Monday, September 29, 10 p.m.
There are two sides to every prom: There’s the dreamy, romantic image of what the night will bring, coupled with anticipatory outings to check things off a fantasy shopping list. And then there’s what really happens.
How do I know? I’ve been to five proms, and tonight is my sixth. Granted, four of those have been Vegas Prom, an adultified, post-high school, industry nightlife experience for Las Vegas locals, but the prep has always been pretty much the same. Dress, shoes, date.
“I wanted to look like a cupcake,” says my elevator-mate, on her way from the parking garage as we chat about each other’s outfits, hers a puffy pink-and-black Western barmaid affair, mine a vintage number straight out of Mad Men and complete with gloves and a bouffant ’do. I wait for my date, Deanna, at the bottom of the Mirage escalators. I got over the “but does she put out” jokes about a week ago.
Pretty industry couples with perfect hair and skin glide past in matching corsage sets and coordinated dress/tux vest arrangements. We then enter via Bare’s winding, tropical approach, where marketing director and co-founder of Vegas prom (along with BoTown’s Bo Karlen and Chad McGeehan aka DJ Vegas Vibe) Kalika Moquin is resplendent as a Calla Lily in a white satin trumpet dress.
The pool deck has been transformed, with a dark, carpeted wooden dance floor erected over the pool (it was meant to be Plexiglas but on trial, it cracked) and the VIP area open to all. With a crowd composed purely of the nightlife industry’s workforce, now would not be the time to start sorting any haves from have-nots. They all have.
At one cabana sits George Maloof, nominated for “Most Likely to be the Next Mayor of Las Vegas.” At the others are entire nightclub staffs—one after the other—all the way around the place. Someone even appears to have brought their mother, which is a ballsy move even now. I guess that’s the point—using tonight to assert “how far we’ve come.”
Throughout the night, the winners of the “Most Likely tos” and the “Best this and thats” are announced from the largely empty dance floor. Maloof wins for Next Mayor, promoter Tiffany Masters for “Most Likely to Reintroduce Themselves to You More Than 10 Times.”
“Throw me under the bus,” she says, “it’s the truth!” When the Prom Court is finally announced, it is hard to get everyone’s attention, as the night has slid irretrievably into a bottle of Patron and intends to stay there.
In the end, via 75 countries and 73,000 online votes, Jon Gray of the Palms and Andrea Duran, formerly of LAX and Noir, were crowned King and Queen; Body English’s Justin Crews and Jaimee Lee (little sis to Tracy Lee of NapkinNights) were crowned Prince and Princess.
I dance one slow song with online voting coordinator Jack Colton and quickly retreat to the 3400 house room of Jet. What can I say? My tastes have changed.
Four years ago, at the first Vegas Prom: A White Dream, held Labor Day weekend at Green Valley Ranch’s Whisky Sky, I wrote this: “At 18, it was a rite of passage, something to both look forward to and dread just before heading off to college, the next big thing to both look forward to and dread. At 27, it’s a chance to re-create and relive the good stuff without the painful and embarrassing details like braces, acne, peer pressure and the sheer frustration of almost-but-not-quite being an adult. This time, I can have my prom and my champagne, too.”
Rereading that now, I laugh at my own innocence. Four years gone and we’re in a far more cynical place, almost like we’ve lived and relived senior year over and over again since that first go. Words like “election,” “Palin” and “recession” float on the night’s cool breeze, and more than one young lady, like me, boasts about having frugally reused a dress for the night. “Prom with Money, prom where the punch already comes spiked,” read the event’s preamble on the Vegas Prom website. Well, thanks to Deanna’s flask, we’ve got the spiked punch, but as for the money … maybe next year.