‘We would be in a show for old bags to get that feeling again’
Thu, Mar 5, 2009 (midnight)
Photo: Bill Hughes
It looked like a high-school reunion, except everyone was way too good-looking. The name tags seemed mostly unnecessary. “No one here has aged,” said one attendee.
When the women posed for commemorative photos, two to a man, their smiles were perfect, wide and white, and each woman arched a leg, just so, in a familiar pose: the kind used in photos of showgirls on the Strip. This group, now adults in business suits and designer outfits—some with kids in tow—were veterans of the old Stardust revue Enter the Night. Ten years after the show closed, they gathered last week for a reunion at the Bahama Breeze restaurant.
“Did you ever see the show?” one former dancer asked. I had noticed that as they shared memories, they hardly mentioned the actual show. His point was that the show was no great work of art, yet Enter the Night brought together and transformed the lives of an extraordinarily talented group of people. Each night they would bond backstage as they went through relationships, graduated school, had children and became adults together.
Enter the Night was a successor to the long-running Lido de Paris, opening in 1992 and running until 1999, when the Stardust went to a headliner format. To former dancer Michelle Shensky-Silva, whose tenure dated back to Lido and continued until the closing of Enter the Night, the latter show truly comprised a cast like no other:
“This is the first reunion for cast and crew of Enter the Night. It was meant to be a more contemporary and upbeat platform than Lido. But for us, the Enter the Night cast is the most generous group of people we have ever worked with. It was a very unique cast. Even as we moved through life, we have continued to support each other. This is not usual. This is a transient town. But we miss the camaraderie. We would be in a show for old bags to get that feeling again. You can’t get it in the corporate world. ”
Like many of the 50-75 people present, Shensky-Silva no longer lives in Vegas, nor is she involved with show business. She lives in New Orleans, where she is taking time off from her public-relations career to raise a child.
Another former dancer, Michael Davies, came to the reunion from Arlington, Virginia. His business card boasted the title Project Analyst Consultant, Contractor—East Asia. Among his clients: the United States government. So how do you go from dancing in a gaudy Vegas show to managing projects in developing countries?
“You can’t do it the other way around,” he said. “I miss Vegas a lot. I worked with a lot of amazing talent, and I took that drive from Enter the Night to do something new.”
If there was one person the public identified with in Enter the Night, it was Aki, “the Showgirl for the 21st Century.” Now, in the 21st century, Akke Levin is a lawyer at the local firm of Morris Peterson. She looked back fondly on her time gracing billboards and having her image decorate an airplane. But her plan all along was to use show business as a route to her future career. Still splendidly attractive, Levin happily noted, “I specialize in commercial litigation. We represent mostly big corporations in complex litigation.
“It is awesome to see everyone,” she said of the reunion. Like the others, she missed the people more than the show: “I don’t miss performing. I love my job, as nerdy as it sounds. But there is nothing like the show-kids mentality. I miss that. The life backstage, the pranks we played on each other and the camaraderie. It isn’t something you can have in the corporate world.”
Did her clients know about her time as the showgirl of the future?
“I don’t showcase it around. I made a business card when I graduated that read ‘A Lawyer for the 21st Century’ to celebrate. Sometimes clients after a year make the connection, because the name sounds familiar. They don’t recognize my face or anything. But I am so distanced from it.” She was interrupted by a couple of other former performers who greeted her. “At the same time,” she said as they departed, “it feels like yesterday.”