Who Were The Detras?
Who were the Detras? If asked this question, it’s likely that nine out of ten people would shrug their shoulders and not have a clue. Frank and Angelina Detra are not often mentioned in Las Vegas history books or blogs. But, they deserve their due credit. It would be fair to say that they, although not in their thoughts or plans, planted the seeds for the Strip as we know it today.
In 1930, the Detas opened the first nightclub on Highway 91, now Las Vegas Boulevard, the Strip. Their club was the Pair-O-Dice. They opened their club, near where the former Frontier was because they wanted to be outside the city limits and less likely to be harassed by the law. They opened during the nighttime hours and offered both alcohol, that was illegal due to prohibition and illegal gambling. Gambling was not legalized until 1931.
There was little competition in those days on Highway 91. However, after the legalization of gambling, the Red Rooster that was located on the property of today’s Mirage, received the first legal gambling license. The Pair-O-Dice got theirs a few weeks later.
In 1939, a former police officer from LA, Guy McAfee, bought the club from the Detras. McAfee should be remembered as the person who truly had a vision for the Strip. McAfee renamed the club to 91 Club.
The official beginning of the Strip boom started in 1941 with the opening of the El Rancho. The next year, The Last Frontier opened and then in 1946 Bugsy Siegel’s Flamingo opened. Then, from that time through the 50s and 60s dozens of hotel & casinos popped up all over the Strip from Sahara clear down south beyond Tropicana.
Now you know who the Detras were and how important they were to the future development of the Strip that we all love so much. Hopefully, they will retain an important place in the history of the Las Vegas Strip.