Friday, November 13, 2009
Viva Las Vegas
We returned for what was scheduled to be a one night gig, 9 years on from when we came here to get married. Once again the Hard Rock Café chain provided what for some might be a surprisingly tasteful hotel option. Tasteful in terms of room décor and in terms of its museum like arrangement of rock memorabilia and photos, but, yes, also tasteful in terms of Vegas, which really shouldn’t be judged by conventional notions of taste at all. More important than these average musings is the fact that as soon as we found the check in desk (not easy) and duly checked in, we returned to the Pink Taco. Not a gay Mexican food chain but a bar that made you feel very happy and provided very good food. The bar itself, like many bars in Vegas, has gambling machines indented in its very surface. This though didn’t detract us. The margaritas, however, did, and provided an exciting stimulant at 2 in the afternoon, which a light tapas-style mex lunch didn’t interfere with too much. That night we checked out Caesar’s Palace, not the concert hall, where Frank was performing with Sammy again but for the first time was united with Barbara, but the gambling area were we settled in for another margarita and watched the world go by. Hunger pains sent us out and about on the strip before we chanced upon a hitherto unknown venue (to us). “Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville”. Having a liking for some of his material (see London revue in my July blog), having a good friend who is totally devoted to the man, and a penchant for margaritas, we couldn’t resist a chance to, well, drink more margaritas to the accompaniment of the man who has created a margarita musical culture all of his own. Of course Jimmy wasn’t there in person, but his endorsement and his music, and the general ambience of parrots, pacific isle chic and, eh, margaritas, made for an attractive option. We were seated at the end and could witness “parrotheads” dining en masse and a newlywed couple dining out in style. The African American groom - unembarrassed by his “parrothead” balloon adornment – was, like his white wife, dressed in what, by Vegas standards, was very smart, almost conservative, wedding garb. Our waiter kept us well oiled, allowed us to acquire for our friend a souvenir menu, and generally made our time there a breeze. Next stop was, to be honest, a disappointment. Our Afghani cab driver seemed sure that there would be live music (why would you seek advice on this matter from an Afghani?), but nine years on "The Voodoo Lounge", where previously we had hung out after our wedding, is no longer a music venue. In truth it’s an average disco whose sampling of dance classics pumped out to a largely middle aged crowd seemed somehow pointless. It was great though to see the place again – its several levels of roof top drinking spaces and impressive inner bar makes for an attractive venue. As the DJ weaved in a few seconds of Curtis Mayfield we wondered aloud how much more conducive to dancing for this (or possibly any) crowd the playing of the real thing would actually have been. Our taxi driver regaled us with the evils of the public health option and dismissed my drunken attempts at postulating the virtues of market regulation, before blessing our Queen and conceding that this was an issue best left to us to debate. Back at the Hard Rock the earlier conversion to gin was no longer proving smooth. The benefit however of the next morning’s ill health was an unplanned second day at the hotel which was very conducive to my health indeed.