Tuesday, July 31, 2012

- Viva Las VEGAS!

Whenever I hear this phrase now it really reminds me of the all of the shows that I saw in Vegas.  All were incredible productions in their own way but, perhaps what kept blowing my mind the most is how they took place in theaters, which were by no means small or meager, located inside hotels.  I mean Vegas hotels really are like no other hotels anywhere else on Earth.

SHOWS

1. Cirque du Soleil "O" @ The Bellagio: I thought for sure that if I was going to see a Cirque show in Vegas I was going to see Love.  But then shortly before my trip  I actually met someone that had lived in Vegas for the past two years and seen all of the Cirque shows.  Since I was only going to hit up one (or so I thought) I wanted her opinion on which ones gave the most bang for their buck.  She recommended "O" as the best, with Mystere as a second.  But, she also talked about Ka quite a bit.  After looking into all of them, I decided that "O" topped my list because I loved the idea of the stage being water.

I was not disappointed at all.  We went on Saturday night, less than 24 hours after I arrived, and afterwards I knew that the entire trip to Vegas was worth it because I got to see what I saw in "O".

It was just everything.  Every act would end and I would think "That was totally the best one" but then there was something else even more amazing to behold.  I was so glued to the stage that it took nearly 4 or 5 acts in for me to realiz that the music was being performed live.  Then I would get lost searching for a wire that I though had to be there, only to realize that the stages were moving under water to create different waterscapes for the aerial stunts.  I mean...Mind. Blown.
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This picture was taken in a "No Pictures Allowed" Zone.  Oops.

I had planned to see only one show in Vegas, but when I booked the tickets they were careful to share that I got 25% off any additional Cirque shows I booked.  I still had that burning feeling that I couldn't not see Love, and I knew that Liz would be the perfect companion for such a show.  So I texted her to let her know I could get a deal and she was on board.  So what I'm saying is...I'm only halfway done telling you about how insane Cirque shows are.

2. Chippendales @ The Rio: Vegas is home to 2 male revue shows, Chippendales and Thunder from Down Under.  Since my personal Gold Medal would be to land an Australian husband, I was more interested in seeing Thunder...but then Kelsey informed me that Joey Lawrence would be hosting at Chippendales while we were in town.  Since she was acoompanying me to Cirque, I felt the least I could do was go with her to check that out...and boy did we do a lot of checking things out.
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"Woah."
For your reference.

So...Chippendales was just more scandalous than I thought it could be.  My cheeks hurt from laughing for so long at the ridiculousness of nipple rings and g strings hitting the floor.  But also, I had so many unanswered questions at the end of the show.  Like "What led him to this career?  And what is next for the Chippendale's guy after his time on the stage is over?  And does anyone NOT in Chippendale's pierce their nipples anymore?  And why do I find the cowboy routine surprisingly hot?  And what is their annual budget for thin, pre-notched wife beaters?"  

Alas, we may never know.

3. Cirque du Soleil "Love" @ The Mirage: I've listened to and liked the Beatles for almost as long as I can remember.  However, it wasn't until highschool that I fell completely and utterly in all you need is Love with them.  I remember staying up late to watch A Hard Day's Night and Yellow Submarine and in those moments realizing the full magnitude of what exactly the Fab Four created.  I can't name a Beatles song I don't like.  I'd have a hard time naming one that I haven't cried to at some moment in the past.  Or one that I don't have a fantastic memory associated with.  If ever in all my life through, I might have temporarily forgotten that they were the greatest band ever, Across the Universe reminded me.  
It's physically impossible not to smile when this song plays.

Our seats for Love were amazing.  Due to the 25% discount, and the fact that we went on a Monday night, our money really got us some great seats.  We were close enough to be involved in stunts in the show and have performers near us, but not so close that we couldn't take in all of the action.  And aside from the thrill of our proximity, there was the actual show itself.  

It took my breath away.  I was so emotionally connected I was all I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together the entire time.  I would recognize the beginning notes to a new song and it would start to weave a story of my life connecting moments that got interwoven with what was happening in front of me, and beside me with Liz.  Something was unforgettable.  An Octopus's Garden was more than comedy.  Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was magical.  Tears flowed down my cheeks during Hey Jude.  THAT show made Vegas worth it.  It was so much to me that I don't think I could see it again because the first time should be the only time.  Y'all - I could barely bring myself to throw away paper confetti that fell on me during the show.  Paper confetti.
This will kind of help you understand, but not really
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Seen going in and coming out of the theater
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The Revolution Lounge @ Mirage
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Liz and I still high off the show

4. Divas: If you're going to see a drag show, you might as well see the Drag Show.  Divas with Frank Marino, who is the longest running headliner in Vegas, is filled with glitz, breastplates, and to be Frank about it, balls.  I knew that Meggles wouldn't pass up the opportunity to check out some Queens, and it reminded of us a simpler time when we watched female impersonators named Porkchop at Legends.  But on this night, we got to "see" some much bigger names.
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Madonna
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Gaga
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Liza
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Katy Perry
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And of course...Cher

If you looked at her and didn't sing "If I could turn back time" then it's like I don't even know you anymore.

There were many others, and while I had a great time, I probably would have had a better time if my stomach wasn't starting to act a fool...

My last list focuses on VEGAS! attractions - so expect excerpts from the Strip, Fremont Street, and the Spring Valley ER!

Monday, July 30, 2012

- VEGAS! In Da Club

Listen, I tell you I went to Vegas and you pretty much know what went down.  It's Vegas.  Whatever I did, you can be sure I did too much of it.  Except gamble.  I still haven't even put so much as a quarter in a slot machine.

The main focus of this trip was the annual IFT Annual Meeting and Food Expo which was taking place from June 25-28.  So yes, I'm writing about this a month after it happened.  You guys, what happened to July?  For good measure, Kelsey and I decided to go the Friday before so that we could have a whole weekend to party without obligation.  In preparation, I made a ton of lists about stuff I wanted to see and do the week that I would be in town, and I will share those with you now, along with my colorful commentary and pictures whose quality dramatically improves as alcohol intake decreases.

CLUBS
This is the first thing I'm going to talk about because within an hour and a half of my 11:30 PM landing time I was in da club.

1. Chateau @ Paris: A friend of a friend of a friend was with a bachelor party there so that's where the girls ended up before I arrived.  It was on my list of places to go, so despite being tired and bloated from flying, I rallied and showed up.  The bachelor party meant that I didn't have to pay a cover, and the drinks were mixed so well it only took two, which fit right into my Vegas spending plan.  Chateau is all clubby inside with ridiculously loud music and scandalous dancing, but there's also a pretty awesome rooftop section that overlooks the strip complete with a pretty up close and personal view of the Eiffel Tower replica.
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Evidence: The Eiffel Tower was close to me.

One of the first things I learned on this trip was that rooftops in Vegas = AWESOME.  Being that it's a desert, it cools down remarkably at night from about 105 to something more manageable like 85.  Which feels awesome without humidity to every part of me except probably my skin.  Even though I started late, I caught up pretty quickly and had a great night out at Chateau.  I showed up again briefly a little later in the trip, but I was already so far gone at that point that I decided a late night eating session was more appropriate.

2. Pure @ Caesar's Palace: So unfortunately I had to pay a cover here, and after doing so I was all "Alright someone needs to buy me some drinks!".  And that's when these two guys magically swept in and were all "Hey do you girls wanna come up and drink with us?  We have table service."  And listen, I don't care that you're from Boston with a raging yankee accent because "table service" are the two most magical words in a place like Vegas.  Several vodka/fruity drinks later we were having a great time.  As an added bonus the VIP section for Pure is on the ROOFTOP.  Perfection.  This ended up being a really fun night that I spottily remember, but I did manage to watch the sun rise.
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Evidence: Of drunk yankee, and fruity vodka drink.  
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Evidence: Of sunrise.

3. Voodoo Lounge @ The Rio: We may or may not have stopped by here after our trip to Chippendale's.  More on that later.  The Rio is kind of far from the strip so I really just wanted to check out the view...yep, that's right, another rooftop.  This one just happens to be 51 stories up...it is on THE rooftop of the hotel.  It was early and kind of a weird, lame crowd...plus it happens to be pretty windy that far up.  We had a drink, snapped a pic for evidence, and headed on to bigger and supposedly better places.
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Evidence: I was up there.

4. Club XS @ Encore: Here is where everything fell apart.  Club XS was having a pool party and the cover was ridiculous.  Probably because the scene was ridiculous.  I have never in my life experienced anything like that.  And after spending $41 at the bar on two drinks and two waters I was distracted by some hot european-esque looking dude who slicked his hair back like David Beckham has been doing recently and this caused me to insecurely place my debit card and ID in my clutch.  I say insecurely because shortly after doing so, they fell out, and were lost in that mess of a scene.  I didn't realize this until an hour or so later when I was paying the cab driver and could only find my corporate card.  I called and cancelled my debit card immediately but couldn't get anyone on the phone at da club.  

The next morning I woke up sick with anxiety at 7:30 AM and started googling how to fly without your ID, which is totally possible, so I turned my attention to the more pressing matter of spending 4 days in Vegas without alcohol.  On top of that - EVERYWHERE in Vegas ID's you when you swipe a credit card.  So aside from the obvious, I was concerned about being able to pay for anything anywhere.  When I finally managed to get Lost and Found on the phone at 9 AM they were apparently sorting through hundreds and hundreds of "found" items from the pool party.  They took my name and number and said they would call me if they found anything.  By lunchtime I had given up, and made peace with my fate.  Sort of.  Which is why I nearly cried from relief when they called at 1:30 saying they had both my ID and debit card.  Later that day when Kelsey and I were waiting for someone to run them out to me, standing by the conceirge at Encore drunk with relief, I declared that Vegas will host my "Dirty 30" birthday party in 2013.  Everyone who wants to come is invited.  It will take place Feb 7-10 to coincide with the Seven's World Series rugby tournament, and it will be more than you can imagine.   

There is no evidence of how disastrous this was.

5. Tao Beach @ The Venetian: Admittedly this is a lame add - because I went there for a customer party - at night.  So it wasn't the day club experience (or even the night club experience that it can be), but I can imagine what that would be like and I wouldn't mind stopping back by.  
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Evidence: View from Tao

6. Marquee @ Cosmopolitan: This was one of the places at the top of my list to see, because it's only like the hottest club in Vegas and if you're going to do the club scene there, you best do it right.  Anyways, you can imagine how excited I was to learn that a vendor at IFT was hosting a party there...which translates to no cover and free drinks.  That particular vendor always brings in a mixologist so they had all these fancy drinks and they were particularly effective.  The outside area was pretty swank with rows of individual cabanas with couches and air conditioning and (wait for it) hot tubs.  Inside was also crazy and that place by far had the nicest bathroom I went to in a club during my time in Vegas.  
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Evidence: Of Meggles.  And how strong the drinks were.

7. Places on the list I didn't go to: The Bank @ The Bellagio and 1OAK @ The Mirage.  Y'all, I got tired because a week in Vegas is really 3 days too long, so those were saved for the "Dirty 30".

Stay tuned for the next list: Shows - which fall into two distinct categories - classy, or just downright dirty.  Oh, and if you're lucky the pictures get better.

Monday, July 9, 2012

- 2.5 Weeks

The past 2.5 weeks have been a blur of casinos, dolphins, fountains, Cirque du soleils, buffets, old friends, scientific symposia, drag shows, volcanoes, scallops, the Spring Valley Hospital, tweets, instagrams, giggles with G man, BEST friends, wine, PBR, Sweetwater Blue, THE beach, HOME, brotards, SPF 85, rugby, and tears.

I can't seem to even start the process of saying goodbye to my family without also starting the process of crying.  I'm sitting in the Greensboro airport about to board a plane and remembering how many loved ones I said hello and goodbye to on this trip is overwhelming.  Sometimes in Minneapolis when I'm loving my apartment and my job and my friends and my life there with Emma it's easy to forget how much of my heart is here.  Right now it feels like I'm leaving it completely behind.

Until I wrap my head around that and get it back in Minneapolis you should do what I do and let the sweet sounds of the Lumineers rock your soul.