Sin City, minus the sin
“Are you going to write about your trip to Las Vegas?”
That's what a tall flight attendant asked me as I waited for an airplane restroom to open up. I was lurking around the back of the plane because I heard after the crew distributes the first round of beverages to passengers, it’s open bar in the back.
I was wrong about the open bar, but it was a nice excuse to stretch my legs and engage in an unexpected conversation. I'm not going to lie, it was also nice to find out that yes, people I have never met before actually recognize me and (even better) read the things I write in this blog.
“I’m actually not too sure,” I answered. It was a short trip – only two nights – and it was for work. I had to attend a big meeting with Remy Cointreau, and while that’s still pretty damn exciting (COGNAC!), I was a bit overwhelmed from visiting the city for the first time.
I wasn’t sure where to start.
Being there for work was pretty amazing. The liquor business and Las Vegas are like peanut butter and jelly or vodka and soda; they go together beautifully. Working in the liquor business gives me the opportunity to do things I normally can't in the popular adult playground.
I don’t make enough money to drop a couple thousand on any one night in a club and I don’t ever pretend to be that kind of baller. Sure, dropping a couple hundred at SKYLiNE when I was in the Navy wasn’t a big thing, but as I grow older it just gets more and more trivial to spend so much money on a $30 bottle of alcohol that is gone in an hour, consumed by people who may or may not even be your friends.
Of course I get it. It's the whole experience factor, and in a town like Vegas it's pretty much the only way to experience a nightclub. You need a place to chill, otherwise you're stuck on a packed dance floor. I wondered to myself more than once if the crowd of people standing on the huge floor in front of the DJ were paid to be there, filler promotions staff hired by the club. For some reason it just made no sense to me that people could enjoy being packed in a place with no option but to dance.
It's only now as I write this that I realize how old and cynical I've become. I see people doing that every weekend at M and Addiction and Vice and they seem to be perfectly happy. That's the whole point of clubbing. People are there to rage, to blow off steam. It's not my thing, but I can see it's definitely something.
Still, I liked my bird perch. For once in my life I felt like fellow Pulse blogger Derin Derego.
On the plane ride home I was thrilled to see Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” among the movie selections, which I watched twice. There was a part where Jeff Goldblum’s indelible character, the executor of an estate, pats a huge pile of papers and says everything is there except one thing. There was one thing that he knew was missing but he didn’t know what it was. He just knew it wasn’t there.
I chuckled out loud at this because that’s exactly how I felt in Las Vegas. As I looked around the room in multi-million dollar nightclubs with state-of-the-art lighting, projected visuals and pounding progressive house, I couldn’t help but think about all the dark nooks and crannies there must be in this town. I wanted to explore beyond the expensive hotels and clubs and find the weird stuff.
I knew it was there; I just didn’t know what it was. More importantly, I didn’t have time to search it all out.
Still, it was a fantastic couple of days learning and bonding with my co-workers and the best way possible to visit the city for the first time. Liquor professionals definitely know how to wine and dine and only get more charming as the cognac and champagne kicks in. As cliché as it might sound, I feel very grateful to work in an industry with such great people.
It’s difficult to put it all into words, so I’ll just look forward to the Labor Day weekend and hopefully see a lot of you out enjoying it. Events that look good to me include Soul Time in Hawaii at Bevy and, of course, Art + Flea on Thursday; the Party After Art at eleven44 on Friday; Manifest celebrating five years with a '90s party that’s absolutely going to invoke belly laughs and great photos; and of course my Bacardi Pool Party is Monday.
It’s nice to be home.
Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for Pow! Wow! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular Bacardi Pool Party on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.