Drinking with mermaids
Mermaids is fun, filled with fish and ideal for field trips
Wed, Oct 28, 2009 (2:35 p.m.)
Photo: Beverly Poppe
“Apparently, there are mermaids,” I told my friend as he took a seat next to me at the bar in the Mermaids Lounge in the Silverton Casino Lodge.
He gave me a good stare and said simply, “They don’t exist.”
“Not on Wednesdays, silly,” I glanced at the 117,000-gallon saltwater aquarium, which was the size of most clubs’ VIP sections. Nothing but exotic fish. “Today is their day off.”
Mermaids Lounge can be classified in the Vegas Bar taxonomy as Novelty Aquaticus, sharing the classification with the Seahorse Lounge at Caesars Palace. Mermaids’ main draw is its theme. Minus the giant aquarium with approximately 4,000 fish, and ignoring the smaller psychedelic tanks of spinning jellyfish behind the bar, the place itself is fairly standard: Decent selection of beers on tap. Plush chairs around low tables. Cocktails that are a dollar too expensive for my taste but typical for a casino bar.
My two guy friends who had been eager to accompany me on this barventure were a little disappointed. They couldn’t pinpoint what they’d been expecting, but I imagine it was one of two things:
1) A more rocking place, with a younger, hipper crowd, more girls and music more cutting-edge than what they described as “Super hits of the mid- to late ’90s.”
2) A place so extremely tacky that it hits you on the head with a wallop of found irony.
But Mermaids is neither hip nor tacky. The place is geared to the shoppers of the neighboring Bass Pro Shops, people who have both the money and the inclination to spend thousands of dollars on hunting gear. My friends found this flavor of tasteful novelty to be unironic, plain vanilla.
- Mermaids Lounge
- Inside the Silverton, 3333 Blue Diamond Road, 263-7777.
But what this bar lacks in excitement, it makes up for in field trips. When you get bored of Middle America/sea life, you can take a break and visit the Mermaid Cove Art Gallery, which is next to the window of mermaid souvenirs for purchase. The same friends who were unimpressed with the bar spent countless moments of joy viewing the art gallery, most of it laughing. Not that this fine example of populist art is “bad”; it’s just easy to mock.
The aquarium itself offers the most field-trip potential. While the bar has waterside seating, most of the “action” happens on the side of the tank that faces the casino floor. So when the scuba diver fed the fish, I gleefully ran around the fish tank to get a better view. I felt a little silly literally crowding around children to watch stingrays and sharks eat dinner … until I noticed my two blasé friends also running to see the feedings.
During a Thursday-evening fish feeding, the aquatics safety manager pointed out a fish called the humpback wrasse. He explained how it can change genders in order to even the male-to-female ratio. I looked over to the bar of mostly well-to-do countrified men. What would need to change in order to balance the crowd? Without a doubt, this was the most educational bar I’ve ever been to.
Where was the mermaid? We were all desperate to know. We’d watched the 7:30 p.m. feed show and were anxious for this mythical creature’s 8 p.m. appearance. “I wouldn’t wait this long to see a go-go dancer,” I said. “And she probably would show more skin.”
My friend laughed and cracked the first of many nautical jokes of the night, all of which sounded much funnier at the time. “What happens when they feed the mermaid? Do they chuck a chicken in there?”
When a lady finally appeared in a mermaid body suit, my friend exclaimed, “She’s got goggles! Mermaids don’t have goggles.” His expectations were wounded, but the kids (who seem to pop out of nowhere whenever sea creatures are involved) didn’t mind.
It’s fun to drink a beer and watch a mermaid swim. (If nothing else, the absurdity intensifies the alcohol’s effects.) But after a while the novelty wears off, and you need more stimulation to get the same thrill. Two years ago you could get that with the mermaid show. But the economy went bad, and there were the inevitable mermaid layoffs, which, as the bartender explained, is probably healthier for the fish.
Forgoing waterlife, my friends and I took a tipsy trip through the Bass Pro Shops (located next door). We recommend the 50-cent sobriety test, i.e., the laser-rifle shooting range. Hit fewer than five targets, and you need another round of mermaid free swim before hitting the road.