In Las Vegas, every night holds the promise of two things: karaoke and discounts for women. Despite some spirited railing against the latter resulting in anti-discrimination lawsuits and bans in a handful of states, ladies’ night is solid in Nevada. Vegas venues ranging from climbing gyms to brunch spots embrace the idea of stirring up business by treating ladies. Nightclubs on the Strip value the model so much that promoters sling passes to groups of girls almost as aggressively as the porn slappers (who, incidentally, never discriminate). But what about the local hangouts?
Wednesdays, I could learn to line dance while downing $1 wells at Revolver. Thursdays, it’s Chicas Night Out at Mercadito, with $8 margaritas, complimentary chips and salsa and a luxury raffle for women partying in packs. That same night, the Las Vegas Bull invites cowgirls to drink for a buck and ride the mechanical beast for a chance at cash and prizes (“plus a free bikini”). McFadden’s even dedicates Fridays to “Lucky Ladies,” with free Champagne after 10 p.m. and giveaways of gift cards and show tickets. I could go on.
Is ladies’ night unfair? Yes. Did I take advantage? Totally.
Wednesday is the official night at Blue Martini, but I wanted to check out Thursday’s Noches Azul, alternately billed as Latin Ladies Night. Corona, Modelo and shots of well tequila are $5 for women, with all-you-can-drink select cocktails for $10 from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Add hot music, and this Town Square staple is ripe for winding down, or up, on a weeknight.
I slide into a barstool just after 10 and get treated to a Stomp-style jam, courtesy of bartenders clapping and clanging ice scoopers and shakers to the DJ’s beat. It’s early, but the good mood is already fat and getting fatter. Twosomes and foursomes and bigger groups of ladies are plentiful, some doing shots and others sipping. Men are everywhere, too, adding a layer of energy (and cigar smoke).
The dancefloor moves to Enrique Iglesias’ “Bailando,” the sick thump of Reggaeton and—you knew this was coming—a remixed “Macarena.” Two girls twirl together until their guys cut in for what looks like synchronized foreplay.
Even though it’s my lady-given right to attack cheap tequila, I tell bartender Kenny that I don’t feel right about doing shots alone. He laughs, asks what I like and whips up a Ginger Gypsy ($14)—Ketel One Oranje, pomegranate liqueur, ginger beer and cranberry. It looks like honey in the bar’s lamplight, and the taste is perfectly crisp with ginger and tart fruit. I nurse my shaker for a couple of hours, unable to contain my chair-dancing when a bartender busts out the flashlight strobe.
Sunday isn’t such an easy sell, even though it was the day of the most epic ladies’ night of my life many years ago in a quaint English village. (Let’s just say four women should never take down eight bottles of wine, even if they are buy one, get one free.) Maybe Double Helix wanted to capitalize on being atypical when it launched Keepin’ It Classy in February, offering ladies $4 whiskey and sparkling cocktails from 8 p.m. until close on the churchgoers’ day of rest.
I’m a lady. And whiskey is my love. So I convince Neighbor Boy to set aside his feelings about men getting a raw deal to check out ladies’ night at this lounge just below Blue Martini. For $19, he gets a flight of red wine. For $6 ($2 extra for going off-promo), I get an Old Fashioned with George Dickel. It goes down so smooth that I’m done before Neighbor Boy has conquered a single pour, perhaps because “lady” drinks aren’t as whiskey-forward. Perhaps because I know I can get another tasty lowball with the parking-meter fund that lives in my purse.
But scanning the menu’s transcendent bourbon section, it strikes me that I’d rather pay $12 for Willett on the rocks. If it weren’t for the $4 classiness aimed at “female tipplers,” however, I wouldn’t be sitting here enjoying. Maybe the real gift of ladies’ night is that it draws us out to have actual lives, and sometimes to bring the men with us.