“What are you doing?”
CM stared at me hopping along the sidewalk, which was littered with photo cards of topless girls. They had been dropped, it seemed, in horror like hot potatoes, by other pedestrians who were automatically accepting whatever was being handed to them on the street, without clocking what they were holding until it was too late.
“I can’t stand on the pictures of the women. It’s disrespectful! I have to step over them. They are real you know..!”
CM rolled his eyes and muttered something about only parts of them being ‘real’, as my pseudo-feminist stance was quickly negated by my inability to finish my sentence as I was distracted when a bus with The Chippendales on the side – slick, oiled and (eye poppingly) ripped – pulled up.
That’s the thing about Las Vegas. You have to let yourself enjoy it. You have to put aside the knowledge that your mother would probably hate it; that parts of what goes on are seedy, to say the very least; and embrace the Disney for Adults that it offers. Don’t over-think it. It’s a playground, an escape, a place to do exactly what you want to do. The rules are what you make them. It is a completely crazy place and I love it.
That said, if I were making the rules, here would be ones that I would enforce:
-NO kids. At all. They should not even be allowed to get off the plane at McCarran International. I’m the mother of a 10 year old and there is no way I’d ever take her to Vegas. I’m not a prude, I’m not a child-hater, but there are simply some things that young children should not have to have explained to them. And, as importantly, I don’t want to have to moderate my behavior to accommodate children in a place that is so evidently inappropriate. Children should not be dragged around late at night being exposed to things which will make them ask questions to which there are no suitable answers. They should be in bed, sleeping.
-NO ridiculous footwear during the day whilst walking The Strip. The famous main drag in Vegas is 4.2 miles long, on which you will find everything you want, including a replica of Venice’s Grand Canal in the middle of a shopping mall. You will walk up and down The Strip numerous times in the heat (Vegas has a typical average daytime summer temperature of 98F, dropping to 60F in winter), so tottering around in Louboutins isn’t a great idea. Believe me, I’ve done it.
-NO obligation to gamble. I’ve been to Vegas a few times now, always with CM , who is well known for his poker playing skills and who is a regular in Sin City. We haven’t been near a poker room or a Blackjack table. Instead, we have eaten in some of the country’s best restaurants, shopped in some of the best appointed malls the US has to offer; we took in Cirque du Soleil and Elton John (fortunately not Celine Dion), had a very fun few hours in a bar with piano dueling, enjoyed the facilities at some superb hotels and, when we couldn’t be bothered to walk any further, we sat and people watched. A fascinating activity in itself. There is no Vegas ‘type’. It’s a place for everyone. And boy, I mean everyone.
-NO secrecy. Of course, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” should certainly ring true (I really don’t need to know what your PA got up to last weekend with Mike from Marketing), but there is so much more to the city than the cliché of sex with strangers and downing cocktails through a beer bong whilst covered in foam. With restaurants, shopping, entertainment, escapism and high quality accommodation provided by timeshare owners renting out their units so you can have more space and flexibility for less money (for example in the Marriott Grand Chateau ) it really is something to shout about as a vacation destination.
As you fly in at night from the west coast, either as a Vegas Virgin or as a regular, I defy you not to feel excited at the sudden appearance of lights slap bang in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Established as a city in 1911, Las Vegas was best known as a staging point for mines in the surrounding area until in 1935 the completion of the Hoover Dam brought increased tourism to the city. It was the legalization of gambling in 1931, however, which saw the development of the famous Vegas casino hotels, which have their own recognizable landmarks and features. The skyline of New York, the Pyramids, the Eiffel Tower, gondolas, breathtaking fountains – you name it, it’s there.
Eighty years later, the glamour and glitz still show and if you suspend your disbelief, you can’t help but smile.