Rosanne Barr once said “I actually get more conservative when I’m in Vegas”. Now I’ve visited, I can I understand this sentiment. My stay in Las Vegas was at one of the city’s smartest hotels, one of only fifteen 5 star plus hotels in the world. It was the height of luxury and I was extremely lucky to have the good fortune to have a Fairy Godfather who made it possible for me to stay there. For three days I revelled in the joy of waking up between crisp white sheets, languidly stretching one arm out, pressing a little button beside my bed and watching lazily as the heavy bedroom curtains silently glided open to reveal Las Vegas basking in the morning sunshine through my spotlessly clean room height windows. Then I’d clutch my head, stagger out of bed and attempt to find my discarded clothes amidst the empty champagne bottles, cigarette butts and mini-bar contents strewn across the floor.
That last sentence was a joke, did you realise?! Anyway, back to Rosanne Barr’s quote. She might not have meant it in quite the same way as I’m taking it (I’ve no idea what her normal life is like) but I found Las Vegas completely over-whelming, a sensory overload in every way possible. The sparkle and glitter, the lights, the noise, the tempo and pace of it all was like nothing I’d experienced. Far from making me want to propel myself into the centre of the action, cocktail in one hand and ciggie in the other (I loved that you could smoke in the casinos), the over-powering magnitude of Las Vegas completely dwarfed my self-confidence. Everywhere I went people looked occupied; busy gambling or having fun with friends. I felt I was invisible, floating through the casinos like a ghost. I couldn’t see any access points for myself, where I could side-step smoothly into the social frenzy without looking like a giant, friendless lemon.
The only two people I had conversations with outside my hotel were Vzongo from Croatia, a nice croupier who gave me a blackjack lesson, and a kind old American man who came to my rescue when I clearly looked like I didn’t know what I was doing with the electronic blackjack machine. He was right, I had no idea. When I add that I lost all the money I gambled, not that it was much, it will come as no surprise. You have to be quick and smart to gamble and as a total beginner, I was neither of those things (I am, of course, both of those things normally).
So yes, I became more conservative in Las Vegas, much to my own surprise. The aura of the city has a curious effect I think, normal emotions become heightened and for me it was the sense of being on my own, up until that point I’d been quite content with my solo traveller status. I didn’t stay out late, I didn’t have any ‘big’ nights, I tried to spend my money, er, wisely. Instead I spent time by the peaceful hotel pool, enjoying the people-watching, reading my book and inspecting my midriff to check if it was looking any thinner.
Now I’m in Hawaii and everything is back to normal. I’d go back to Las Vegas again, definitely, but I wouldn’t go on my own.