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Nightlife

Memorial Day Weekend in Vegas—minus the club

No one plans to drink at the hotel bar … but that doesn’t mean it’s empty

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An abandoned veil—another casualty of MDW in Vegas.
Photo: Rick Lax

If you know what “Oculus” is, you spend too much time on the Strip.

Assuming you don’t: Oculus is Venetian’s generic casino bar—the one across from the poker room. The one at which people meet to complain about how and why they didn’t get into the club. And on Memorial Day Weekend, a lot of people don’t get into the club.

P. and R., two attorneys from California, didn’t plan to spending their night at Oculus. It just sort of happened.

“We waited in line for V Bar,” P. told me, “and when we got to the front, the guy was like, ‘It’s $20 for guys and $10 for girls.’ I’m like, ‘Seriously? This is V bar!’ And then, there was this group of girls in front of us, and the door guy let them in, even though two of them looked like dudes.”

“If it’s $20 for V bar,” R. said, “you can imagine how much it is for Tao …”

There was a clear split at Oculus: There were the people who dressed for the club but didn’t get in (mostly small groups of guys), and then there were people for whom Oculus wasn’t second choice so much as an impulse stop. The people in the second group didn’t begin the night with a game plan—nobody plans to drink at Oculus—they just went where the wind took ’em. Like the guy with the mustache in the fancy cowboy shirt and the 10-gallon hat. And the old white guy in pajama pants with two young black girls by his side. Perfectly content to drink the night away wherever they serve booze.

“How’s traffic this year compared to last year?” I asked the bartender.

“It’s light, but consistent. Some Saturday nights, we’re two or three deep—that means there’s a line or two or three people to get a cocktail, no matter where you’re standing. But tonight, as you can see, you got a seat no problem.”

After serving me a Hendricks martini, the bartender finally noticed the discarded veil, sitting by the video poker machine.

“There was a group of girls here before. I’m sure they’ll remember this thing tomorrow morning.”

The girls couldn’t have been drunker than the guy with whom I shared a 2 a.m., parking garage elevator ride. He had an empty martini glass in his right hand and he was banging it against his forehead … while humming LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem.” He didn’t break the glass, but that’s only because he got to his floor so quickly. If he’d have been parked two or three floors higher, he would have ended the holiday with not only a hangover, but a bloody forehead, too.

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Rick Lax

Rick wrote the books Fool Me Once: Hustlers, Hookers, Headliners, and How Not to Get Screwed in Vegas and Lawyer ...

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