I went to Las Vegas for the first time last weekend. I won't deny I had a blast on the trip, but I have mixed feelings about the city itself. Vegas has a fascinating past. Originally established as a stopover on pioneer trails, Las Vegas later became a major railroad town. The casino-hotel industry was initially run by mobsters but later made into a legitimized form of business by Howard Hughes. Iconic images of Las Vegas in the early part of the 20th century illustrate a town filled with glamour, luxury, and decadence. The men were charming and the women were enchanting. While a lot of that opulence still remains (especially in some of the beautiful hotels), the seedy past has come to dominate modern Las Vegas.
The Las Vegas of today is dirty - plain and simple. It’s polluted, smokey and outright nasty. You feel the grime building up on your skin the longer you’re there. The grime then permeates your body, dirtying your soul as well. I’ve often heard Vegas described as “adult Disneyland.” This couldn’t be farther from the truth. When you visit Disneyland, you are instantly transported to a magical, Utopian world. You leave feeling happy and uplifted, no matter how exhausted you are, and you can’t wait to return. Vegas, on the other hand, is more akin to a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah. Instead of magical and Utopian, you’re transported to a sordid and soiled underworld. The men are pathetic and the women are desperate. You leave feeling drained and dejected. The mere thought of returning makes you nauseous.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved the time I had with my friends – the breakfasts, the gatherings in our hotel rooms, the late-night burgers and milkshakes, the afternoon walk through the Bellagio lobby - and I am incredibly grateful for the chance to unwind with people I love. I also know not everyone feels the way I do about Las Vegas. Some people truly love their time in Sin City and can’t wait to return. But I’ve seen Vegas in all its gritty glory. For me, the Vegas experience was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I’m okay with that.