Within an hour of arriving in Vegas, we’re at the grand opening of SUSHISAMBA at The Palazzo. The party is a kaleidoscopic swirl of glitz and grandiosity – as it has to be to make a blip in this town.
We’re talking dancers in full Carnevale attire, colored mood lighting, thumping Brazilian beats, paparazzi cameras flashing and endless food trays bearing sushi, scallops on the shell, “mango tacos” and mini-donuts with chocolate dipping sauce, among other things.
Best of all, the specialty drink of the evening – the delicious “strawberry basiltini,” with muddled strawberries – is really make a splash with our entire group. This is where the cavalcade of “freeness” started…only to never really let up.
Though I failed to glimpse of the cast of “Entourage,” who hosted the party, and wasn’t even aware that one of my favorite NBA stars, Baron Davis, was there until after the fact, I was still rather pleased to interlope at such a star-studded affair. (My friend Carita, a reporter for TV Guide, got us on the list.) I also kept thinking with every free drink: “I just saved $14.”
But the bounty didn’t stop there. Soon the party migrated to the adjacent "boutique club," SUGARCANE. (A boutique club is only 4,000 square feet, I later learn. Only in Vegas.) Here, a live band was getting the crowd whipped up, there was plentiful seating and everyone had room to move on the dance floor – things I would come to really appreciate by the following night.
Amidst all of this frenetic festivity, we bumped into a group of guys from New York who were there for a bachelor party weekend. It soon became clear that the groom-to-be had a thing for redheads (always a bad pickup line, I might add), his best man was rather keen on Tejal and that he and his pals wanted to merge with our she-group in more ways than one.
Eventually we had to politely, and then firmly, decline. This classic Vegas encounter made me reflect how – even in the most upscale places – a woman can’t come to Vegas without getting hit on. I also pondered the strange mixed message of a “no-strings-attached” town with an overwhelming number of wedding chapels. It’s as if you’re supposed to come without strings – but leave with them? Any theories on this contradiction? Comment away!
After a day spent lounging at the pool, it was hard to imagine that anything could burst my bubble. We took our time getting dolled up and headed out for our big evening – this was the night we had a limo, after all.
The first stop was dinner at Shibuya, the MGM Grand’s swanky, glass-walled Japanese restaurant, where we devoured high quality fish (near the level of some of Southern California’s best sushi restaurants I would say) and then were flummoxed to find ourselves the recipients of the four free desserts I mentioned in my last post. My favorite, rather unexpectedly, was the tofu crème brulee. Doesn’t sound all that tantalizing, I know, so you’ll have to trust me.
Next we climbed into the limo, picked up three extra girls from Ireland who were also in Vegas that weekend and headed down to Fremont Street in the heart of old Vegas. A cacophony of giddy British (two of the girls in the group live in the UK), Irish and American accents accompanied our drive.
Inside the tunnel of lights there, we gawked at the brightness and posed for photos with firefighters and Chippendales. (In my defense, I was powerless to stop it. I was with a gaggle of girls, after all.). I did get a chuckle out of the huge lifts – at least two inches – in the shoes of one height-challenged Chippendale, though. In Vegas, everything is an illusion.
From there, we headed to our final destination – Tao, one of the most popular megaclubs at the moment. Things started smoothly thanks to our “Sex in Sin City” package guest-listing. That meant no wait in line (thank goodness as it was a substantial one), and no cover. But from there, my good mood started to wear off at an alarming pace.
The main reason? People. WAY too many people. This is a club with a 4,500+ person capacity(!), and it felt like all of them were in my personal space. In my crankiness, I started to notice how bored all the dancers looked – especially the ones half-dancing in bathtubs filled with flower petals. (Again, only in Vegas.)
To escape the constant jostling, we relocated from the dance floor to a balcony, only to be told we had to move down 10 feet. Minutes later, I was told to move again – and to put my shoes back on. (I’d given my feet a quick break.) That was the final straw. Tao and me were on the outs from there, and I was thrilled to make my exit. I had found my kind of Vegas, and this was not it.
4 years ago