By Nancy Trejos
LAS VEGAS — Joe Siquig didn’t have a bachelor party before getting married four years ago.
So four years later, he finally threw the epic party he didn’t get to have. But this time, it was for his divorce.
He hired Vegas party planner Sam Zand, CEO of Vegas Atmosphere, to reserve the best cabana at the Venetian’s TAO Beach, which has played host to the likes of Jay-Z and Heidi Klum.
On a warm Saturday afternoon in October, 31-year-old Siquig and a group of male friends are dancing with bikini-clad women in their private cabana, which hovers over the pool like a stage. Pop songs blare over speakers. Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines throws everyone into a frenzy. Some of the ladies climb on the sofas and tables.
A flat-screen TV is playing Judge Judy. She’s overseeing a case between feuding exes.
Siquig doesn’t pay attention to that. He’s having cocktails while chatting with Zand and a male friend. Two models hired by Zand urge him to dance whenever he has been sitting or standing still too long. Eventually, Siquig takes off his bright blue T-shirt and jumps into the crowded pool in his swimming trunks, clutching a dinosaur-shaped float.
“When I got divorced, I was so sad, but now I know there’s more to life,” says Siquig, a Vegas resident who works in information technology. “It’s like a new start.”
For decades, Las Vegas has billed itself as the marriage capital of the world. It has also clinched the title of bachelor and bachelorette party capital, thanks to the wildly successful Hangover movie franchise. Even Michael Douglas’ middle-aged soon-to-be groom spends his last single days partying in Vegas in the recently released Last Vegas.
Demand is on the rise
Now, Vegas has become a popular destination for a new type of party celebrating a different milestone: a divorce. Party planners are increasingly adding divorce parties to their repertoires because of the increased demand from men and women alike. If a bachelor party is the last chance to be naughty for a while, then the divorce party is the first chance to be naughty again.
“It’s about creating a new chapter in your life,” says Glynda Rhodes, who started her Vegas-based business, The Divorce Party Planner, after going through her own divorce. “There are so many days you want to stay home and be dark. Now it’s about: What do you want to do with your life?”
There were 2.1 million marriages in 2011, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s 6.8 marriages per 1,000 people. There were almost half as many divorces: 3.6 per 1,000 people.
“Divorce parties are gaining in popularity because, unfortunately, there are a lot more divorces these days,” says Warren Berkowitz, product development manager for the New York-based Forum Novelties, which has seen an increase in demand for divorce-related party favors.
Forum Novelties created a “Divorced Diva” line for women celebrating their divorces. Among the most popular items: tiaras and boas to wear while bar-hopping as well as dartboards, piñatas and doormats with pictures of exes.
“Anything that is frivolous and not overly offensive is popular,” he says.
Party planners say the celebrations can involve limo rides down the Strip to such exclusive nightclubs as Hyde at the Bellagio or places to watch exotic dancers like Sapphire Las Vegas. Or they can include a trip to a shooting range where a picture of your ex is your target. Or they can feature a private pole-dancing class at Stripper 101. Some divorcees just want dinner out with their closest friends.
The planners, who typically also plan bachelor and bachelorette parties, say they can deliver on pretty much any request because Vegas has a variety of entertainment options — naughty or nice.
“Vegas has so much to offer. We just kind of take advantage of it,” says Rhodes, who also organizes regular mixers that she calls “Divorced … the New Single.”
Dan Nunes, owner of VegasVip.com, says he gets requests for divorce parties about once a month, and they typically come from women in their 30s and 40s. The average price is $250 a person, and the average group size is six, Nunes says.
“It’s almost sort of like a middle-aged bachelorette party,” he says. “They have a little more disposable income, so usually they are a lot more extravagant.”
Nunes will arrange for them to get on a pink party bus or a limo to a male revue. Sometimes, he will hire a B-list celebrity to entertain them.
One client asked for a Champagne shower. He bought them a magnum of Veuve Clicquot. He also got smaller bottles of Champagne, popped the corks and had Champagne shower the women. The price tag: $3,000.
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