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Mike Terry, Deseret Morning News
Nightclub bouncer Big Rob keeps an eye on the VIP section at Park City's hottest club during the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.

PARK CITY — Descriptions like "world class" get thrown around a lot these days. It is one of those promotional catchphrases that have lost their impact through repeated use.

So when people call Park City nightclub Harry O's "world class," and they do it a lot, they mean it in the old-school sense — as in the hottest nightclub in the world.

"It is hard to explain the gravity of what happens in this building," said Konstantine Deslis, who helps the Main Street club book its talent year-round and handles every live event at the club. "Nothing else that happens in the country can compare."

Deslis includes events like the Super Bowl and music award shows when he makes that claim.

"Our lineup ... compares to any MTV Music Awards ceremony," he said.

Indeed, it's hard to argue his point.

The opening night of the Sundance Film Festival featured Akon, who has played a Super Bowl halftime show, won a Grammy Award and held the top two spots on the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time — twice. Not bad for a warm-up.

Friday, the Grammy-winning group Maroon 5 played Harry O's. It wasn't the band's first Sundance appearance, either. In a gig with Utah radio station The End back in the days before Maroon 5 had No. 1, multiplatinum albums, the band raved about its appearance at Harry O's because it had never played in front of such a large crowd before. Now they never play for audiences that small.

"This is the only place you will see Maroon 5 in front of 800 people," Deslis said.

Saturday featured 50 Cent; Sunday, Velvet Revolver; and Monday, One Republic and Keri Hilson. All are big-time performers in the music business.

But, it isn't just the lineup. Two internationally known celebrity-driven clubs for upscale clients — TAO from Las Vegas and the Marquee in New York (dubbed the hottest nightclub in the known universe) — have both taken over Harry O's.

It took three 18-wheelers to bring part of TAO to Park City to transform Harry O's, which has spent upward of $2 million in renovations that include lighting and laser shows and top-notch stage accommodations.

With such additions, Deslis says the club is on par with those in cities like Vegas and Miami because the area around Park City now hosts big names in entertainment.

Cragin Brown, who has helped facilitate events as Harry O's became a satellite club for TAO (known as "MySpace Nights at TAO"), says the importance of Sundance, and the club's Main Street events, can't be overestimated.

"After the holidays it becomes award-show and film-festival season for a jet-setting celebrity. There will be a lot more emphasis this year at Sundance because there were no Golden Globes." So while the writers strike in Hollywood may have killed your television season, it has boosted your favorite local ski town film festival.

"Any celebrity who has a movie coming out will likely be at Sundance," she said.

The Marquee caters to such diverse clients as Sean "Diddy" Combs and Natalie Portman in New York while TAO features a racier atmosphere that Brown described as a "very surreal Asian fusion, Buddhist night club."

Downstairs from the nightclub is Chefdance, organized by owner Kenny Griswold, and it features the same kind of guest list enjoying intimate meals by the best chefs in the world. They can then head upstairs to the nightclub.

While TAO is the biggest place in clubbing, Harry O's is the biggest space on Park City's Main Street, and the only one that can accommodate the kinds of crowds promoters, musicians and partygoers crave. And with the strength of reputation the co-hosting clubs bring, there is nothing that compares to it. As a result, the place gets filled with A-list clients.

But besides the obvious face-recognition stars, the power brokers of Hollywood are in place as well. Deslis estimates that more than 50 percent of those attending the club during Sundance are celebrities on some level.

Some of the club's year-round patrons will also be there. But after the big shots bring their guests and handlers, there isn't much room for anybody else. That's just how organizers like it, to give the celebrity attendees the privacy and comfort of the ultimate night out.

"You can hope for the best," Brown said, "but it really is invite-only."

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