Dear Zappos employee: Downtown tips for suburbanites on the move

If you want to complain about the weather or the economy or risking your life for custard, move somewhere else. Being a true Las Vegan means loving unconditionally.
Illustration: Ryan Olbrysh

Now that you’re moving from the suburbs into Downtown Las Vegas, you should know what’s in store for you psychologically. Gated suburban communities have rigid HOA rules, but amid those blasé lines of matching houses and neighborhoods with postage stamp-size yards lives a free-thinking society, a place where individuality can (surprisingly) reign within the anonymity of the stucco-fied American west.

Downtown Las Vegas is completely different—a quaint, small, passionate and proud community full of the alliances and unspoken doctrines found in all quaint, small, passionate and proud communities. But say the wrong thing and your world will explode. Move away from Las Vegas and you will be deemed a traitor. It’s best just to blend in. If you must leave, do so quietly in the night. But assimilation is possible! Your relocation is still a ways off, so while you’re getting to know your new digs, keep in mind that there are things to keep in mind. No commandments have been uncovered, but here are some helpful tips for a seamless immersion in Downtown life.

•Don’t complain about the heat. No exceptions. This is Las Vegas, not the rest of the country where complaining about the weather is natural. So what if generations of Southerners have griped about their region’s heat and humidity, even embraced it in song and literature? Complaining about heat in Las Vegas can be construed as an affront to the city and its native people. Chances are you have moved here from a place where complaining about the wind (Chicago or San Francisco) or the cold (a state in the upper Midwest where minus-20-degree days last most of the year, broken only by one month of soul-killing humidity) is commonplace. That was there. This is here. You can take the heat. You like the heat.

•Actress Mindy Kaling is not welcome Downtown without a tour guide. If you need to ask, don’t. Just google Mindy Kaling and Luv-It Frozen Custard.

•Natives vs. outsiders: You will likely hear these terms often. A native is someone born in Las Vegas. An outsider is someone who has moved to Southern Nevada in the last 20 years or the last 20 hours (some don’t distinguish between the two). The rivalry between Downtowners and suburbanites and long-timers and short-timers has created a strange concoction of McCarthyism, Warren Jeffsism and Bush-era patriotism wafting from Downtown conversations. “Outsiders” is also a term used frequently for writers who live elsewhere but report on Las Vegas’ economy and culture. Sometimes their reports are false and lazy, and we respond with our own stories. Other times the stories are well-researched and accurate, but you must speak out against them anyway. If a mall on the Strip is habitually empty of shoppers and someone from another city reports that, mentally stone them with evil thoughts. Mainly, remember that if you are not born here, you are an outsider. You have no legitimate argument. Learn to live with it.

•Sip, don’t gulp, the Margorilla at Bar + Bistro. Don’t underestimate the might of this dangerously delicious alcoholic beverage. Drinking too much too quickly could lead to a fall down a concrete staircase and a day of bed rest with bags of frozen edamame on your lower back and head.

•Publicly deride suburban gated neighborhoods and share stories about how you accidentally followed a car into a neighborhood that looks just like yours on your way home from a long day at the office (which some of us have actually done). In fact, move Downtown and say goodbye to those crazy gates all together. The only things gated in your new ’hood are the parks—Boulder Plaza Sculpture Park, Neon Boneyard Park and, figuratively, Huntridge Circle Park. (We just can’t have nice things!)

Happy moving!

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Kristen Peterson

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