BiSClaimer: You’re about to experience my six-day Vegas adventure in the span of one post. If you’re not ready to take in all the awesome through text, video and images galore, turn back now. Once I start, I will not stop until it’s out of my system. You have been warned.
“What was BiSC? …It was Casey.”
— Amanda Kruse
It’s been almost a solid month since Bloggers in Sin City, and it’s taken about this long to get off the buzz from my BiSC-uit high. In the time since I’ve been back, I’ve volunteered at a national conference, listened to amazing speakers, eaten delicious food and got up to much of the madness I would’ve done before I went to BiSC.
But it just wasn’t the same.
When I got back, many friends and family members expected that I’d spent all my time partying, getting drunk and gambling, because that’s what you do in Vegas, right? At least that’s what TV and movies tell us.
But there’s so much more to the Vegas experience than you can imagine. You need the right people and the right opportunities to make it happen, though!
After Simone had finally convinced me to get some BiSC in my life and I spent four months getting to know my new friends through the magic of Facebook, the date to fly out to Vegas snuck up out of nowhere and Had me flying south in search of adventure! I’d been looking forward to BiSC for months, but didn’t really know what to expect from it. Would it be a simple networking event, where I’d chat about blogging with other bloggers and gain new insights to bring back home? That couldn’t be right—if that’s all it was, I don’t think it’d inspire messages like this from the people who couldn’t make it:
So maybe it was a bit more than just networking. But would I fit in? There were enough people going as repeat attendees, and although I knew Simone, I was sure that she’d have plenty of her own things to keep her busy. But I’d bought tickets and my spot confirmed, so away I went to find out what BiSC was all about!
Day 1—Leaving on a Jet Plane: Getting in to the City of Sin
With a 5 PM flight and a half-day of work to do before leaving, that Wednesday was insanely hectic (understatement). I wrapped up my to-dos at work and was lucky enough that Christine was willing to give me a ride to the airport, because if she hadn’t:
- I wouldn’t have had time to go home and pick up a carry-all bag to bring on the plane, which I only discovered I could do after a lengthy discussion with my new friends going to BiSC (who I’ll refer to as BiSC-uits from here on); and
- I wouldn’t have had enough time to switch flights to Washington after my first flight got cancelled.
I applaud myself for being able to sleep just about anywhere, as I passed out in my window seat well into each flight’s first few minutes. I’d also like to applaud myself for waking up just in time for apple juice and pretzels.
Things you Quickly Learn When You’re Travelling
- The Mophie Juice Pack is great in theory, but with a USB port that’s flimsy as hell, it became nothing more than an expensive case for my Galaxy S III that I needed to take off every time I wanted to charge the phone. Which was often.
- No two airports are alike—when layovers saw me taking shuttle buses between terminals, wandering halls with horrible signage in the dead of the night and having nutritional options between vending machines and questionable fast food, I knew that I missed Pearson International back in Toronto and its simplicity
Bob was kind enough to let me crash in his room for the night, so I got in touch with him with figure out what I was doing when I got off the plane… only to end up pre-drinking with a handful of the other BiSC-uits who’d come early at the Flamingo’s Center Cut Steakhouse.
(Incidentally, it turns out that the physiology of female ducks has a natural defence against unwanted sexual advances. This is a demonstration of that.)
Day 2—BiSC Day 1: We Don’t Take No Bull
A night’s rest later, I would soon re-discover the Golden Rule of Distance on the Vegas Strip—just because you can see your destination, it doesn’t make it close. Buildings in Vegas are massive, and while there’s often a “best path” that’ll get you where you want to go, Google Maps aren’t good enough to tell you which exit is the best one out of a casino yet!
High-tailing it from the MGM Grand to Hash House a Go Go on a hot Vegas day, I lumbered into brunch with all my stuff, apologizing for being 5 minutes late. But it worked out and I filled my belly with an Andy’s Sage Fried Chicken Benedict (which is considerably less crazy than the Andy’s Sage Fried Chicken Farm Benedict), so all’s well that ends well!
BiSC itself started on an amazing note, getting to know our new cohorts in crime over Cards Against Humanity, “Canadian Candy” as our southern neighbours called it (fun fact: Americans don’t have Smarties like we know them in Canada—what they call Smarties, we call Rockets) and hugs, stroopwafels and good times galore!
Something I’ve wanted to do each time I’ve gone to Vegas is ride New York New York’s roller coaster, and I finally got to do it this time!
It wasn’t worth it. Sure it has twists and turns and angles and loops, but it was way too rough on my weary old bones.
Our next stop was at the Cosmopolitan’s Holstein’s, stuffing our faces with delicious burgers and milkshakes. I’d choose the Rising Sun, a delicious combination of Kobe beef, sweet teriyaki sauce and tempura avocado that definitely hit the spot. (I’d later discover that Kobe beef served in America isn’t true Kobe beef due to a trade embargo linked to health concerns, but that’s neither here nor there.)
After some downtime in the room at the Flamingo (whereupon I’d discover that I’d forgotten my iPod at home)…
…it was off to Serendipity 3 for some mixing, 8-second hugs and a staring contest battle royale… which I lost in the second round to a fellow Canadian.
The good thing about an event like this is that everyone was firmly attached to their smartphones, making it very easy to discover that we’d put an after-party together at the Flamingo’s Margaritaville, where we danced our butts off to tunes like LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know it”.
After a while, I found myself drafted into Simone’s “I Need to Ride a Bull” group, and we made our way to Gilley’s at Treasure Island to do exactly that. Sure, we ran into a drunk guy who turned out to be a Grade-A douchebag (sorry about that Germana), but it turned out okay in the end, and Simone showed that bull who’s boss!
But little did I know that the first day of BiSC would only be the preview….
Day 3—BiSC Day 2: The Pool Party to End All Pool Parties (and the Club Experience We Wished Would Just END)
One of the best things about the swag bag was that they gave us things we could use immediately, which helped me party harder instead of worrying about breaking my stuff. At Friday’s pool party, for example, I rocked my Firmoo sunglasses, Craft to the Radio bow tie and FredFlare talking Japanese watch (yes, you read that right) with pride as I rocked out both in and out of the Flamingo Go Pool, dancing to some sweet tunes and enjoying the cool concoctions put together by the pool’s bartending wizard, Rodrigo!
But that’s okay.
A nap and a shower later, I was (somewhat) good to go for the evening, with a dinner at Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino’s Spice Market buffet (which I barely touched due to my nausea) and Cirque du Soleil’s “O” at the Bellagio in the cards.
We wrapped the night up with a confused visit to the Brand Lounge at Monte Carlo—a tiny, overpriced shoebox of a club with black walls, light shows that any epileptic should steer clear of, and a DJ that made my iPod playlists look amazing. (They almost wouldn’t let me in with my camera! See photo above….) I can’t stress enough how much you want to steer clear of this place. Save your money.
Day 4—BiSC Day 3: Fashion Faux Pas and City Lights While Dressed in White
A Brunch of Champions!
After brunch on Saturday, we had a do-as-you-please day. I originally planned to hit the minu5 Ice Bar, but after discovering that I couldn’t take my camera in there (as electronics would melt the ice), I decided that my time would be better spent elsewhere.
Enter The Cheesecake Factory.
Marian and Michelle let me know they were down with the plan to stuff their faces full of cheesecakey goodness, so I told them I’d be all over it after a mini-photo shoot with Erin (you’d be surprised at how many photographers have no good shots of themselves)!
But when I finally found my way to the Forum Shops at Caesar’s, it’d turn out that some of my new BiSC-uit friends already had something in mind for killing my time…
The Ugly Fashion Show @ H&M
The good thing about this group is that they can make fun out of just about anything—even trying clothes on!
When I (finally) got to H&M, I was informed that an outfit had already been picked out for me (which was evidently difficult since I can apparently make just about any outfit work) and that I was to try it on as soon as humanly possible!
What resulted from that… is this:
While I could’ve totally made the vest work, I couldn’t see myself regularly wearing it back in Toronto, so we sent the clothes back from whence they came and moved on with our days.
I totally got my Cheesecake Factory on, though, and gobbled it down with a side of StackWines, leaving more than enough time to get ready for the…
WHITE PARTY!!! (or “A Lesson in Why Staying in VIP is Always Better Than Dealing With the Unclean Masses”)
After getting our pre-party on and obligatory posing for awesome photos at the Center Cut Steakhouse, we paraded over to PURE Nightclub at Caesar’s Palace to get our groove on!
The ambience was tight—a reserved, VIP area for us BiSC-uits on PURE’s rooftop, soaking in the warm Vegas night and pulsating neon all around us. None of us were really vibing to the music (turns out a Canadian contingent that went there every May 2-4 booked a good chunk of the roof to party and bought a DJ with them this year who played trippy, obscure electronic dance music), but that didn’t stop me from making new friends from Vancouver who were more than happy to share their alcohol with me.
Which was good, because water cost $10 a bottle.
Rumour had it that the real party was happening downstairs, so a bunch of us went to investigate! While the music was live, the club was rammed, vomitus pungent in the air, and all manner of hands grabbing at the women in our group as they tried to get their groove on.
Viva Las Vegas.
We danced a while, but I’m certain that Las Vegas clubs break every fire code applicable to them, because wading through that crowd to find somewhere to dance was not easy.
Eventually, PURE’s novelty would wear thin, but none of us knew how good we had it. That is, until we went to ACT.
Found in The Shoppes at the Palazzo, ACT is an edgier club with an “older” look to it and what may be the most horrendous layout ever. Ample room for go-go dancers in the centre? They got that. Narrow lanes for both servers and drunken patrons to use to hit the dance floor? They got that! Multiple theatre-style levels for no conceivable reason at all? Oh yes, ACT has you covered!
I didn’t last long. With the price of Las Vegas liquor (but again, I didn’t pay at ACT since someone was kind enough to buy me a Heineken) and my being very much not single, the allure just didn’t last. I left to make the walk back to The Flamingo on sore and tired feet, but was very happy when I bumped into Kate and we walked back to the hotel together, in what was one of my favourite conversations and moments of the weekend, since we hadn’t really connected before that.
Day 5—BiSC Day 4: The End of an Era… in the Cheesiest Way Possible
The official BiSC festivities wrapped up with a farewell brunch, where everyone got their feelings out and all the tears were finally shed as everyone faced the end of a five-year run of amazing. While none of us knew what was to come next, we all swore to keep in touch. As I noted before, we’d gotten deep under each other’s skins in a matter of days—bonds that weren’t so easily broken. Deep inside we knew this wouldn’t be farewell forever….
…which was good, because I still had a day and a half in Vegas ahead of me!
Our first stop was at In-N-Out Burger, where you can get so much greasy food for so very little. After surviving a massive lineup and securing what seats we could, I chowed down on an animal style burger with a side of fries, and got an extra-large drink just because I could.
After some more teary-eyed hugs and warbled “see you soons”, Dominique and I struggled to find a cab to get to…
The Neon Museum
FUN FACT: Did you know that in Las Vegas it’s apparently illegal for a taxi to pick someone up when they’re hailing the cab from the curbside? The more you know!
After quite the long cab ride north (12 minutes according to Google Maps if there’s no traffic—but more like a half hour when you account for it!), we arrived at the Neon Boneyard, now known by the more refined name—The Neon Museum!
The Neon Museum is an outdoor gallery of signage. Tons of it still needs restoring, so there’s lots of broken glass and sharp edges—don’t be an idiot and veer from the path! Those rocks aren’t as secure as they look! (Don’t worry—I didn’t discover this through personal experience!)
I’m usually not much of a history buff, but I’m drawn to a bright colour palette, so a side trip to see old neon signs was so on! Our guide would take us through Vegas history and offer nuggets of insight that you wouldn’t know otherwise… but I was too busy taking photos to pay much attention. Totally ask Tiffany if you want to know about any of that.
You’d think that staying at the hotel holding the Billboard Music Awards would be pretty awesome—unless you’re trying to get a taxi. And so began the tale of our 40-minute walk to The Venetian to get to our dinner plans (which was still probably quicker than waiting in that ridiculous line).
Otto Enoteca is a swanky Italian joint in The Venetian, and while I heard the pizza was to die for, we were really there for some meat and cheese platters!
These guys make some delicious prosciutto. Pair it with some Parmigiano Reggiano, the brandy-infused cherries, truffle-laden honey and a good serving of quality bread and it’s heaven. (Thanks to Bob for making that happen!)
After losing a few more BiSC-uits to their respective paths home, I took a long stroll down Las Vegas Boulevard, soaking in the sights, the sounds and the crisp night air. I took perch on a stool at the MGM’s 24-hour Starbucks and got some thoughts committed to paper.
One more day.
Better make the most of it!
Day 6—Escape from Las Vegas!!!
There’s a reason why they say that four days in more than enough time to spend in Vegas—while surrounded by a bevvy of beauteous bloggers, the manufactured “beauty” that Vegas has in spades is of an entirely different breed. The clubs teemed with people who’d very obviously invested more in clothes, tans and hair product that most people do in buying cars, all in search of the next drink, lay or high. You know the people in the club who think they’re more important than anyone else, elbowing people out of the way to secure a spot?
Have you seen what happens when those people are all the people?
I think what I craved more than anything after an extended stay in the City of Sin was more normalcy.
Mon Ami Gabi
Not having to get out of bed at any specific time is a glorious thing, but the show must go on! The day began with an amazing breakfast at Mon Ami Gabi, Paris’ steakhouse with amazing meal to offer!
After eating my first Eggs Benedict ever (and loving it), thee were only a few more stops to make before calling Las Vegas a wrap for the foreseeable future!
The Las Vegas Sign, or, “Cabs Don’t Come Out This Way”
A number of the BiSC-uits wanted photos of them jumping in front of the Welcome to Las Vegas sign, and my companions for the day were no exception. Getting there was easy enough—a 10-minute cab ride from the MGM Grand and BAM!—we were there!
Our side quest was a smidge harder, though. We had a Delta Sigma Theta sorority member with us, and since they collect elephants as a hobby (in homage to Delta Sigma Theta alum Florence Letcher Toms), we went to the Diamond Inn Motel where you found the saddest-looking pink elephant on its lawn—and the shadiest looking clientele in its rooms, eyeing the women I was with up and down while we waited for our cab the motel called for us.
The cab that never came.
In the end, we walked a bit and I needed to ask a cabbie who was on his break at Subway to give us a ride to the Cosmo, where we were meeting the last of the BiSC-uits for a Holstein’s send-off—not quite a last supper, but a great way to wrap things up!
ROSS aka RO-ZAY aka The Bawse
“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
And then there were four.
With only so much time left to kill and some packing yet to be done, you’d think there wouldn’t be time left for a shopping trip, right?
But I was wrong. Oh so very wrong.
Not being a fan of shopping, I’ve largely blocked out the memory of being trapped in an endless sea of affordable apparel with a dead phone in my pocket and my anxious eyes on my watch, but this is what I’ve learned from my ROSS experience:
- No man is at ROSS to shop. This is proven by the piddly men’s section on the top floor and two floors of women’s clothing extending farther than the human mind can fully comprehend
- There is but one law that governs ROSS: the law of CHAOS. Sales clerks: try to get that hot mess of footwear back on the shelves as much as you like, but there is no hope at ROSS. You’re screwed as badly as Prometheus, and he got his liver eaten daily by an eagle, only to have it regenerate at night. Same thing.
- Much like Winners up here in Canada, if you let your eyes wander too much, you’ll fall prey to the “ROSS Effect”—buying things you clearly don’t need, but you get because they’re there. The cure? Escape from ROSS as quickly as possible!!!
And so, a little sad, considerably tired and very Vegased out, our trip came to an end. We had lives to return to, and a stay in the City of Sin can’t last forever—nor should it. I said my goodbyes and made my way to McCarran, where I began my long trek home with some of my leftover swag in tow (a GelaSkins gift card, a QuirkBooks book—”The Perfect Cocktail for Every Occasion”, a Kevin Zraly wine stopper I gave to my wife though she won’t use it for another 6 months at least, a snack coupon for Hail Merry Snacks, my Moo Cards, my HTC water bottle, and a USB from CustomUSB—holy jeez, how did I find the room for all this in my luggage???).
While I’m pretty sure that this was my last trip to Vegas in a very long time, I’m glad I got to end it the way I did. Whether you’re a Vegas virgin or vet, I hope you get to check it out sometime and that my posts help guide you to some of the awesomeness that Vegas has to offer!
The BiSC-uits and I still keep connected weeks later, and still show that we care for each other. Though I didn’t fill it out myself (I wish I’d found time to get to know everyone well), it was still fun to see what everyone thought of each other with Jenn’s #BiSC Class Superlatives exercise!
Here’s the ones that got attributed to me:
- Most likely to school you in a dance battle: @doomzTO
- Best Smile: @doomzTO
- Most Contagious Personality: @doomzTO
I’m flattered that I had a positive impact on my peers, and need to remember to keep a solid attitude—even in the moments where things don’t seem quite as amazing here in Toronto.
All in all, I think you can summarize the BiSC experience by one thing—a video summary from Almie which is epic not only in its execution, but also how àpropos it is in capturing the madness that linked us all together and made us BiSC-uits for life.
HYFR and YOLO,