Part 1: Las Vegas

I’m back from the City of Sin. It’s been a few days but I’ve been enjoying myself at a work conference in Las Vegas. I saw amazing circus, wandered the hotels, seen wondrous spectacular free shows, and enjoyed some of the sites of this crazy city. I’ll be detailing my visit in the next couple of days.

Before I get into the particulars, I had a lot of time to ponder what I think of Vegas. This was my fourth trip to the city but it’s definitely my longest. But I’ve always loved it. It’s not my favorite city to visit but I do love its brashness and extravagance. (Though I do admit that I usually tire of the place in about two days. This time, I think the conference sustained me.) I know some dislike or even hate the city. I can understand it. The city does try to extract every dollar from you, whether from the gambling to the outrageous fees ($100 minimums!). Others point to the superficiality of the place. Some object to the city’s ability to lure you into bad behavior (sex, money, etc.) But for me, despite all these reasons to despise the city, I love wandering through the currents of humanity. Sure, some people are downright obnoxious but some part of me admires the fact that there is a place like Vegas. You can be anything here. Rent a bandage dress if you want. Live the high life for a little bit. Or not. It’s up to you and your willingness to spend.

And I do love me a good spectacle. Oh goodness yes. Why be mellow and quiet when you can be brash and bold?

Well, those are some thoughts on the City of Sin. Let’s talk about what I did there.

On my very first night, I decided that I wanted to see a show. I had originally wanted to see Penn & Teller but the logistics didn’t quite work out. So I decided to trust in fate to one of those half price ticket booths on the Strip. But no mistake, the tickets are not half price there. And there was a lot of racing about to get the tickets in time for the show. But I was keen on a show. I ended up seeing Cirque de Soleil show “Zarkana” at the ARIA.

I liked it. I’ll say that it wasn’t the best circus show I’ve seen but it definitely was worth it. The advertising described it as surreal and that is fair. Some of the scenery choices were downright bizarre, which suited me. It had a large stage, which was covered in these incredible screens that would change depending on the scene. It was a new way to deal with backdrops. There were backdrops of eyeballs, snakes, gears and much more. The show had a steampunk feel to it as well. As for the circus, there were one absolutely outstanding acts. My favorite was a large group acrobatics act that was stupendous. Best I’ve seen. There was a trick that involved flipping a woman on top of a three high (Two people standing on someone’s shoulders), making it into a four high. Damn. I’ve never seen that before. And it was flawless.

The rest of the circus was good, not great. Many of the acts were things that I had seen before, like the wheel of death or a lovely duo straps act. But they were delightful to watch. The production value of the show was off the charts. There was also a spectacular Cyr wheel act (giant single metal hoop that you can put your body in). It had a strange space theme with all the performers wearing greenish blue costumes with giant balls coming off of them, Now I’ve definitely seen better Cyr wheel acts in Chicago but there is something magnificent about seeing six people on the Cyr wheel at once. And above them were strange curled hoops (like misshapen Lyras) where aerialists danced overhead. Spectacular.

Another pretty sweet bit involved two tight wirewalkers, or funambulists, on a wire. In the middle, a pendulum of fire swung making things really dicey for them. Behind there was a singing woman in a serpent costume that enveloped the entire stage. In front of her, several women in less spectacular serpentine costumes danced in front of fire. The tight wirewalkers did things like jumping over one another while the pendulum swung. Now, it wasn’t the best wire walking I’ve seen (that would be in Chicago with my teacher) but it was pretty damn cool.

There was also this neat acrobatics duo. A man and woman came out with a ladder. The woman climbed on the ladder and then she put a harness on, which was unusual. She began doing some nice hand balancing acts on the ladder and then climbed on the man. He then walked up the ladder with the lady on him. So he was balancing on a ladder with a woman on his shoulders/head. Very impressive. It totally explained the need for the harness because wow… At one point, they added another ladder for the lady to climb up. So cool.

The clowning was okay. They did do a strange bit with an electric chair that involved audience participation. Two clowns were exploded a watermelon and then tried to convince each other to get in the chair. That’s when they decided to find an audience member. Very strange. I’m still not sure what to do with that. But they did have a nice bit where they shot a clown out of a rocket and he swam serenely over our heads. (He was in a harness of course) The stage lit up like the universe. Very pretty.

That’s all for now!

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