Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada.
I zigzag my way through the airport crowd, in between the hundreds of walks of life who came from all over the country and probably even the world to be here. Some traveling for business, others for pleasure—maybe for a little of both. A wild getaway of finer living with a touch of risky behavior and revealing outfits. It is good to be back—and to be of legal drinking and gambling age.
I reach the exit doors and haul my over-packed bags to my designated Lyft driver's car. The quick ride offered a tease of the strip, which flared my excitement. Destination: Wynn Las Vegas.
The high-pitched rings and dings of the machines pull me into the casino. A faint smell of alcohol and unwelcome cigarette smoke swirls in the breathing air around me. A picturesque merry-go-round is placed among plants and flowers.
Other than some quality pool time, my trek to this side of Earth is a concert at a popular Vegas nightclub. Music performed by a couple of average-looking guys that quite a few millennials are fond of, including myself—The Chainsmokers.
I consider myself a professional concert attendee. I choose pricey tickets for a better seat and a few minutes of face time with the artists. I own the merchandise that I can guarantee I will not wear again. I am willing to stand in a line for hours just to make my experience in front of the stage more enjoyable.
I have been to a countless number of shows at distinctive venues in unique cities. General admission. Standing room only. Arenas. I go to soundcheck. I wait for tour buses, hoping to catch a glimpse of someone special. I went to a date in Atlantic City, making it my second concert of that particular tour. To Detroit and back in one night. I stood in the pouring rain on one of the hottest days of the year in Cleveland. I clapped when I was told during the Good Morning America summer concert series in New York City. I took a picture in front of a Christmas tree with Nick Jonas in Charlotte. This was my first Las Vegas show and to say the least, it was different from all of the rest.
"Concert" is not the right word choice to describe live music at a Las Vegas nightclub. Do not get me wrong, The Chainsmokers are the best DJ I have heard. Aside from locations in Europe, the coolest club I have visited. The experience is much less about the music and more about the party atmosphere.
The planner in me suggested to go downstairs (this event was conveniently located in the hotel where I was staying) between 9:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. There is going to be a long line, right? Yes, there is a line, followed by strict security. My I.D. is almost bent to a breaking point—apparently, it looks fake. I am going on 24 years old.
Searched and stamped, the night begins a little past 10:00 p.m. I hold up my gold iPhone, capturing the calmness of the outdoor pool before the scene turns rowdy. As I take in the oddly serene view, I spot one of the bars. I expected for drinks in Vegas to put a dent in my bank account, but I figured it is vacation. This is an opportunity to splurge a little, even though I do not work a salary job.
After the pool starts to fill up with bodies and groups start forming, I take notice of people holding souvenir cups. They are much bigger than the two, tiny cups of vodka and tonic I just downed for 20 bucks each. This is how they get you, I thought. Doors open at 10:00 p.m., but who knows when the show actually starts.
I ask the bartender about the larger volume cups and he informs me that they simply contain more alcohol. $55 for a regular, old liquor drink, nothing fancy. Or $65 to include Red Bull in a regular liquor drink. I am pretty sure I almost laughed in response to this remark.
I head back to my previously claimed spot near the edge of the pool, no drink in hand, and find that The Chainsmokers are not going to start their set until at least 1:00 a.m. (aka 4:00 a.m. North Carolina time). 4:00 a.m.—also the time I woke up to get ready to leave for the airport the previous morning.
There is no way I am going to last if I am at all close to sober. Time to splurge. "What happens in Vegas..." For a split second, I have a "who cares" attitude and I purchase the now infamous vodka tonic with a splash of grenadine. I wish I could say that I won a jackpot to make up for it.
I proudly take a sip and out of nowhere, I feel nauseous. I am most likely hungry and dehydrated. The jet lag is hitting me like a slap in the face. Hard liquor fuels guests throughout the scorching Nevada days and keeps them running into the night. But the last thing I want right now is alcohol.
Adjusting to a time difference is no joke, even if it is just a few hours. My body attempts to fight off the right coast time zone, but lose the battle more than once. I am embarrassed to say that I fell asleep before 10:00 p.m. in full makeup, completely ready for a night out on the town, on the second night out of three.
But not nearly as embarrassed as I am for buying a not-even-close-to-top-shelf-drink for $55, taking one sip, and dumping it down the sink.