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SUNDAY BRUNCH | GREATER L.A.

Everybody, Next to the Pool!

July 19, 1998|MICHAEL P. LUCAS

LAS VEGAS — The night is warm, the music is hot and Dain Craig, a radio executive from Salt Lake City, is working up a sweat dancing near the crashing waterfall and ducking into his group's private cabana to check on the sports scores.

Twice a week, as the blazing-red dusk fades to black, the Hard Rock Hotel parlays its live music and highly rated swimming venue into an irresistible take on an old desert tradition: the pool party.

For Craig, who is unwinding with a group of co-workers who jetted over for a daylong junket, this is not a bad way to rev up for the evening.

"Everybody knows the music here is the greatest," he shouts over the backbeat rhythm of the Rastafarian-rooted band Upstream, pounding through a near-stadium-size sound system.

Fridays are for reggae. Headliners such as Azz Iz draw revelers from twentysomethings to boomers turned out in everything from swimwear to evening wear. Wednesdays feature swing bands, and the crowd is overwhelmingly youthful, beautiful, fashionable

Dancers crowd around a pool that was recently declared the best in town by Scope, the local arts and lifestyle tabloid. Cigar girl Nora Cooke, raised in chilly Seattle, squeezes through the crowd offering fragrant $14.50 Macaenudos.

"I never get tired of these warm nights," she says breathlessly. "Everything is just so alive."

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