Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Saturday Night in Sin City

In the era of Nouveau Vegas, this casino has a nineteen fifties seediness to it. Even the chips look cheap, their pastel colors and Monopoly printing mocking the denominations they supposedly represent. It is an hour and a half wait in line to get into the night club. The investor, who presumably knows the cost of everything, handles the negotiation. It occurs to me that there are multiple paths to this destination a) "immediate" reserved for habitues, celebrities, the preternaturally cool or beautiful b) the "short" line for those with the knowledge, confidence and economic wherewithal to master the system and c) the regular line for, well, for people like myself. "Wasn't he offended when you offered him the cash," I ask the investor, once we've been shepherded into the five-mintue line. He responds matter-of-factly "Are you kidding, there's no way you could offend these people. The whole reason they work that job is to get spiff." I stand corrected, I guess the possibility of a Las Vegas bouncer being offended is rather preposterous. "Well," I ask "how did you know how much to pay him? Did you ask?" He answers "There's a difference between handing him a twenty at which point he'd ignore you and handing him a $100, where he'll take care of you. I just handed him $30 per person." Hmmh, there is a short line and it costs $30 per person, I absorb the knowledge that I will never apply. I imagine myself trying the same manoeuvre and, low point of humiliations, being snubbed by a Las Vegas bouncer who takes me for a gauche out-of-towner, either offering too little or too much, and who even if she offered the right amount, couldn't master a petty bribe with panache.

Once inside the club, it is apparent why the normal line has an hour and a half wait. The bodies are packed in every single part of the club, not just the dance floor. A hoochie girl carelessly stabs the back of my foot with her heel. Wincing with pain, I give her a sharp look. She defiantly glares back at me. I'm not going to get an apology out of her and educating her on the polite and civilized course of action, given the circumstances would be an utter waste of time. The music is modern hip hop, the lighting set up evokes a sort of late seventies retro future look, with frames that spin around and every now and then shoot out fire. The voice booms "It's Saturday night in Sin City." Oh really? Presumably people are happily sinning in many other locales, but hey it's all about branding. I look around, taking in the tableau of "sin" that offers itself up at this Las Vegas nightclub. It reminds me of something. I tap one of my companions. "All that's missing, is for the blood to start coming out of the ceiling sprinklers." He gives me an indulgent smile. He either a) hasn't seen "Blade" b) doesn't think I'm funny c) can't hear a word I'm saying against the booming music. I survey the rhythmically throbbing bodies. The hoochie heel mutilator is rather representative of the crowd, whose dress code and appearance leans more to North Jersey than vampire chic. It's Saturday night in Sin City.

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