The Big Damn Vegas Recap Post

Pictures that accompany this post can be found in the Gallery of the Org* at this link. If you’re going to read this post in entirety, I suggest you read it before you look at the pictures, lest you get spoiled about certain happenings.

Some backstory:

On the Monday before we left for Vegas, we went to the American Bridge & Social Club to do a practice game (and get me some much needed black points). While there, we ran into a one-time (literally) bridge partner of mine. She’s a dear and sweet lady, but she and I were not well-matched in skill level (and I wasn’t good enough then, probably still am not, to know how to compensate for a partner with minimal bridge knowledge) , and so the partnership wasn’t a fit. But, we left on good terms, and she still enjoys the game. The AB&SC runs a lesson before each game and has a very informal and friendly club with lots of beginner-to-novice players, so I was really glad that she was going there. I was telling her that we were there to get some practice before the NABC, and she mentioned that her son works as a DJ at the Playboy Club. She said he could get us in if we wanted to go on a night he was working.

Well, my dear husband & I had not heard of the Playboy Club in Vegas. We figured it must be a new addition. After all, it had been a full year since my DH had been to Vegas, and almost two since my last trip. But, we are always up for scantily clad babes, so we let her know that we’d love to go and to let us know when and how.

The next day, I had a message on my phone from her giving her son’s DJ name (DJ OB1…so cute!) and telling us that he only was working on Tuesday and Friday, and that our names would be on the list to get in as comped guests of his. So, we do some research on this club to find out where it is. Turns out that this (link is work-safe) is the club she was referencing, and it is attached to Moon, a very hot nightclub…and in case you didn’t go to the links, both clubs are at the top of the new tower at Palms. Well, this works out just about perfect as we’d wanted to go dancing and partying the night we got in. This was also far more of a boon than we were expecting, as the cover for a Friday night to this place is $40+ per person.

Friday, 18 July:

We were a little delayed getting into Vegas, no more than expected for a flight out of ORD. We’d packed with the knowledge that we were going out as soon as we got checked in, so our club clothes were right on top. We called B*, my sometimes bridge partner and ofttimes dancing partner, to let him know we were in town. The plan was that he’d meet up and go out with us, as this was one of only two nights that we’d be in town that he wouldn’t have to be up and playing a National event the next day. (B* is easily one of the best young (meaning under 25) bridge players in our area and possibly one of the best in the nation…the ranking is hard to do with any certainty.)

On our way out of the airport, we realized that one of our suitcases was broken. A wheel on my large rolling bag had been snapped off. Over the next 24 hours, I made four phone calls to try to make arrangements to have it inspected and fixed by United, but the net result was that they don’t cover “extruding parts” like wheels or handles. So, neither here nor there, but it made lugging it around a pain in the ass as it was off balance, and it’s a suitcase that when fully packed holds just under 50 pounds. When we finally got all set in our hotel room at the good ol’ Las Vegas Hilton (cue wedding nostalgia), we had dinner at the Mexican place at the hotel. My DH had managed to arrange a full room and board comp for us for the weekend at the LVH. (Sweet!) B* was napping while we ate so he’d be ready to go.

At around 10pm, we got over to the Palms. The guy at the door didn’t have our names down. But, I stepped in and I name dropped the DJ’s mom’s real name, mentioned that we were her friends that he’d said he’d get in, etc…and that seemed to do it. (We later talked to the DJ who had gotten us in to thank him, and he said it was just a mix-up in that he thought we were coming on Tuesday, not Friday.)

I have to say that the club was pretty darn sweet. The Playboy Club is one of the few in Vegas that has active gambling in a club/lounge environment. You can play VP, slots, or table games while listening to the throbbing dance beat. This also means that you can sit down at a VP machine, hit the button periodically, and get free drinks while doing so. šŸ™‚ After we explored the clubs and the balconies (taking lots of pics), we sat at a bank of VP machines and got some drinks. It was still pretty early, and the music was good, but there wasn’t much dancing. I should add, too, that the Playboy Club only has a tiny dance floor surrounded by some VIP reserved seating areas. The Moon Club one level up has the big dance floor.

Once we were nicely lubricated, we went up to Moon and danced. There was more drinking and a brief bout of pinball, but we mainly just danced. Moon’s big feature is that they have a roof that opens up so that you’re dancing under the moon and stars. It was pretty, but the dance floor was so crowded that it felt like a mosh pit. We did most of our dancing on the sidelines, outside of the actual dance area. I think we got back to the hotel around 3? It’s hard to say. But, considering that 3am Vegas time was 5am our time, we did a pretty good job of dancing the night away.

Saturday, 19 July – Tuesday, 22 July:

Our plan was to pick up a pair for the afternoon knockouts, and that was exactly what we did. We ended up picking up a terrific pair of people who were originally from LA but had retired to Mexico. They told us that a mass of bridge-playing people had retired to the same community down in Mexico, as a result of finding it during a bridge cruise. It sounded really cool. It was also fun to joke during the weekend about our “Mexicans that we picked up.” šŸ˜‰ It was a man and woman who were friends, although we later played with the man and his wife during a morning knockout session as well. (Not entirely physically, the man and his wife reminded me of Zoe and Wash from Firefly, or how they would be if they were retired and played bridge.)

Our knockout session with them went really well, although we lost in the finals, and they asked if we were available to play for the rest of the week. We’d made arrangements to play with a couple that is friends of ours from locally, but I really liked the idea of playing with these really cool people that we weren’t likely to see again versus other really cool people that we see all the time. We also couldn’t get a hold of our couple-friends to make sure things were okay with them, but it all worked out in the end. We had dinner with our couple-friends and spent most of the week playing with our new Mexican friends. šŸ™‚

We did check out of LVH on the 21st. We moved over to Casino Royale (another nostalgic favorite) for the rest of the week. I went swimming at the LVH pool twice before we left, though. My DH had been playing VP periodically during our stay (to avoid the possibility of the host deciding we hadn’t earned our comp) and had finished down around $1300, so we joked about our super-expensive hotel rooms. šŸ™‚

Wednesday, 23 July:

We got knocked out in the afternoon session, and both of us were pretty wiped from having played 11 straight sessions of bridge, so we took the evening off. We went to play VP at Casino Royale (to earn our hotel stay there), and I hit a royal! So, that was 1K toward the previous loss. šŸ™‚ This also made our afternoon knockout loss our most profitable loss at bridge to date. After that, we played for a little while longer to finish out our Casino Royale coupons. We’d decided we wanted to see a show that night, so, using CR’s business center, we started researching what was available. My DH currently has a Diamond card from Harrah’s (we alternate which one of us has it), and that gets us free show tickets to most of the Harrah’s property shows, but usually not the big name ones (e.g., Penn & Teller, Celine Dion). So, he made a call to the Harrah’s to find out what was available for that night. On our prior trips, we’d seen most of the Harrah’s shows, but thanks to them buying up the strip (adding Caesar’s, Imperial Palace, and a few others to their collection), we had many more options. The host starts listing shows with availability for the night, and DH lists them off to me, “Mac King, Rita Rudner, Jubilee, Legends in Concert, Elton John…what? wait? Elton John?!?!?”

So, it turns out that, for this week only, Harrah’s is opening up Elton John’s The Red Piano show to Diamond card members as a comp ticket. We can’t reserve tickets over the phone though, so DH rushes over to Caesar’s to pick up tickets while I start changing into something a little nicer. Then, I dash over to Caesar’s to meet up with him, as it’s 6pm and the show starts at 7:30pm. But, it turns out that we can’t get tickets for that night after all…we can get tickets for Thursday night! Whee!

We go back to Casino Royale, change back into our casual clothes, and head over to the Palms to have buffet and play some 100.76% VP. šŸ™‚ The Palms was also running a promotion where you could get a free gift for your VP play that night, so we got a rolling cooler bag, too. I had managed to eat myself sick at the buffet (it was *so* good), and we were short on sleep, so we called it an early night. We watched Weeds in the hotel room until we drifted off to sleep.

Thursday, 24 July:

We finished up the finals of our morning knockouts (with the Zoe/Wash-like couple from Mexico) first, and then we had the afternoon to ourselves. We did some coupon runs at the suburban casinos, and then we went to Bally’s to see The Price Is Right Live!, in which audience members are randomly selected to play pricing games from the show. We didn’t win anything, but we had a bonzer good time anyways. Our host was Marc Summers, from Double Dare! We saw someone win loads on Plinko, and my DH’s shouting won someone a prize or two. Oh, and if I’d been in the final showcase, I would have won the car (my guess was within $100 of the actual price). šŸ™‚ I window shop way too much to not be good at that show. I was also thinking of Barney the whole time. After that, we met up with a bridge-friend who was in town but *wasn’t* playing bridge! (Blasphemer!) We went out to dinner with him and fed him bridge tidbits to help quell his natural urges. Then, we changed into fancy clothes (the same outfits from Friday night mostly) and headed over to the Elton John show.

Hmm…what to say about the show… Well, first, let me say that my DH told me that when he was getting the tickets, the staff strenuously warned everyone several times that this was NOT A FAMILY SHOW and that there would be artistic and tasteful nudity and sexual innuendo. They were right. I don’t think there was anything there that I’d be ashamed to have a kid see, but I know parents who would be bugged. If you go to the photo gallery (and the spoilers are done now, so feel free), you can see a few pictures I took of the stage. There were lots of inflatables used during the concert. I didn’t get a picture of them, but there were some huge inflatable tits hanging over the audience. There were also a bunch of neon lights that blinked in a way to suggest dilapidation when they were used. The back of the stage had several giant TV screens that showed images to go with the music. I also can’t say that I knew every song, but I knew most of them. I think the tough part for EJ for this show is that he has to be at the piano the whole time, so it seems like he was struggling for a visual effect to entertain and give it that Vegas show quality. But, overall, it was very entertaining. If I’d paid the sticker price for the tickets, I might have been disappointed. As with most Vegas shows, it lasted just under two hours, and at $210 a pop (face value for our seats), that’s a bit of a disappointment. But, it was Elton fucking John, so it was awesome.

Oh, let me add that they strictly confiscated cameras at the door, so my Canon Elph was in an electronics check the whole time. The pictures of the concert were taken with my Motorola RIZR Z6, on the sly and completely against the rules. šŸ™‚ That’s also why there’s only a couple of pictures. We were sitting near the aisle, and I had to be covert such that the ushers wouldn’t see me doing it.

Being brilliant, DH hopped up and headed for the electronics check desk and the valet before the last song ended. Then, I followed shortly thereafter. I cannot imagine how long we would have spent waiting in line if we hadn’t done that early exit. The Colosseum at Caesar’s is huge (biggest single-performer stage in the US, I’m told, at 4100 seats…but that seems hard to believe), and they did not seem staffed to get those 4100 people on their way after the show.

Our next stop was Star Trek: the Experience back at LVH. You see, when I got married and had our reception at Quark’s, I’d wanted to get this drink called The Collective. The Collective is a spiral shaped holder for 2, 3, or 5 shots in little pointy shot glasses. It’s colorful, and I love shots. However, my DH was worried about putting shots on our reception menu. We were covering the bar tab ourselves, and shots add up fast. If they’re being sold in the 5’s, like these are, it’s $30 for the group…so you can see where that would be a concern. As the bride, I could have ordered it anyways, but I felt that would impolite when I wasn’t offering it to my guests. So, I’d planned to have it during my bachelorette party or later in the weekend. That never happened, because we got too busy with other things.

As it happens, ST:tE is closing down in September of this year, so this trip was my last chance for the Collective. This was also the other night that B* was free to stay out late, so the plan was that we’d get sloshed at ST:tE and then play it by ear from there. About three weeks ago, when I’d told B* about the closing of the experience, he’d told his friends who had then, no joke, made immediate plans to fly out to Vegas for while he was there, just to go see it before it went away. So, he had friends in town, and we didn’t know what they’d be up for doing.

We ended up getting sloshed and then playing one round of the midnight zip KOs. šŸ™‚ I played with B* and my dear husband played with another bridge friend of ours that we’d played with at the Detroit NABC. I wanted to go out dancing again, but B* ended up having to get up early after all (to go to the Grand Canyon with friends & family), and we were short on transportation options, being sloshed. Instead, we got a ride back to CR from sober people. We paid homage to the Horgon of Risa for a bit before falling asleep. šŸ™‚

Friday, 25 July:

This was our last day in Vegas, and it was mostly uneventful. There was some more Risa worship in the morning. Then, we went over to the Palazzo (Venetian’s new suite/condo tower) to check it out and play a coupon (winning $26 in the process). We did a few other coupon runs and then headed to the airport.

***

Now, we have a quiet weekend to recover before going back to work next week…which is a really nice way to end a vacation. It’s almost an accident. We couldn’t get a reasonable price for a flight that came back on Saturday or Sunday.

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