The masters of experience stand ready to indulge them. They create ever-higher roller coasters. Ever-more daring glass-bottom bridges. Ever-larger homes. Ever-hotter peppers. Ever-more grandiose cruise ships. Ever crazier bungee jumps and ziplines. Like jumping off the Stratosphere in Las Vegas, some of these pursuits are so intense they have acquired a new label, “extreme entertainment.” It’s not fun unless you suffer a minor heart attack.
Don’t participate in these types of activities? How about movies with brutally explicit violence or nerve-wracking, car-chase scenes? What about restaurants with outrageous decor or beguiling staff? Generation X-tasy is all about the experience:
- Lounges replace taverns – Drinking establishments have had to adapt to the changing preferences of a new experiential generation. In Chicago, taverns, once popular neighborhood watering holes, have plummeted from 7,000 in 1947 to less than 1,321 today. They are simply no match for clubs that provide the type of entertainment pictured above.
- Liquor preference – In the 1950s, gin was the preferred mixer. Today, the spirit of choice is more likely to be vodka, and modern cocktails include the Cosmopolitan or Apple Martini. Because vodka is basically flavorless, it’s an ideal mixer for the more sophisticated cocktails preferred by Generation X-tasy. U.S. sales of vodka exceeded gin in 1967 and surpassed whiskey to become the country’s biggest-selling spirit by 1976. Gallup reports that the broad trend is one of increased preference for liquor with 29% of consumers now naming liquor as their beverage of choice, the highest in 25 years of tracking.
- Las Vegas – Las Vegas is the capital of Generation X-tasy. After Nevada legalized gambling on Mar. 19, 1931, Las Vegas transformed itself from a dusty road stop of 25,000 souls to the “Disneyland of adult entertainment.” Steve Wynn single-handedly put Las Vegas on its current course of palatial excess. The opening of The Mirage in 1987 changed the very definition of experiential entertainment forever.
- Mega resorts and clubs – Las Vegas, or “Sin City” as it’s popularly known, is home to 12 of the top 20 largest hotels in the world. Before the pandemic, it also featured seven of the 10 top-grossing nightclubs. The XS Nightclub, which Wynn opened at the Encore hotel in 2008, secured its top spot on the annual Nightclub & Bar Top 100 list for the third consecutive year after generating about $105 million in 2014, the last year the organization released data. Hakkasan at the MGM Grand ranked second with an estimated take of $103 million, while Marquee at the Cosmopolitan came in third at $85 million. Together, the top 10 nightclubs generate some $500 million in annual revenues.
- Top-grossing restaurant – Las Vegas also leads the nation in top restaurants. Tao Asian Bistro, the restaurant that funnels dinner guests into the Venetian Hotel’s Tao nightclub generates some $65 million in annual revenues, making it the highest-grossing, independent restaurant in America. Tao’s 60,000-square-foot interior features a 20-foot golden Buddha and enough stylish, scantily clad people gyrating on its upper dance floor to provide copious eye candy for its 600,000 annual diners.
- Superpremium – The impact of Generation X-tasy stretches far beyond entertainment. The world’s 2,755 billionaires and 52 million millionaires have pushed the ostentatious luxury trend to limits previously unseen. How about a $238 million for a penthouse apartment in New York? Or a $17.5 million car, the Pagani Zonda HP Barchetta? Care for a $190 hamburger? How about a $100 bottle of water?
In an 1893 play, Oscar Wilde penned his now-famous line: “Moderation is a fatal thing, nothing succeeds like excess.” Were Wilde alive today, he would find plenty of evidence to support that prescient observation. The outlandish has taken on many forms.
“Generation X-tasy” was originally identified by author Michael Tchong. To learn more about this Ubertrend, read “Ubertrends — How Trends And Innovation Are Transforming Our Future.”
Photo of “White Party” at Ruby Skye dance club in San Francisco on Jun. 16, 2006 by Michael Tchong.