I just returned from a conference in Las Vegas. I had been many times in the past but always for work, never as a tourist. This time I set aside a day to be a tourist.
Well, half a day.
It started with lunch at a simple tourist spot and went on to the wee hours drinking cocktails at a little night-club. All in all it was a great time. We went to dinner at one of the restaurants at the Bellagio overlooking the lake and watched the fountains as we ate our wonderful meal. It was truly one of the best meals I've had in a long time.
After dinner we went to see one of the few remaining classic Vegas shows on the strip; Jubilee at Bally's. It was everything Las Vegas is supposed to be; lots of feathers, sequins, incredible sets and topless women. We saw it just for the sake of seeing such a show and we weren't disappointed.
But none of that is why I think I love Las Vegas.
First you have to understand my relationship with Sin City. It was strictly professional. I went to work on one of the resorts. I was up early every day dragging my tired ass through the casino of the seedy hotel I lived in for weeks at a time and saw the same (or at least the appeared all the same) corpulent, somnambulant beings glued to the stools in front of an assortment of blinking, bleeping gambling machines. Late at night I would return only to find the same scene.
Obviously I was not a fan of the city back then. But that was years ago. And yet the scene in the Hotel lobby remains much the same except this time I was in a much nicer hotel. I don't enjoy gambling, don't even like cards much.
So why do I love Las Vegas?
It's got to be the spectacle. The over the top, unapologetic, completely contrived, utterly unrealistic display of fantasy. The is a corny little version of New York City that is completely devoid of both garbage and the fabulous melange of aromas we have here. There is a black glass pyramid, Venice, Paris and Caesars palace. There is a pirate ship battle and giant robots dancing atop a waterfall that doubles as a video screen (my contribution to the spectacle).
If you look past the street hawkers and all you can eat buffets you'll find great restaurants and fun night clubs where for a little bit too much money you can get caught up in all the spectacle.
And, I'll admit that I'm shallow enough to feel really good about myself when I found myself to be the slimmest, best dressed and most physically fit person in the room on more than one occasion.
I'm not saying I could live there, or even that I would go back but I am glad that after all my time in Las Vegas I finally experienced all the fuss.