You can feel it the moment you land in the desert city;
The spirit of a city which revels in excess with no holds barred.
If New York is the place to chase the American Dream, then Las Vegas is the place to live it.
Las Vegas Strip, named after the famed Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, is a 4.2-mile stretch of dizzying neon lights and around-the-clock action. At its southern tip lies the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign, brilliantly-designed by Betty Willis as her gift to the city.
And just past it stands the imposing Mandalay Bay Resort – the first in series of decadent hotels located adjacent the Strip. With each one, an open invitation is extended to explore the Big Apple’s concrete jungle, stare down the Egyptian Sphinx, or float along the sleepy canals of Venice. Only in Vegas is King Arthur’s Camelot visible from the observation deck of the Eiffel Tower.
Built through avarice and fueled by vice, these towering mega-resorts serve as a monument to capitalism’s insatiable thirst for more. In fact, there are more hotel rooms on the corners of Las Vegas Blvd and Tropicana Ave than the entirety of Portland, Oregon. Go big, or go home.
Inside these modern castles, slot machines are ubiquitous, as is the lingering smell of old cigarettes chain-smoked by those pulling the lever. Dimly-lit surroundings clash with the colorful flashing lights which so enticingly dance, while cheers and boos from the tables dissolve into barely-recognizable background noise.
The distinct lack of clocks becomes less noticeable as the evening wears on — one lined with plastic chips, complimentary drinks, and an occasional hiatus to the food court. It’s easy to get distracted in the long, winding corridors that blur shopping with entertainment with gaming.
But it is outside these walls that the city’s affable demeanor is most apparent. On the streets of Vegas, buskers dressed as The Avengers solicit photos from passerbys struggling to hold their Yard Dog from Fat Tuesday. Meanwhile, showgirls and club promoters hand out VIP passes to the hottest party in town because in Vegas, everyone is important. In the distance, the High Roller slowly rotates, affording its passengers breathtaking views of skyscraping towers springing up from flat desert.
As the sun begins to set, a contagious sense of electric anticipation flows through the air, as the crowds await memories that will be made through the Vegas night. Spectators huddle around Bellagio’s iconic dancing fountains, as its graceful music is interjected by the hooting and hollering of bachelor parties attempting to recreate The Hangover.
No one is from here, yet everyone finds themselves in Sin City looking to live life to the fullest. After all, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
In a way, Las Vegas is a microcosm of the great nation in which it lies. Here, the Statue of Liberty is just steps away from a colossal Hershey’s chocolate bar and Coca-Cola bottle. And in true melting pot fashion, New York’s famous ShackBurger can be enjoyed with Animal Style Fries from their West Coast rivals down the street.
America is the land of the good life, and Sin City’s ultra-luxurious restaurants, hotels, and nightclubs are a testament to its spirit.
It is mankind’s greatest spectacle, in which you’re the cast, crew, and audience.
So find your seats,
and enjoy the show. ∎