Sin City Redux

Paris to the Pyramid by Justin in SD from FlickrThis weekend I’m off to Las Vegas for a bachelor party. This will mark my second trip to Vegas. Well, the second trip where I’m over the age of sixteen. When you’re a minor, a trip to Las Vegas involves wandering around in a lot of places where you’re not allowed to loiter.

As an adult, though? As an adult Las Vegas is unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. The comparison to Disney World is bandied about a lot and I do believe that comparison holds. It’s a destination designed entirely for fun.

Other cities are fun, and I’ve had fun in them, and I will visit them again and have fun…but they’re also cities. They have other things like factories or train yards or warehouses or ports or office complexes. Other things take place there. People live their lives there. And then fun spots crop up to provide those people entertainment.

With Las Vegas the entertainment side of things is the city. The games came first, then the city started growing. Then came shows and bars and cuisine and rides and attractions and fight nights and clubs. And, granted, I will most likely partake of absolutely none of those things outside of the gambling, but they’re there. They make up the backdrop. You walk by a window and some gigantic plasma screen with Wayne Newton’s face on it is gleaming down on you and behind him are signs and ads and marquis like a great sea of stimulation.

Again, will I go see Wayne Newton? No. But for some reason the fact that, if I wanted to, I could duck out and catch a show or grab a world class steak, adds to the excitement.

I live in New York and there are steaks here and I’m told there are shows here as well. But I never go to them. And if I’m out with friends, we all stick together for the most part and doing something completely off the wall is a rare occurrence. Acting off the wall is perfectly common, but it happens at the normal bars or in Duane Reade on the walk home. The night never detours suddenly into a concert.

My first trip to Las Vegas was a few years ago and I was excited but nervous too because it was my first time; I was the rookie of the group. I was expecting my friends to have certain routines down pat and to know the passages to fun and I would have to learn the ropes.

This time I get it. There are no routines. There are no set patterns. The entire city is the setting, not just a few hangouts. It’s nobody’s normal and that means that the rules are all up for grabs. Crazy is encouraged. Disappearing is perfectly natural. Texting after a six hour hiatus to explain that you’re in a pool somewhere makes perfect sense. And, oh, you can get to the pool by taking a moving walkway.

You don’t visit the city; you get set loose in it.

Because it’s Las Vegas.

Because it’s there for fun.