you read this, I am somewhere over the Atlantic on my way home from the second leg of the trip for the next series of Getaways.
Las Vegas. I have to admit, it was never somewhere that appealed to me. I am not into gambling and it all seemed just like a Butlins for Americans who like Nascar and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Snobbish, I know, but thatís how it is sometimes.
After being there a week, it certainly was an eye-opener. Can honestly say Iíve never seen a place like it. It is the land where the Elvis roam free. One of them might actually be The King, you never know.
I saw about eight of them, some better than others but all jump-suited and caped. Nice work if you can get it.
There is an undeniable and intrinsic link between Elvis and Vegas. It was him and he was essentially it. Whatís the first thing you think of when you think of Las Vegas?
If he hadnít died, heíd probably still be there, performing every night, twice on Saturdays, drugged to the eyeballs and finding it increasingly more difficult to do the karate kicks and remember lyrics.
Elvis was never going to get old. Neither will Vegas. Buildings are remodelled/demolished/replaced regularly. Especially hotels.
Nearly every hotel has a casino in its reception area. Calling it a reception area is actually doing it a disservice.
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Hotel receptions here are about the size of the average housing estate. Huge, rolling acreage of brightly carpeted floorspace occupied by hundreds of gaming machines and tables and people virtually glued to them.
There are no windows, no clocks, time is an abstract concept deliberately. Food and drinks are brought to players free of charge.
If they could put commodes instead of chairs at the one-arm bandits, they undoubtedly would and possibly will. Anything to keep you gambling and happy.
Dutch superstar DJ TiestoDutch superstar DJ Tiesto
Everyone looks too deep in hypnotised concentration to appear to be entirely happy, but itís difficult to judge. Thatís what a lot, and I mean a lot, of people go to Vegas for. Itís the gambling capital of the world.
Las Vegas itself shouldnít exist theoretically. It is an unnatural aberration. Situated in the middle of the Nevada desert, dependent on the extraordinary engineering feat that is the Hoover Dam, it defies logic.
But thatís entirely what Vegas is about. It is a city built on utter lack of responsibility, to cater to every whim and vice known to man and probably a few lesser known ones into the bargain.
Everything you imagine it to be, it truly is and louder than you think. You may think itís crass, tasteless, morally bankrupt. Youíre wrong. It is beyond all those things. It has done that, bought the T-shirt and ramped it up a few thousand notches.
It is so wild in style, it is beautiful. And Vegas doesnít care what you think, it is so beyond you and your cynicism, irony and prejudice. But Vegas will never judge you. It canít really, all things considered.
Vegas isnít about drugs. It IS drugs. The strip is a sensory bombardment. Pumping, overlapping music from every building, people either drunk/hungover/both cruise it looking for the next bit of fun. And there is fun to be had everywhere, but itís really not what you imagine.
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Youíre immediately thinking of the vice that seems to operate below the radar unchecked and unaccounted for. It is and isnít like that at the same time.
Prostitution and drugs etc are there but none of it is forced upon you when you enter the city limits. It never was but it was certainly considered a major attraction since the 1950s.
But Vegas has an ace up its sleeve Ė it is fast becoming the entertainment capital of the world.
Yes, it always had shows and residencies by huge stars on the way to retirement and the last big payout after the arena tours got smaller and smaller, but itís different now.
Those performers are still there, most I knew and some I kinda recognised when they did cameos on some TV show I saw as a kid, but now EDM is the big ticket seller.
EDM is what America calls dance music. And it is absolutely HUGE. The arenas and enormoclubs of Vegas are hosting every big DJ in the world, undoubtedly at astronomical pay packets but it is working.
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Celine Dion may have brought the older generation, but itís Calvin Harris and Tiesto that are filling the place and bringing more of a younger demographic to the city. Add to that the row upon row of designer shops and celebrity chef eateries. Vegas is going upmarket. It is less sequinned jumpsuit and more VIP Pass.
I was there a whole week and didnít gamble once. But I filled the week no problem and could probably do so for another week.
They say anything is possible in Vegas and what goes on there stays there. Thatís down to the individual churchgoer. As a global attraction, you are going to find it hard to avoid knowing what it has to offer.
I went not really interested in going but left wanting to go back again. You have to see it at least once in your life, but Iíd say twice or more would be better.
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