Las Vegas: All that Glitters is Not Always Gold

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First a disclaimer: This blog has absolutely nothing to do with information security. This blog is about Las Vegas, with the only link to infosec being that it was for Black Hat and BSides Vegas that I’ve spent the last four days in Sin City…

So, Vegas.

Vegas is one of the most exciting places to land – it really is an adult’s disneyland in the middle of the dessert. On landing, I’m instantly filled with a sense of fun, recklessness and youth. The sun is always shining, the buildings are always lit up and glistening 24/7 and everywhere you look there are groups of friends smiling and laughing. The sheer size of everything in Vegas is mind-blowing. The hotels are so enormous it can take you fifteen minutes to walk from check-in to your hotel room. You look at the hotel next door, imagine you’ll be there in two minutes, and it will take twenty. Everything out here is big: The food, the bets, the buildings, the beds, the bathtubs, the pools, the prices, the wins. Go big or go home right...If you love sparkle, Vegas is for you. Watching a bride and groom proceed to the chapel whilst you’re eating breakfast is no biggie in Vegas. Everything in Vegas exists to provide entertainment. Well that, and to make the casino owners money. A lot of money. It’s so insanely indulgent – drinks are delivered to your lounger because walking to the bar is just too much effort. Everyone talks to everyone, nobody thinks twice about grinning at you as you walk past and telling you to ‘have a great day’. Nightclubs and restaurants are out of this world.

That’s all the reasons to love Vegas.

The other side of Vegas is the one that makes you ready to leave long before your trip is up. All that glitters is not always gold. Walking through any of the hotels before midday is nothing short of sad. You’ll see the people who haven’t yet gone to bed – stumbling around with glossy eyes, dry mouths, and many having indulged in more than just alcohol. You’ll also find old people pouring constant coins into the slot machines, a lack-luster, lifeless look in their eyes. None of the casinos (and every hotel is at least 50% casino, so this includes hotels) have windows or clocks. They are smoky with no natural light and a soundtrack of slot machines and people shouting in either elation (their number came in) or despair (their number did not). Vegas has no soul. Everything is an illusion and everything is fake. Where else can you see the eiffel tower, the Egyption pyramids, St Marco square and the Trevi fountains within a seven mile stretch? Everything is plastic – including a lot of body parts of Vegas’ visitors. Young women are the exception to the ‘everything in Vegas is big’ argument I made previously. I’m a British size 8-10 (the equivalent to a US 4-6) and I was, without doubt, one of the ‘biggest’ girls around the pool and in the clubs. I’m generalising, obviously, but many of the women you find in Vegas bars and clubs spend more time tossing their hair and staring at themselves in the mirrors complaining that their size zero body is “too fat” and pouting their lips. And then there are the casino waitresses, dressed in the tiniest little outfits – some way older than my mum. I’m not judging them, I’m judging the uniform policy that the casinos enforce.

Having said all that…

This was my sixth time in Vegas. I’ve been five times for work (one with an extended personal holiday onto the end) and once with a group of friends, and I haven’t quite had my fill of Vegas. If you accept all of its faults and have no expectations of culture or soul - and take Sin City at face value - Vegas is a treat. I’m young, I love nothing more than to party. I’m certainly no stranger to a big night out on the dancefloor indulging in vodka redbull, and I love the finer things in life – of which Vegas has many. But that only scratches one itch. In Vegas, I miss greenery and water and the peace and quiet which envelopes (almost) all cities at some point each night. It’s true what they say: Vegas never sleeps, and when you’re in Vegas, you don’t either.

The excitement I feel when I land in Vegas is matched only by the relief I feel each time I leave.

See you next year, Las Vegas. Until then…

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