When you think of Las Vegas, what comes to mind?
Poker tables, over-the-top shows and half-naked girls, most likely. Debauchery is what the town was built on; it’s the very heart and soul of Sin City. There’s plenty of it to be found, but when you actually live in the city you see a whole different side of it.
As anyone will tell you, there’s no reason to stay longer than 4 days, but somehow I wound up living there for 10 months. I’m still not sure how or why this happened. Maybe it was the 300 sunny days a year or maybe I just got lured in by the palm trees. I have a thing for palm trees.
Before we go any further, let me answer your question. No, I was not a stripper. It’s okay, I know you were wondering – it’s the first thing everyone asks when they learn I lived in Vegas. I worked two jobs, one waiting tables & later bartending (which was really fun) and one being the assistant manager in a Guess store (hands-down the worst job I’ve ever had; worse than making pizza in a skate rink).
Now that you know everyone living in Vegas is not a dancer or casino boss, here are a few other random facts you might not have known:
Each block on the strip is longer than a mile.
Just because you can see it, doesn’t mean you can walk to it. I learned this the hard way. In stilettos. Take a shuttle or a cab, even if you’re only going a few blocks. Or check out the Las Vegas Monorail, which runs parallel to the strip. If you do opt for a cab you’ll need to get in line at a hotel or casino. Don’t try hailing one straight off the street or you’ll be standing there for a while.
Living in Las Vegas is…just like anywhere else.
Walk a bit off the beaten path and you’ll be surprised at how abruptly the glitz and glamour just ends. Totally ordinary people live in stuccoed neighborhoods full of palm trees and pools. They walk their dogs. They read newspapers. It’s not all party, all the time. In fact, most of the people who live there avoid the strip unless they happen to work on it. Sorry to shatter the illusion.
Las Vegas tried (and failed) to market to kids.
Even though ordinary people do live there, it’s no Disneyland. A few years ago the city made a big push to market itself as a family-friendly destination. Shockingly, it didn’t work. Who wants to bring their kids to a place where
hookers social escorts are advertised on the street?
People actually trade those call girl cards.
It’s not uncommon to walk down the street, giant fruity cocktail in hand, and have a gust of wind blow cards with naked girls right into your face. Most people simply toss these cards in the trash or onto the street, but there’s a whole underground trading game. Sort of like ‘Magic: The Gathering,’ but with more nudity.
Prostitution is not legal in the city.
There seems to be some confusion about this, which is understandable considering the blatant marketing for it everywhere. There are even websites to discuss your favorite social escorts. However, while it IS legal in some rural Nevada areas, you can get still get arrested for procuring a lady of the night inside city limits.
Cab drivers have great stories but untrustworthy recommendations.
Want to hear about that time Paris Hilton made out with Billy Joel and a live flamingo? Your cabbie will tell you all about it. Just don’t ask them to take you to “the best strip club” or the “hottest party” because they’re making commission on the side from certain venues. It’s part of their job to talk you out of going to certain places and into others. If you’re flexible, go with it, but take their advice with a grain of salt.
Las Vegas Boulevard isn’t actually in Las Vegas.
The roughly 4 mile stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard known as the strip isn’t even in the Las Vegas township. Instead, it runs through three unincorporated communities known as Paradise, Winchester, and Enterprise.
There’s more to do than gamble or get married by Elvis.
When they say you can find anything in Vegas, they mean anything. Always had a construction worker fantasy? At Dig This, you can drive a bulldozer or excavator around a giant sandbox for grownups. (Yes, you have to pass a breathalyzer test first.)
People live underneath the city.
About 1,000 people actually live in a network of tunnels that were built beneath the city as a drainage system. It can be dangerous if it rains for more than 3 days, since the tunnels fill with water. Most of these people have lost their homes due to drug or alcohol addiction, but some of them hold regular day jobs.
It’s ALL about the money.
There are urban myths everywhere about people harvesting their grandmothers’ organs for cash. I don’t know whether that has ever actually happened, but in 1980 a nurse at Sunrise Hospital was arrested for killing a patient to rig a betting pool. According to reports, she and the other nurses would place bets on when their patients would die.
Interestingly enough, in all my time in Vegas I have never gambled. At least not with my own money. 🙂
Ever been to Las Vegas? What’s your favorite crazy memory?