No matter which direction I travel, I’m usually in the far left lane of the 15 when I pass through the city that never sleeps. That’s the fastest way to get through this morass of humanity commonly known as Las Vegas. But not this time. This time I’m taking a motorcycle to one of the convention centers in one of the major hotels. It’s to be a prize in a drawing to be won tomorrow. Once delivered, I have 24 hours to see the sights and enjoy the scenery before picking the bike up and returning it from whence it came, to be shipped to the winner.
The casinos all look the same from the inside. Yes, I know, they have different owners, different names, different themes, and each has gone out of its way to be certain that your gambling experience is unique, but likeness abounds: row upon row of slots, whirring and clacking and clicking and clanging, clocks absent, windows non-existent, as though night-time pervades 24 hours a day.
Of course, the drinks are free, as long as you’re parked in front of a gaming table or a slot machine. Management’s hope is that you’ll drink more and spend more. Many do.
When you get tired of gambling, you can take a walk outside to see the spectacular light shows evident up and down the ‘strip’, as Las Vegas Boulevard is so inelegantly called. Illuminated fountains, laser lights, neon and glass all make for a splendid show for even the most jaded traveler. The only problem is this: after exhausting yourself by walking around, you find that there’s nowhere to sit down and rest, except in front of a slot machine or a gaming table.
How did I do, you may wonder? Well, 20 in the slots got me 204, and as one of the lucky ones who knows when to fold ’em, I took my money and left.
Thus did I eventually take a side trip to view a highly recommended show in its own right, one where the chairs were soft and plentiful, with armrests attached, where the ambiance was favorable to a hard-riding individual such as myself: dim lights, dark interior, and loud, pounding music.
I was in a 24-hour peeler bar (strip club, for you non-Canadians), watching the dancers perform their special magic. If you’ve never been to one of these places, it’s worth a trip in it’s own right just to see how they do it in Vegas. The drinking age here, as in most states, is 21, but that doesn’t stop 18-year-old girls from dancing. They get a wrist band, to remind both management and patrons that they musn’t be served alcohol.
Many a dancer did her job admirably by stopping by for conversation, trying to lure me into funding a floor dance. I spent a considerable amount of time talking to the girls. Although some were disappointed that I wouldn’t spend money on a floor dance and consequently abandoned me to solitary confinement at my table, more than a few would talk for extended periods about their various backgrounds and dancing experiences around the country.
Competition is fierce, and long hours are the norm if a dancer wants to make good money. She pays a fee to dance in the club. If she’s late for her shift, she pays a fine. If she misses her scheduled appearance on-stage, another fine is levied — unless she is doing a floor dance. After all, dancing for a customer is her primary responsibility.
Real names are never traded. Ask her what her name is, and she’ll come up with her stage name, of course. No, no, your real name, the men want to know, and she throws out another name. Thus I give them names by where they say they are from.
So then, Roadie from Rhode Island, Berdoo from San Bernardino by way of San Diego, Francine from Dijon and Tory from Toronto, here’s to you. Thank you for the time spent relaxing at my table. May your smiles be never-ending, your conversations interesting and your tips bountiful.