Last Vegas

The neon lights dim a bit once you realize you’ve outgrown more than their novelty


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.


Get more Pop Culture ?
  • Elodie

    This was very bad wannabe Carrie Bradshaw. But worse.

  • I remember passing through Vegas some years ago en route to a family reunion in the Grand Tetons. My family, seeing that we had all never been before, decided to stay one night and one night only. One night was more than enough — it is a disgusting, cheesy place filled with pathetic people, who I assume wouldn’t be so pathetic if they hadn’t been enticed by the evil force that is Vegas.

    Its flashiness, its waste, its blatant ignorance toward its consumption of things like water and electricity. It’s hard to walk past those fountains putting on a show, when people around the world are dying of dehydration or toxic water supplies. It’s hard browsing those buffets knowing so much of that food is offered to a captive audience that doesn’t really need it. So much thrown out, it makes me scream.

    I just remember being so happy to arrive in the Grand Tetons. No fake eiffel tower has any leg up when it comes to the natural beauty of our country. Vegas trains us to think we’re the center of the fucking cosmos, and we’re not. That’s that.

  • Nothing will ever be the same as it once was. This is why people get so nostalgic for the past. Personally, I love Las Vegas, but I go there for one reason only…to see Celine perform. The gambling and everything else about it doesn’t interest me.

  • Amelia Diamond

    i hate vegas but i think it’s because i went after i was too old to care. i think? my favorite part was the food.

    • Amelia Diamond

      AND ACTUALLY i saw cirque du soleil (the beatles one) and that blew my mind. other than that. NO VEGAS.

      • HAHAHA beatles and food were my favorite parts of vegas too. i still have the napkin from bobby flay’s restaurant in my memory drawer.

    • How fun would it be to be “The Woman Who Took Down Vegas.”

      Like, singlehandedly shut the entire institution down. There would be so much hate mail, but every death threat would be so worth it. I’d just walk my future pet goat, chomping on an heirloom tomato, middle fingers up.

  • I still love vodka sodas, but I’m only 26. Maybe next year I’ll hate them. I’ve been to vegas twice, once in 8th grade (wild family vaca?) and once when I turned 21 (came home with mono). I’m not sure I can picture myself going back anytime soon, or I guess I don’t really have the desire to do so. When I went at age 21 someone on the street told me the club Pure was ladies drink free (lie) so I went with NO CASH and ordered 2 red bull vodkas and had to give them back because I didn’t bring money (idiot). I ended up chain smoking cigarettes all night to try to get a buzz on. If someone asks why I don’t have the desire for Vegas anymore, I’m going to just print this out and show them, so thanks! P.S- Jilly, peeps say we look alike. There’s certain pictures I think we could be sistahz

    • wait…..I totally see the resemblance now. Crazyyy

  • April

    Made me think twice about my Vegas experiences…. I could relate. I enjoyed reading this

  • Nat Way

    No joke, while I was reading the comments, my friend texted me that she wants to go to Vegas for her 25th birthday. And tbh, my initial reaction was not one of enthusiasm… Love her, loathe the Vegas.

  • Charlotte Fassler

    Growing up a few hours away I went twice before the age of 21 and found it depressing and bizarre. Then for my friend’s 21st she did the the most extreme birthday extravaganza and after that I feel I came, I saw, I conquered and have no urge to return.

    I do however really like playing craps ….

  • So true. It’s like outgrowing a theme park–ditch the rides and watch the shows. I’m glad there’s a consensus on this.

  • Britney Fan


  • Tracy

    It makes me think twice about the whole Vegas experience.

  • Jmk

    This article was painfully boring and uninspiring. Maybe it’s because I love Vegas.

  • Angela

    As someone who was born and raised in Vegas, I say DERP DERP to this article and any other Vegas naysayers. As locals, we are terribly confused by tourists who seem to think that “Vegas” is the Strip, and the Strip only. Have you ever visited another city and judged it on one street alone? This is like saying you hate NYC because you outgrew Times Square.

    My hometown is full of amazing restaurants and bars, quirky culture, sporting events and concerts, nature (Red Rock, Mt. Charleston, tribal lands), and a trillion other things to do OFF of Las Vegas Boulevard. Perhaps instead of going to the most overrated show and tourist-trap club, you should have looked a bit deeper for the real Vegas. Dont let the door hit you…

  • ajs

    well shit buckets. just bought tickets to Tuesday’s show after WWD magic.

  • 17isTooYoungForVegas

    Whose parents let them go to vegas for a birthday party at the age of 17? What did you even do seeing that you were barely old enough to drive???

  • grace
    • grace

      I had a very different experience. But I’m only 24. And debatably delusional?

  • Alexandra Puffer

    You made that Britney show so poetic. Amazing.

    Warm regards,


  • I went to Vegas for the first time this summer, as a 23 year old. Totally get this post!

  • Aubrey Green

    I HATE Vegas. However, if you do go with the right people, it can be amusing.

  • Hannah Elizabeth Cooper

    Not a great piece to read before heading there for this weekend! Although I guess I asked for it searching Vegas in the search bar for outfit inspiration. The way I see it is that Vegas is like one big joke. It’s your choice whether you are in on it or not, do you want to feel like a wasted shell of a human after your trip? I never do so I play in a way that lets me retain dignity. Which is a rarity!!