Recently, I took my first trip to Las Vegas. As a “Vegas Virgin,” I was not sure what to expect. My only impression of “Sin City” was from hearing about the escapades of others, as well as movies and TV shows. Its easy to get caught up in the fast paced, glamorous lifestyle that is heavily touted, but there is another side to the strip if you take notice. Vegas has capitalized on individuals with their own sense of style, yearning to be different (or sometimes fit in).
Among all the glamor and glitz, shopping, dining and gambling, the one thing I observed that seems to make it such a success are the themes. Each hotel/casino you enter has a specific motif that encompasses the overall brand. I knew that the strip had gone through many changes in the past, but it seems that the recent years’ obsession with the town may have come about with the commitment to these themes, and the ability of older casinos to adapt and reinvent themselves.
The history of the city is quite interesting and, thanks to my husband, who knows these details, I was able to see the city in a different light. As with most consumer cultures these days, marketing and advertising plays a massive role in the Vegas lure. Themes, however, are a less obvious marketing tactic that draw people in. Up until the late 60’s, casinos were ambiguous. Caesar’s Palace was the first casino to open with a Roman/Greek theme, which gave it a luxurious feeling. During the 80’s the trend grew – now more and more casinos have opened with themes – New York New York, Luxor, Venetian, Treasure Island, Mirage, and Hard Rock to name a few.
The brilliance of this, is that each person can easily relate to these themes and find themselves in a distant land that they would otherwise never be able to visit. Just as we, as humans, tend to have social identities for ourselves – rocker, hippie, socialite, renegade, romantic, even the anti-identity becomes a theme. Metro’s would be drawn the Cosmopolitan, where hipsters would gravitate to Hard Rock. The newest casinos, Wynn and Encore opened and are thought to be moving away from the theme trend, but even in doing so they are invoking an anti-theme lifestyle which, in fact, is a motif itself.
Although I normally am the type to repel commercialism (which of course is rampant in Vegas), I found myself in awe of the innovations. As a designer, I was impressed with the eye-candy and robust style throughout each microcosm. You can easily get lost in exploration, which would explain why people go there to “get away”. Vegas is where you can find a place where you feel as if your lifestyle is coming alive. Or it can be a place to experience different lifestyles and immerse yourself as whoever you feel like being that day. Either way, for the time you spend there, it is easy to forget your day-to-day, and take a break from the “real world.”
Have you been to Vegas? Share your Vegas stories and observations with us below!
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