[2009 Nightlife Issue]

Getting In

From nightlife outsider to insider in one year

Illustration: Dan Sipple
C. Moon Reed

In the time of tourism

It takes the skills of a detective to piece together my first encounter with Las Vegas nightlife. There’s the mysterious photo of my hand with a phone number written on it. The memory of being pulled down from a table by my stepbrother. An image of long lines in a golden hallway. Fish tanks? And, of course, puking.

It took me several years to figure out that I had been partying in Jet at the Mirage. That, of course, was long before I even considered moving to Vegas.

My second foray into Vegas nightlife was spent (spent being the operative word) trying to recapture that original moment of Bacchanalian ecstasy. I was still a tourist then, dressed to the nines, wearing more makeup than clothing and accompanied by a small entourage of hot chicklettes. Had any of us known anything about The Way Clubs Are, we would have waltzed to the front of the line or, better yet, asked a nightclub promoter to usher us into the laps of some dudes with bottle service.

In fact, we were doing a disservice to those poor promoters by not being another number in their quota. Not that we knew any of that. Instead, we naively waited in a very long line and then paid a very large cover to get into Ghostbar. By the time we walked into the oh-so-incredible Vegas Club!, we didn’t have any money left to buy drinks. So we wandered around for a little while, feeling excluded by the coolness of the white furniture, and then returned to earth to find an ATM and a second chance.

That is all I remember of that night, so here’s hoping that means it improved from there.

Vegas + socialite = Vegasite

Exactly one year ago, I moved to Vegas. It didn’t take long for me to find the scene. In fact, the scene found me: between the bevy of well-connected new friends and the feverish efforts of promoters and VIP hosts, a fresh new local lady couldn’t escape the scene if she tried. Within weeks of my arrival, I was perching in a gilded birdcage of a club’s most exclusive table, sipping champagne and nibbling chilled strawberries with a procession of celebrities. It sounds like a parody of itself, but the best experiences in Vegas always are.

Naturally, my waking habits slowly crept toward nocturnal. It didn’t take long to feel superior to the clubbing tourists with their once-in-a-lifetime slutty dresses. Or worse, bachelorette-party girls acting as tacky as their flashing penis tiaras. But other than that, I retained the same giddy excitement every time that little hallway opened up into a garden of bass-thumping delights. It was like I still carried the (false) anxiety about getting past the rope, so every time I succeeded was a triumph. Oddly enough, I didn’t have a local ID at this point. I didn’t need one. I was never in a line for the common folks.

Nine months a Vegasite, summer arrived. I splurged on four swimsuits, because I was sure I’d be at a different casino pool party several times a week. I made it to a couple of pool openings, but none lived up to my memory of that time I went to Rehab as a tourist. I started to realize that maybe nothing ever would.

A local, officially

I’m not sure exactly when the shine wore off. Perhaps it was when I finally realized I could get into any club anytime. No anxiety. No excitement. When the primping-to-payoff scale tipped in the wrong direction, suddenly it seemed the fun I’d have at a club wasn’t worth the effort to straighten my hair. Or when I realized that nobody actually swam at these pool parties. (I never made it past those first openings, BTW.) By the time I broke down and got my Nevada driver’s license, my first year in Vegas was nearly complete. I know I was bored of it, because I never used my golden ticket to get into any clubs.

It’s the Circle of Nightlife

Oh! I just now remembered a time before my first Vegas clubbing experience at Jet. I was at the Hard Rock with a local chick. A promoter approached us and invited us to come to Body English. Wooed us with promises of free drinks. How I wanted to go. How I fantasized about seeing the wonderful insides of a real Vegas nightclub. I was also amazed and flattered by the idea of a promoter. Of a person hired to give you a grand entrance just because you were pretty. It was validation and discount all in one glorious, glittery package.

But the chick declined. She couldn’t be bothered. I was heartbroken. And the land of wonders behind-the-velvet-rope-and-down-the-elevator remained a mystery until …


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