Written by Jilly Hendrix
I think my first time in Vegas was when I was 17 for a friend’s birthday, and it was the first time I had ever been to a strip club (in America). 10 years later and I’m stuck in the middle: too old to go to Vegas to party my ass off and too young to go to Vegas to need to escape adulthood. After all, I am somewhere in the middle and doing just fine.
So what brought me to Vegas?
Britney Spears is the last thing I hold on to from my youth. I was still a girl, not yet a woman when I purchased my first Britney CD. She represents a time in my life where the only serious decision I had to make was thinking about which college to apply to. I remember taking a limo from Orange County to LA to see Britney perform at The Staples Center and thinking, “WOW. This concert is something.”
10 p.m. and I arrive at Planet Hollywood in leather pants and a t-shirt. 10 years ago I would have been double fisting vodkas in a mini dress and now I’m casually sipping tequila, wondering who actually enjoys vodka sodas. I walk in and start bopping around in the massive pop bubble that is “Piece of Me.” Britney plays her usual hits and then moves on to what I like to call “Progressive Britney.” It has more of an EDM sound and mostly includes her saying the words: “It’s Britney Bitch.”
The crowd has every line to every song memorized, and they sing and dance along. Every so often I can make out whispers from the otherwise deafening mass of people: “Is she going to dance into the audience?” “Remember when Britney held the snake?” “Why is she wearing that bustier?”
Her outfits aren’t extravagant, her dance moves aren’t over the top, and her performance isn’t noteworthy. It just is. Britney’s still beautiful, talented, and playing her beloved tracks. But the crowd holds on to the Britney Spears they once knew, wishing for the familiarity of her twenty-year-old six-pack & glitzy two-piece. They were hoping that tonight wouldn’t signify that she’s changed, hoping that tonight wouldn’t signify that they have changed.
I move on to my next location, Beacher’s Madhouse. The club is filled with life-sized Gumbies, flying human bumblebees, and a woman whose multiple breast implants allow her to crush beer cans and glassware with one breast-hit. The cast consists of people you can’t relate to, so you watch with excitement — not sure if you should laugh along with the joke or accept that you’re an asshole for even showing up to a place like this. It’s as if each character in the show walked into the wrong party but was having too much fun so they decided to stay. It’s something to awe at if you’re in the mood to be awed.
See, that’s the problem with going to Vegas when you’re in the middle and doing just fine. You’re not looking to be shocked. You’re not looking to escape. But you automatically ask yourself, “Why is this night different from any other night?” Because you’re in a location where lust thrives. Where saying no isn’t an option. I was stuck somewhere between the Vegas of my youth and the Vegas of today. Wanting to fade into some of the crazy, but still perfectly content with my present life. Wanting to stay out all night and party but knowing the consequences. Searching for something real but accepting the idea that nothing would come to fruition.
Vegas didn’t change but my perspective did. Something I once found exciting and dangerous became entirely too generic the second, third time around. The realization that no one experience will ever be like the last (accompanied by maturity, age, and a desire for more) left me self-aware.
I didn’t become too old for Vegas but too mindful of its activities.
And just like Britney, Vegas became a part of my past.