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[Confessions of a Showgirl]

A night in the life of a showgirl at sea

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Maren Wade

They say the Vegas theater world is like one giant cruise ship for performers. To a certain extent, I can see how that’s true. In fact, many of us enjoy the sexy and salty sea life for a handful of years, before realizing it may be more practical to create a life on land.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Since several Vegas showgirls have at one point or another worked on ships, I’d like to walk you through a day at sea:

You are at the theater. It’s showtime. You have performed this show a thousand times before. You feel confident and grounded in your performance. After all, you do this every night and you’re a professional. Here comes the part where you have to cross from stage right to stage left. (Seems simple enough because you learned your right from left in kindergarten.) Except this particular night, the ship begins to list. Stage left suddenly turns into upstage, and now you’re climbing Mount Everest to get to the other side.

Just when you think you’re leveling out, the ship starts rocking. You tell yourself you can continue with the show. You will sail on! But then, the stage disappears beneath your feet. For a split second you’re defying gravity … then the stage comes crashing back. It’s like jumping on a trampoline—only the trampoline is doing all the jumping.

In the midst of the worst vertigo you could possibly imagine, the dreaded realization that you didn’t take your motion sickness pills sets in. What’s that saying: “What goes up must come down”? Well, it’s definitely coming up. Think fast—how are you going to get offstage before the unthinkable happens? You’re looking for a clear exit, but there are dancers all around you, and with every sway of the ship, dancers are falling like dominos.

It’s every showgirl for herself. You’ve lost your moorings. You are prepared to do whatever is necessary to get off that stage. You shove, you push, you claw your way to the closest wing. You anchor yourself in a corner, and you dock … right in a trashcan. Mission accomplished! (Okay, I have a confession to make. I mean, you have a confession to make. You’re not sure if it was a trashcan. It was dark. It was a bin of some sort.)

Of course, not all days at sea were that rocky; most were very relaxing. It was amazing to have a different part of the world at your doorstep every day. When the time came for me to decide whether I should continue life at sea or move to Vegas, it wasn’t easy.

I miss my days traveling on a cruise ship. I loved marveling at the Egyptian pyramids, riding the gondolas in Venice, treading the paths of Roman history at the Coliseum and scaling the Eiffel Tower, but I love all that Vegas has to offer as well. Wait, I think I just had déjà vu.

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