As the saying goes, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas (there is even a sign that greets you with such when you land at the airport). But I am going to let you in on the secret of what really happens in Vegas. It involves one crazy night I spent in Vegas for New Years Eve, and which doesn’t seem that far from the plot of the Hollywood blockbuster, The Hangover. It also rivals that time we were on a flight with Brad Pitt as my best travel story.
After spending Christmas in New York, we ventured down to the Adult’s equivalent of Disneyland to ring in the New Year. On the final afternoon of the year our male travelling companions decide that they wanted to have a punt, and we head to Bellagio to try our luck. Whilst the boys do their thing at the three-card poker tables, the girls wander off to look for the most appealing poker machines. All around us there are scantily clad waitresses repeating ‘cocktails, cocktails’. Yes it is true that the drinks are free in the Vegas casinos; however you must be gambling and you are expected to tip (don’t expect them to come back a second time if you don’t!). The gaming floors are clouded with smoke (it is still legal to smoke inside the casinos) and there are people from all walks of life roaming around (Vegas does not discriminate). In the background all you can hear is the melody of the poker machines (and perhaps a load hoorah from a winning patron). After a little flutter on the Sex and the City gaming machines (by far my favourite!) it was time to find the other half of our group and when we did, we couldn’t believe what presented before us! Both men, each with a handful of $1,000 chips. “Do you want to cash these in?” they say. Game on!
We retire to our respective hotel rooms to glam ourselves up for the evening. We are staying at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino which is conveniently located in the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard South aka The Vegas Strip. Each room is decorated with one-of-a-kind movie memorabilia in a stylish and modern setting. The hotel boasts that when you stay at Planet Hollywood “the celebrity lifestyle is yours for the living, and fame lies around every corner.” We are feeling every bit the celebrity with our winnings.
As the sun begins to set on the final day of the year and the bright lights of Vegas come to life, from our hotel room window we enjoy the infamous Bellagio Fountains dancing to their own silent disco. We call down to room service and order a bottle of Vodka – we think we are one of the many rock stars which have previously partied behind the closed doors of their hotel rooms.
Our friends join us in our room, we finish the bottle of spirits and begin to make our way to the nightclub. We had already missed the free drinks which were included in our entry ticket for the nightclub, but what did we care. A vodka and red bull from the foyer of our hotel for good measure, and we were out on the streets among the hoards of people starting to gather. On NYE, The Strip is closed to traffic and patrons can meander along the street. The other great thing about Vegas is that street drinking is completely legal – so it is basically one massive street party on nights like this (or any given day for that matter).
Lined along the streets are vendors selling all sorts of cocktail combinations in drinking vessels of all shapes and sizes. We opt for drinks in the shape of the Eifel Tower, and after one sip of these lethal concoctions I offload mine to a willing passerby.
A short stroll along the Boulevard and we make it to the Venetian which houses the nightclub, Tao. There is some hysteria coming from below, and peaking over the balcony we catch a glimpse of the guest star, Kim Kardashian, and her entourage. This was before her younger sisters were more famous than her.
Upon entering the nightclub we were offered some canapés and ordered our first drink … and from there everything becomes a blur. Dancing, shots, Kimmy K counting us down to the New Year, falling over, laughing, more shots and generally having the best night of our lives.
And then it was home time. What a bore I remember thinking to myself as I was dragged out of the club, it has only just turned midnight (the following day I discovered it was actually almost 3am when we departed). But as I leave the club it is then that I realised that I can no longer walk. It’s below zero degrees and I am dressed in my party dress with no coat. As my legs and feet are failing to cooperate, I am being walked like a puppet down the street – my feet on my saviour’s feet as he walks me one step at a time back to our hotel (and yes, he still married me after this!).
I am finally put to bed and doze off into my drunken slumber, until I am slowly awaken by the hotel room phone continually ringing. The phone is answered and it is one of our female travelling companions, sobbing loudly and explaining the she had lost all of her belongings and has no idea where she has been the past few hours. Like a true superhero, my saviour bustles down to the other end of the strip to New York, New York Hotel and Casino to rescue my good friend and help her find her things. It still amazes me how she managed to remember our hotel and the room number to be able to call us. Thankfully, everything was recovered and the gentleman saved the day!
It wasn’t until my next time in Vegas (and failing to see midnight on 31 December for 2 years in a running – yes, I’m a disgrace!) that I finally understood what happened to us that night. There is a profession in Vegas called Mixologists – these so called professionals work at the bars and are responsible for developing the most potent possible shots which still taste amazing. So those shots we had been consuming which we thought were vodka, were in actual fact something consisting of about 80% alcohol. I asked the local why they would do this and her response was ‘because they want everyone to have a good time.’ What’s fun about having one shot and basically blanking out – I’m not sure – but thankfully we had good friends to watch out for us and we lived to tell the tale. And just like the movie, it took a review of the photos from the evening to fill in the gaps of what actually happened, but thankfully our photos were G Rated enough that they could be shared with family and friends.