Monday, April 11, 2011

Dim Lights, Bright City

I've been away for a few days in an unlikely location and it is about to lead to a long post. I'm generally not one for bright lights and big crowds, so imagine my amusement at the announcement of a work commitment in Las Vegas. It wasn't a long meeting and the trip was a spouses included sort of thing... there was much time for sightseeing and such. Thing is, the mister and I are of similar temperament and were feeling trepidatious. How could we find a way to enjoy a city we had always avoided?

I had long judged Las Vegas harshly believing it to be too superficial and brash for my tastes. I like the old world, the authentic, the simple things in life. The pleasures I had assumed Las Vegas had on offer were much too obvious for me. I thought to myself that a place created solely for entertainment and amusement couldn't possibly have any depth. To go there was to confirm a great number of stereotypes about the place, but surprisingly I left the place feeling far less prickly than when I arrived.

And it's not because we had a gambling win or drank to soothe ourselves. I managed to find a little old-world beauty and a lot of quirky charm in the most unexpected of places.

We saw signs for a show called Absinthe as we wandered past Caesars Palace. The posters caught our collective eye, but the display of junkstore wares was what drew us in. In a city glistening with 'new' it was a relief to see a jumble of old chairs and bathtubs and bikes.

The dimmest lights in Vegas

Absinthe was part circus show, part vaudeville act, part burlesque and balanced beauty and bawd skillfully. The venue was a spectacular touring spiegeltent built in the 1920s. Upon doing a little research I found out Marlene Dietrich sang in this very tent in the 30s. My photo just does not capture the beauty of this tent... the mirrors, the wood, the draped velvet and fringe. Here it is in better lighting.

photo courtesy of

photo courtesy of

The tent gave such an intimacy to the performance. To sit three rows away from the tiny stage while heroic feats of athleticism took place before us was breathtaking. There was a moment during some high velocity roller skating than stopped my breath quite completely. (Who knew rollerskating could be so exciting!)

My only (very minor) critique is I wish somehow they could have worked in some background on absinthe history into the show. I know one generally goes to Vegas shows for spectacle rather than a history lesson, but I do think it would set the show up nicely. Still, highly recommended to those who already know who the green fairy is.

We had a lovely dinner across 'The Strip' from the show at Mon Ami Gabi located on the premises of the Paris Casino. We were unable to get a table and so sat at the tiny little bar and had a stellar meal while being entertained by the lovely bartenders. It was a bit transporting, really. The restaurants in the casinos seem so immense, to sit at a little 8 seat bar felt like another place and time.

Very good to find the dimmest of corners in the brightest of places.



Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home