The five-night grand opening party that kicked off around New Year’s featured guests like Kim Kardashian, Wilmer Valderrama, Jaime Pressly and former Miss USA Tara Conner. More tier-three celebs are in the pipeline apparently (I’m crossing my fingers for Don “Wolf” Yates from American Gladiators).
It’s hard – scratch that – impossible to recommend Home as a regular hang out. This is a destination spot, a weekend spot. Much like the Vegas it emulates, this place is a decadent little wonderland of indulgence, a celebration of pure excess – one best enjoyed in small doses and on special occasions.
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