The Culture Clash: Las Vegas

 
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BY CARIN BENGSSTON —

Most of us are familiar with the saying: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”

Well, that saying has never appealed to me. Why keep an incredible story to yourself? If you feel ashamed of a bad decision, then know this: it is the bad decisions that make good stories and good stories are meant to be told. We will never look back on our life remembering the nights we got plenty of sleep, so tell your story and exaggerate profusely.

A few weekends ago, I took a road trip to Las Vegas with a French woman, a Danish woman, an Australian man and the obligatory British man. The French woman, the Danish woman and I only know how to drive vehicles with steering wheels located on the right side, so we put the Aussie behind the wheel. All I can say is I am thankful for the ribbed part on the road that kept us in the lane all the way to Las Vegas and back.

This was actually my second time going to Vegas, but this time I was legal to gamble and increase my blood alcohol content. To me, Las Vegas seems like two completely different cities: one during the daytime and one during the night. When the sun is out, everything is gray and rather unattractive — my condition after a night out may have had something to do with my perception, however. There were Hollywood look-alikes everywhere and statue-performers that scared me half to death. When the skies darken, Las Vegas is covered in lights, filled with slot machines and everyone is dressed to impress — and some people seriously lack awareness of their body parts showing.

Revealing too much skin anywhere else in the world would have been looked down upon – but not in Vegas. Las Vegas is like a refuge, where everything morally wrong is all of a sudden free from sin. For that reason, my friends and I made the trip specifically on the weekend of our British friend’s birthday — and celebrated Las Vegas style. Because the birthday boy was in fact male, we ended up at a strip club the first night.

Strip clubs are not necessarily my cup of tea, so, while there, I found myself having a conversation with the club promoter about their lack of necessity. Due to intoxication, I cannot recall the entire conversation, but it ended with him promising me he would stop promoting strip clubs on one condition: if I came up with a solution that would earn him enough money to continue driving his fancy car and wear his fancy clothes. At this, I said goodbye.

Once we returned to our hotel, I had only one thing on my mind: food. I made my way to the hotel bar where they served breakfast, but I was caught off-guard with the realization I had to actually pay for my meal. I had not spent a penny thus far, so I decided to stay on the cheap train and refused to pay. A middle-aged man offered to pay for it—the first of his many subtle tricks used to invite me to his room. I gave him a definite “No” and left with an empty stomach.

After a weekend surrounded by glamour and trying to walk normally in brand new high-heels, I tried to wrap what was left in my head around Las Vegas.

My conclusion: a surrealistic experience which consists of both heaven and hell at the same time. As a woman, it seemed like heaven because everything was free. You are treated like a queen and life is good. Having a pair of boobs can also mean getting paid to press them up against random men’s faces. This is not so glamorous, but the men would probably agree to the contrary.

Having finally experienced Vegas for myself, I decided to modify the introducing wisdom quote to something like this: “What happens in Vegas only happens in Vegas.”

 

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