There’s not a lot of times that I feel weird about travelling by myself, but the biggest one was when I went to Las Vegas last weekend. One of my favourite bands, The Used, was touring the States and since they weren’t bothering to come to Vancouver I decided their show in Las Vegas was a good excuse to finally visit Sin City.
Fresh from the worst mass shooting in American history Las Vegas seemed surprisingly business-as-usual, although I felt that where I was staying (The Luxor) was much quieter than it could have been. It felt odd seeing the boarded up windows of the Mandalay Bay outside my pyramid room window, and even eerier to be waiting for the Deuce bus just beside the outdoor stage where people had died.
And apart from being frisked and metal detected at the gig, everything felt normal. I guess that’s what you want, not to give into fear, but it also feels odd to just carry on as well. I guess it’s easier because it’s a city filled with tourists. They come and go so quickly there’s no time to be sentimental.
I arrived around lunchtime on a Friday, and cabbed it to my hotel. The Luxor was nice and suitably Vegas-tacky, but it’s faded and desperately needs a facelift. However it was clean and cheap so I was happy. Something I noticed immediately, though, is that no one else was alone. I was surrounded by groups of girls, groups of guys – either on hens or stag nights – surrounded by newly weds or retired couples in shorts and long socks. Eager young teenagers even checked in side by side. My only solo allies were the retirees who sat at the slots, soullessly feeding quarters and puffing on endless cigarettes – the ones with nothing left to live for and didn’t care who knew it.
I shrugged it off and continued to my room (which had two queen beds, a further jab at my solitude). I dropped my things off and changed into my shorts, cursing the fact that I only had the one pair of Docs to wear – not really a great look with shorts – then headed out to explore. My first stop was for lunch, a questionable shrimp quesadilla and an overly sweet pre-mixed margarita.
Next up was the Mandalay Bay to check out the venue I’d be attending that night, the House of Blues. It was easy enough to find, so I turned and headed back towards the Strip and through the Excalibur Casino, with my destination being the rollercoaster at New York New York. One closed road bridge and three fucking more later, I finally got there. On the rollercoaster I sat beside a woman from Salt Lake City, her husband and brother in the seats in front, and her children still in line to catch the next ride. We made idle chitchat, screamed as the ride went around, then parted ways without another glance. It was a fucking awesome rollercoaster, but it gave me such a bad headache.
After the ride I headed back to the hotel to change (it really takes ages to get anywhere in Vegas) and grabbed some takeaway dinner before heading to the show. I had purposely looked up the set times and arrived at what I thought would’ve been just after the opening band had played, but irritatingly they hadn’t even started yet and I had to sit through some crap that my surrounding crowd members lapped up. Thank fuck I was wearing earplugs. Finally The Used hit the stage and they were awesome, as they always are. I just wish their fans weren’t such aficionados of fight circles, because it’s a pain in the ass having to fend off douchebags who can’t dance and who think ramming into each other is funny.
After the gig I went for another wander around the three connected casinos, enjoying one of the yard glass margaritas that every second person seemed to be having. I swear the lady at the counter was withholding judgment as I ordered a drink, by myself in a line full of pairs and wandered off. It was so sickly sweet, lord knows how much sugar was in it. It gave me a hell of a headache the next day. Then I drunkenly returned to my hotel room and watched terrible rom coms until I fell asleep.
On Saturday I had booked myself a tour of the Neon Boneyard in North Las Vegas, so after breakfast I bought a 24 hour bus pass and hopped on the Deuce bus which takes you all the way up the Strip to Fremont Street. From there I was to walk the ten minutes to the museum, and then back again to visit the Mob Museum afterwards. That was a mistake.
It’s a real pity google maps doesn’t take into account the area of places it suggests you walk through, namely whether or not it’s a crack den filled with homeless people and whores. Whether or not a woman by herself (wearing short shorts and showing off her pasty white pins in the ridiculous Nevada heat) should walk that mile beside the freeway, only to witness someone being arrested, realising she was dressed the same as the prostitute on the corner, and also being propositioned by more diseased men in ten minutes than she had ever been in her entire life. Yeah, nah.
Ladies, take a cab.
The museum itself was awesome, and the tour guides were super friendly and informative. They are entirely non-profit, and signs are super expensive to restore so if you want to donate you can click here. They’ve just been donated one of the huge guitar signs from the Hard Rock Cafe, which is very cool. I would definitely recommend going, and it would be even more interesting at night when all the signs are lit up.
After the tour I decided to skip the Mob Museum and instead got a cab back into town and checked out some of the casinos. I saw Caesar’s Palace, the fountains at the Bellagio shooting up in time to Viva Las Vegas, giggled with glee when they started playing ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ at Planet Hollywood, and feasted on crepes at the absolutely gorgeous Paris Las Vegas Casino, which really was like a mini, weird and fakely facaded version of the city of light. It was the only casino I’d gone into where there had been actual effort put into the gaming floors – the ceiling was sky blue with clouds painted on, there was a reconstruction of the ‘Lover’s Bridge’, Metro signs for Montmatre, and the base of the mini Eiffel Tower bursts through the ceiling. The food area as well is styled as old school Paris streets, and I felt very much at home there. It was my favourite casino.
After a long day of walking I hopped the bus back to the hotel and chilled for a couple of hours. For dinner I had an amazing chicken burger at my hotel, then caught a cab to The Mirage where I had tickets to go see Cirque du Soleil’s production of The Beatles LOVE. I’m a diehard Beatles nerd, so when I had a choice of shows that one was a no-brainer. And it was absolutely perfect. I spent the whole time with a massive smile on my face.
After the show I had a few drinks, wandered some more of the Strip to check out the night lights, then bussed it back to The Luxor where I chilled and watched more terrible rom coms until I fell asleep.
So my verdict on Vegas? I liked it, I really did, but I wouldn’t go back there by myself. The spectacle, the faded Americana tackiness, the lights, the weirdos, it’s awesome to experience but it’s one of the few places that I’d say should be done in a group.
So I’ll be back, just with a few friends in tow…
Listening to: The Used
Gigs: The Used, Henry Wagons, Angus & Julia Stone
Reading: Mansfield Park – Jane Austen