Why Las Vegas is a bad suit

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 11.16.10 AMEvery few years I go to Las Vegas to speak in a panel. This week I returned for DMAI’s centennial conference, which I really enjoyed. Whenever I’ve gone to Vegas I’ve tried to enjoy myself. I once even made a video feebly trying to position “SIN City” as “ScIeNce City.”

People love it. I simply don’t get it.

It’s not the heat, the neon, the hordes. Or the half-mile walk back to your room that tempts you, instead, to sit at a casino lounge for an $8.50 beer, or dump another $10 into a slot machine. It’s not the $3.47 small coffee you get after a 15-minute wait at a promenade Starbucks, the only one to serve the 4000 rooms at your hotel. It’s not that crossing the Strip means walking 500 yards — past souvenir shops, Hard Rock Cafes, yet more casinos — and up and over elevated sidewalks that breeze past more shops and casinos, and double-back 500 yards to reach your intended destination, directly across Las Vegas Blvd from where you started a half hour before. It’s not Celine Dion. Or Shania Twain. Or magicians with painted hair. It’s not the fake Paris or the fake Venice or the fake New York. It’s not that people underbrag their supposedly bad behavior when here. It’s not the flicker of prostititute trading cards handed out by Oaxacans. Or the drunk guys who tease you for not taking one. It’s not that it’s purposely built to distract your attention from Nevada’s all-timer skyline of mountains at the edge of the city. Or, in most cases, even the briefest glimpse of that constant sun.

Las Vegas has a right to be there. And, very evidently, it’s wanted.

It’s just that it’s the only place in the world that gives me culture shock. I don’t hate it, or even necessarily dislike it. I’m sure I’ll go back (I don’t boycott destinations). But every step I make there wears on me like a wool suit that’s squeezes at my armpits yet droops wildly from the groin.

Las Vegas and me? Maybe we just don’t fit.

About Robert Reid

Robert Reid is a travel writer (Lonely Planet, New York Times, ESPN), travel expert (Today Show, CNN's Headline News), travel videographer (76-Second Travel Show) and travel artist (don't ask).
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