Monday, May 9, 2016

A First-Timer's View of Sin City (Part 2: Do Your Homework Ahead)

Before heading off for five days of fun, I did a little research to try to get some sense of what Las Vegas would be like.  I talked to friends and colleagues, bought a guide book, and read a few blogs in an attempt to try to wrap my mind around what to expect and decide what to do and see.

Having never seen a Cirque du Soleil show before, I wasn't sure which of the eight shows that are available in Las Vegas would be the best.  So I did some searching and found a USA Today article from 2014 that was very helpful.  It listed summaries of all eight shows, ranked them, and even advised  first-time-Cirque-goers about which show to choose.  We took their advice and went to Mystere at Treasure Island.  There were some amazing performers, but this girl had a hard time staying awake during some parts.  Having to lean my head back against my comfy seat to see the trapeze artists coupled with a starting time of 9:30 pm didn't help.  9:30 PM??!!  Haven't these people heard of matinees?  We did get a buy-one-get-one-for-$15 discount deal about a month ahead of time from , so at least I didn't pay full price to take a nap.  Don't judge.

For more tips, I also read this  not-very-pretty-but-very-informative post about 25 things women should know before visiting Vegas.  It gave some good tips, though many of them weren't just for women.  The best advice I received about what to pack, however, came from my colleague, Kelly, who told me I'd need comfortable shoes.  I didn't realize that walking from hotel to hotel exploring the different themes would be such a "thing," so I'm glad she warned me about footwear.  This post gave some good tips, too, though I DID still wear some sequins and DID NOT take any athletic shoes, in spite of their advice. (Puh-lease.  No sequins?  In Vegas?  Why have sequins if you don't wear them in Vegas?)

Fodor's is my go-to travel guide publisher, and their Las Vegas one didn't disappoint.  We bought it for a buck at the library book sale, and it didn't matter that it was from 2014 since little has changed since then.  It even had a whole chapter on gambling including a cheat sheet for blackjack.  Had I decided that $10 a hand was something I was willing to lose, I totally would have sat there at the blackjack table, unembarrassed, with my cheat sheet open.  Fodor's assured me that this was perfectly acceptable, and that, in fact, the dealer would even be willing to tell you what your best odds are as you play if you tell them you're a newbie.  Aren't they thoughtful?!

Another valuable tip came from my colleague, Holly, who had been to Las Vegas just a couple of weeks before our trip.  She encouraged me to get tickets to see Showstoppers at the Wynn.  And oh.  My.  Goodness.  Not only was it just my style (a string of awesome Broadway numbers with amazing dancers and fabulous costumes), but it was at one of the most beautifully decorated hotels in Vegas.  The chandeliers made of glass bubbles made me swoon, and the theater perfectly channeled the glamour of the Art Deco period.  That my in-laws sprung for 3rd row seats was the icing on the cake.  

Even though I had seen live stagings of several of the shows represented before (Chicago, A Chorus Line, Guys and Dolls), I hadn't seen them from the 3rd row!  I had serious leg envy, people.  I'm not gonna lie.  I mean, check out this chick in the picture below doing the splits while in a handstand.  that alone should motivate me to get my rear end to the gym.
And the clever staging of "Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat" from Guys and Dolls with vintage Vegas signs had me slack-jawed.  Loved it.
In spite of my best efforts at preparing myself for what to expect during my first trip to Las Vegas, nothing can really prepare you for the spectacle that is Sin City.  So read the blogs, pore over the travel guides, and poll your friends for their best tips.  But in the end, just go and see it for yourself.  And maybe write a comment or two here about your best advice!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Gina's Derby Don'ts: 20 Things NOT to Do When You Go to the KentuckyDerby

In honor of Derby Day today, I decided to turn a Facebook post I created while attending the 2014 Kentucky Derby into a blog post.  All of the Don'ts represent actual people I saw at the Derby that year, though I wasn't quick enough with my phone to snap a pic of every Don't.

Which leads me to this:  sorry for the crappy photo quality on some of these.  Glamour magazine clearly hires better photographers than I for their iconic "Glamour Dos and Don'ts" column each month.  That said, some of these photos are so bad that they're epic.


Number 1:  Do not wear a felt hat to the Derby.  It's chilly, yes, but it's not December.  Straw or Sinamay are far more appropriate for Spring.

Number 2:  Don't wear black panties with your white linen dress, even if your hat is black and white striped.

Number 3:  Don't wear shoes that are going to fall apart on you (even if they are a luscious turquoise snakeskin that are the perfect height and match your dress exactly) UNLESS you happen to have your shoes fall apart right beside the AWESOME guy in charge of the whole venue who can lickety-split send his minions to get you some Super Glue and then help your husband fix said shoes. 

Number 4:  Don't wear a dress that is only 3 inches longer than your underwear.  It's the Derby not a NASCAR race, honey.

Number 5:  Don't wear athletic shoes with your dress.  Even the horses don't wear running shoes, and they have to speed around that track while you just sit there nursing your mint julep.  On second thought, this girl's probably drinking a beer.

Number 6:  Don't.  Just don't.

Number 7:  Don't get your hat embellished by the floral department at Michael's.  Fake feathers, fake roses, fake hibiscus, oh my!  Less is more, dear.  Less is more.

Number 7:  Don't carry your hat.  Either come prepared to rock that bad boy all day or don't wear one at all.

Number 8:  Don't dress as an alcoholic beverage, even if it is the official beverage of the Derby.

Number 9:  Don't walk around in your sock feet.  It's a HORSE track.  Like, with real horses.  And poop.  Ew.  Keep your shoes on.

Number 10:  Don't wear flip flops beyond your box seat.  I get it that your heels hurt your feet.  I get it that you came prepared with emergency flip flops.  But wear them only while wandering around the confined luxury of your Daddy's box.  And while you're at it, have another mint julep.  You'll forget about your aching feet in no time.

Number 11:  Don't wear the same hat as your BFF unless you're Stella Artois or Dodge Ram girls and you're getting paid to do it.  You look like you're in junior high.

Number 12:  Don't wear cowboy boots with your Derby dress.  While there are occasions where a dress paired with cowboy boots is a total Do, the Derby isn't it.

Number 13:  Don't wear sequins.  It's a horse race not a cocktail party.  (Too slow with my iPhone to get a pic of this one.  You'll just have to trust me.)

Number 14:  Don't store your phone in your bra.  This is not a bar.  And besides, you paid hundreds of dollars to be here.  The least you can do is invest in a little clutch purse.

Number 15:  Don't leave after the running of the Derby.  Again, you paid big bucks to be here.  Stay and watch the last two races.  It's going to be an hour's wait for taxis or the shuttle bus anyway.  You might as well take advantage of the cleared-out betting lines and hang around.

Number 16:  Don't wear a statement necklace to the Derby.  Your hat is your statement.  Go with simple pearls.

Okay.  My last three might be controversial, but, hey.  It's my blog.  Deal with it.

Number 17:  Do not wear Vineyard Vines to the Derby if you're a girl.  Don't get me wrong, I live V V and their little whale, but I saw five girls in the same V V dress and many other duplicates.  For guys, there's a lot of V V duplication, too, but it's not as big a deal to them.

Number 18:  Ditto for Lilly Pulitzer.

Number 19:  Don't wear wedges.  I love them, too, but I spent a lot of time people watching and the legs in pumps just looked better.  And, admittedly, less comfortable.  But still.  Pumps look prettier.

And Number 20 is just for the guys from my uber fashionable hubby, Josh:  Don't wear a business suit and power tie to the Derby.  Spring colors for your jacket?  Khaki linen pants?  Bright bow ties?  Even some Madras in moderation?  All acceptable.  But a gray suit and a conservative tie?  Come on.  Have a little pride.

There you go!  My 20 Derby Don'ts.  I'd love you to add your own in comments!  And before I sign off, I'd like to share one Derby Do.  Here it is.

If your Daddy ever calls you up and says, "Hey honey, how about you get us tickets for the Derby this year," DO.  Just do.