I Hate Vegas

13 January 2024

Jason got us tickets to see The Chainsmokers at XS at the Wynn. It was my second time going to The Strip as an adult and I wasn’t too keen on it. The first time, I went to watch Mitsuru play roulette while he was charging his car. He promptly lost $50 on red which was just enough time for his to car to finish charging. That was my first exposure to casino gambling, it will probably be my last. At least this time, we were going clubbing, which is something I have done before and have had fun doing.

We walked up to the bouncer at the front of the line. Jason was before me and showed his ID. The man stared at him for a long time, his glare bouncing between the card and his subject.

”Smile for me” he said. He was fucking with us at this point. No one needs that long to verify an ID. And he finally waved Jason in. I was next and he asked me a few questions, but as I walked into the foyer, we were directed back out and around to the casino floor. We walked in circles, clearly going against the flow of the posted signs, putting all our trust in unclear directions given by a man who scrutinized us for our childish appearances.

”Do we look like kids?” I asked Jason. Asian people tend to look younger. I’ve often wondered about the thoughts of bartenders and bouncers and waiters and cashiers when I get carded. It’s slowly wormed into my subconscious and made me wonder if people think I look young, and more importantly, if they treated me differently because of that.

We found our way in, through the glowing maze of cigarette haze and slot machines just to wait again in another line by the pool, just to get into the actual club. I was in disbelief. When did I ever buy a ticket to something, just to not be let in? Only in Vegas. I hate Vegas.

We were moving, but slowly. The man beside me had thin long strands of hair that parted on the left side of his forehead. He struck a cigarette and I made out the Seven Stars package as he slipped it back into his pocket.

”Are those Seven Stars?"

"Uh Yeah"

"Are you from Japan?"

"Yeah I am”

He told me his name is Kohei. He was in Vegas for CES, sent there by Honda. We chatted for a bit, I tried using my bits of Duolingo Japanese, just to practice; his English was far better. I bummed a cigarette and we talked about EDM and DJs. Many years ago, he was DJ Swordfish. He doesn’t DJ anymore but he keeps the vibe alive and goes to see his favorite DJs whenever he can.

The line wasn’t moving and we were waiting in the freezing cold. I could feel the cold seeping through my thin white dress shirt. Moments of comfort came when we moved past the heat lamps. Looking back, the line stretched past the heat lamps and I could see girls in thin dresses huddling together in the freezing cold.

Jason was getting impatient. He checked the front of the line and came back to report. “There’s a big group of people at the front. A lot of people are slipping past.” He left and came back again, “I think we should try going up”. So we did, the three of us, Jason, Kohei, and I. We walked right up to a huge cork of people plugging the line. As We walked up and cut the queue, I saw even more people doing the same even farther ahead of us. It was clear no one was getting in anytime soon, the saving grace being that it was warmer in the throng of club goers.

”What if we just jump the fence?” I asked. I was cold and getting desperate. The idea danced in my mind.

”Dude I’m down”, Jason said as he hopped up to sit on the railing.

”Nah Nah Nah man…”, I pulled him back down.

Kohei turned around to watch what we were doing but in that moment, I knew we would leave him behind.

We watched the bouncers for awhile. There was one positioned at the front of the line, letting people through. He was constantly preoccupied with having to field questions from cold party goers. Another man was standing directly in our path in, but his back was turned to us. We could slip by him, pretending to have been at one of the outdoor tables. Another bouncer was patrolling back and forth, but he came and went and the next time he went, we both got up on the railing.

I looked at Jason and he looked at me.

”Ok go go”

My heart was racing as we slipped over the railing, across the small dirt plot and into a table. Jason pushed on ahead, practically running past a bouncer. I was close on his heels as we walked into the room. I was waiting for a hand to come down on my shoulder and pull me back out the door but it never came. We walked past another bouncer and he didn’t even turn to look at us.

”Oh my god, I can’t believe we did that."

"That was like climbing a high ball dude.”

I grabbed his shoulder in disbelief. We were in. We wandered around, past a table of girls with flashing drinks, stopping quickly at the bathroom. In typical Vegas fashion, the sink was loaded with cigarettes, cologne, and candy, all of which I avoided. If Vietnam taught me anything, it’s that nothing is free and you should always be expected to pay a price for taking something from a stranger.

”We gotta get to the floor” I shouted in Jason’s ear. I pushed through the crowd in front of me, making my way towards the floor entrance, turning periodically to grab Jason through the crowd and pull him closer.

Bouncers blocked our way down. We pressed against the “line” of people waiting to get on the floor. A group of girls on a birthday party night tried to push past us but I wouldn’t let them through. I paid to be here. They probably didn’t. Girls can get in to any club for free. In fact, guys can get in a club for free too, that is, if they bring enough girls. Vegas clubs treat girls as a commodity. Women are not the target audience, they are the marketing material for the thirsty horny men to flaunt their wealth at. The only benefactor of this gaudy parade being the proprietor of the establishment. I wasn’t here for any of that, I just wanted to get to the damn floor to dance my heart out with The Chainsmokers. And we had already gotten this far, I was so close.

”Are you trying to get down there?” a bouncer tapped me on the shoulder.

”Uh, yeah man."

"How many people you got?"


"Hundred bucks, I get you down there right now."

"Sorry man, I don’t have any cash.”

I was tempted. If I had the cash in my pocket I might just be a hundred dollars poorer writing this now. But we got down to the stage soon enough. I hate Vegas. Money is everything in Vegas. It buys you women and respect and privilege to jump the queue and friends and free hotel rooms until you gamble it all away and get dumped on the curb, broke and alone.

Despite it all, I had fun that night. I jumped and bounced to the beat, belted out the lyrics to the 2000’s era throwback songs I grew up listening to on the radio. I screamed at the top of my lungs “Keep the vibe alive” in a vain attempt to awaken the garden of statues around me. And through it all I had Jason to crash against, to hold and sway together with. We head banged and jumped to the rhythm in that garden of statues. And occasionally we’d find another wanderer in the garden and together we’d jump again.