Las Vegas is a special place that mostly sees people coming to town to party, take advantage of some shows, and even lose a little bit of money. But believe it or not, there are people who live here -- like, actually live here, and aren’t just here to party a lot. If there’s one thing out-of-towners are more fascinated by than the ability to drink openly in the streets 24/7, it’s the concept of people who call Sin City “home.” And boy oh boy does that come with a lot of dumb questions. Here they are, for your reference, so you can never ask them again.
"OH MY GOD, you live in Las Vegas???"
Yes. And I can actually hear the all caps and multiple question marks in your voice. Stop.
"So what's it like to live in Las Vegas?"
Like everything and nothing you would expect it to be. This is the most bizarre city in the world to call home. There are the casinos, and the casinos, and the casinos, and the casinos, and then... California? It’s a 24-hour-party kind of town, and you'd best believe that when you live here, you do get caught up in that culture (often whether you want to or not). But that aside, there are also the mountains and the active outdoor lifestyles they inspire -- hiking, climbing, canyoneering, rappelling, cycling, mountain biking, etc. -- that are a far cry from the Friday night Fremont freak show and tourists in matching Hangover shirts with yard drinks in their hands, high-fiving everyone they pass with vocabularies reduced to "WOOO."
Simply put: living in Las Vegas is a practice in having a dual identity.
"So, do you live on the Strip?"
Well, no. Well, yes. But not on the Strip you're referring to. I live just off of Las Vegas Boulevard, about four miles south of where "The Strip" begins at Mandalay Bay. The most interesting things in the vicinity of my complex are 24-hour locals bars, an off-brand car rental agency, and gas stations that accommodate semis. "The Strip," it ain't.
Most people here live in the suburbs, because living on Las Vegas Boulevard (even four miles south of the start of The Strip) is terrible. Why? Because four miles is not enough space to put between you and all of the tourists, drunks, and drunk tourists joyriding down the damn Strip.
"Does everyone you know work on the Strip?"
A whole lot of them do. Hospitality is our main industry and it lives on the Strip. But people here have normal, boring jobs, too. It's not all VIP clubs and porn stars and crime scene investigations, you know.
"Have you seen all of the Cirque shows?"
All of them? No. A lot of them... yeah. But I work in media, so these things are free. Actually, everything is free when you live here. Even if you don’t have connections yourself, you know people who do. Free parties, free booze, free VIP club entry, free shows, free meals, free blah blah blah. It all gets pretty old pretty quick, unless you're one of those super bougie status-hungry types who get off on it (of which there are many, and they all work in PR and marketing, and they will all, incidentally, hound you for coverage by plying you with promises of free booze or something like that).
That, friends, is called the Vegas circle of life.
"Have you been to all the clubs?"
I'm 34 years old. No.
"Have you seen [whatever random Vegas movie they're trying desperately to recreate on their next trip]?"
Yes, that's actually required viewing if you want to pass your Las Vegas citizenship test. We consider it to be more of a documentary feature.
"If I lived in Las Vegas, I would lose all my money from gambling all the time!"
As a matter of fact, people have done that, and now they're in Gamblers Anonymous... and are also maybe living in the wrong city. Point is: to live here without creating a lot of problems for yourself, you really need to be able to exert some self-control and resist the temptations of Sin City. Or you can decide to go all-in, because you're an adult and there's no judgment here. Just know that going "all-in" is intensely literal.
"So do you just always hang out on The Strip?"
Oh dear God, no! Most locals who don't work on the Strip avoid it like the seven seals of the apocalypse... or Donald Trump rallies. Every time I have to go on the Strip -- and I mean have to (and I mean am being forced to) -- I dread it for days beforehand, and intensely dread it all day leading up to it, and try to devise ways to avoid it. But then I suck it up and do it, then rattle off a series of "f*cks" like there is a worldwide allotment about to run out as I try to find parking in the city-sized garages. Then I'll bitch about the 30 minutes of my life I lost between parking and walking from the garage through the casino to whatever the hell overpriced, mediocre restaurant or bar or nightclub I'm being dragged to. Then I'll bitch about the $20 I'm spending on each crappy drink with unspecified service charges and automatic gratuity tacked on to each one, and then about all of the terrible tourists and chicks doing the Vegas Girl Walk.
After all that, I’ll leave early to try and beat the insanity of the post-club parking garages and late night on Las Vegas Boulevard. But then I'll get stuck in the insanity and not get home until after 4am. Then I'll sleep until noon and spend the whole next day angry over the fact that I lost a day of my life because of the stupid Strip. After I'm done, I'll try mightily to avoid doing it again for at least six months until the next person I haven't seen in five years rolls into town insisting we simply "must" hang out. Repeat.
"Do you have any hook-ups?"
For... hotels? Clubs? Concerts? Restaurants? Fights? Cirque shows? Drugs? Dudes or chicks? The short answer is yes. For me, not for you, person I haven't hung out with once since college. I'm actually not even sure who you are, to be honest.
"I'll be in town for three days. Where should I eat?"
#LetMeGoogleThatForYou. Are you kidding me? You have the Internet. My Yelp is the same as yours, I promise you. The truth is: by the time I get done asking you where you're staying, whether or not you're renting a car, whether or not you're willing to pay exorbitant prices for taxis and Uber rides, whether you prefer to stay on the Strip or go exploring, whether you're down with Downtown, how much you're willing to spend, how many people you're in town with, how much they're willing to spend, how many of you have some pain-in-the-ass dietary restriction (because one of you inevitably will), whether you like Mexican or Italian or French or Japanese or Spanish or contemporary American, whether you're trying to be fancy or divey, whether if when you say you want to "experience Vegas like a local" you actually mean it (in which case, see you at PT's!) or if you mean it in that touristy sense of "localism," and so on and so on to even TRY to make some remotely relevant recommendations, you could have just done it your damn self.
Please understand how much time and energy goes into creating customized itineraries for every individual person who should happen to blow into town. There's a reason people charge for this sort of service. Also, I write listicles for a living. Kindly refer to one of those.
"Do people there work out, like, ALL the time?"
Yes. Also, the gym often feels like a nightclub, right down to the douchey DJ mixes and altogether too-well-thought-out outfits.
"It must be hot there in the summer!"
It is! It's hot AF!
"But it's a dry heat though... "
Says someone who has never experienced the infernal furnace blast of 120-degree "dry heat" in the middle of a Las Vegas summer.
(But I'd definitely still take this over Texas or Florida, where it gets into the hundreds with suffocating humidity. I know when I'm #blessed.)
"What's your favorite thing about living in Las Vegas?"
It's 75 degrees and sunny through much of the winter, and in the amount of time it would take me to drive to the Caesars parking garage and find an empty spot to park, I can already be out hiking in the mountains. That's pretty cool.
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Nicole Rupersburg lives in Las Vegas and it is exactly how it sounds. She’s hoping to never answer any of these questions ever again, but knows that’s not how people work. Follow her on IG @eatsdrinksandleaves, where the only photos of the Strip are taken from peaks a few thousand feet above it.