What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?
Well, I’m spilling the beans.
The first adventure I had in the United States was traveling to Vegas on a road trip with my good friend, Mr Organised. For the first time in my life I experienced real jetlag.
Mr Organised wanted to ensure that I got the most out of my three day road trip, planning every detail of what could be done and enjoyed. He wanted to give me the best experience of the place that he enjoys so much. I wanted to sleep the jetlag off.
What I noticed about Las Vegas, nestled in the arid desert mountains of Clark County, Nevada, is that there only really seems to be one raison d’être for this place. Pleasure. Adult pleasure. Most of it embodied in the form of gambling. Then drinking. And maybe a little prostitution thrown in on the side. All veiled under the glitzy facade of fountains, neon tubes and strobe lighting. You can add a veneer of paint to make the place look like Venice, you can roll out Cher in a wheelchair to thrust against her colostomy bag turning back time six shows a week, but in this place they need you to spend your hard earned dollars to end up in their pockets. This strange kind of thievery is one that the punter is completely complicit in. And they are very well trained at making you enjoy the experience.
The Strip is a greatest slight of hand that dazzles you into believing that you have arrived at some kind of Mecca. You could walk out of this place suddenly a million. This land is built on a dream. The dream-scape that makes up The Strip blinds you into an ever bigger and better illusionary world. Caesar’s Palace, The Paris, New York New York, MGM Grand, The Luxor, The Excalibur, The Venetian … all themed casinos and hotels to give you the experience of living in a different place and a different time while you hand them over your wallet. Even the more expensive Bellagio and Encore establishments give you the high end treatment of robbing you blind in a very posh way. But once again, you can’t help but enjoy the experience.
Each of these establishments generally offer a free show in the grounds facing the strip. Another way to entice you into the casino doors. The Bellagio do it flawlessly. It’s infamous water fountains throwing even more and more water high into the sky while Elvis is singing through selectively places speakers around the artificial pond. It really is quite something to see. Having lived in Melbourne, Australia for the past few years, where rain is scarce and people live under tight water-restrictions, this showy use of water in an arid climate makes me feel a little unnerved.
Other free shows tend to slide in their level of professionalism. Outside the Treasure Island Hotel there is quite an underwhelming showdown between male and female pirates in Sirens of TI. The men, shirtless, have not been hired for their movement skills. The women are a line up of rejected Pussy Cat Dolls. Now, this may make me sound somewhat geriatric, but in my day when you signed on for a contract to do a gig, you did it well regardless of how poor that material was. Lord knows, we’ve all had THOSE types of gigs. It’s what’s known as professionalism. So imagine my shock to see some of these girls just marking time throughout the choreography. Maybe with a little more effort they wouldn’t be overshadowed by a sinking ship and fireworks.
[N.B.: Related photos can be seen here.]
Continues in Part Two.