Last updated: 03:00 AM ET, Wed September 02 2015

Dispatch: Reinvention Is What Defines Sin City

Destination & Tourism | Rich Thomaselli | September 02, 2015

Dispatch: Reinvention Is What Defines Sin City

New York will always be home and always be the greatest city in the world.

But Las Vegas is my kind of town, to paraphrase a fairly famous singer, who might have been crooning about Chicago at the time but who certainly made his name here and helped put Vegas on the map.

What I love best about Las Vegas, however, is its ability to constantly reinvent itself.

Remember, this started as a gambling town – for decades the only gambling town in the country where you could legally place a wager, until New Jersey officials approved gambling in Atlantic City in the 1970s. Las Vegas was a kind of nirvana, a destination that people aspired to come to and gamble until dawn, try to make a fortune, ogle sexy cocktail waitresses and showgirls, maybe see The Rat Pack or a big fight.

Now? The allure has worn off for gambling. There’s a casino in suburban New York City less than an hour from my house; another has been approved in the Catskills that’s 40 minutes from where I live.

So what did Vegas do? Reinvent itself. Fifteen years ago you waited until a headline performer passed through your town, hoping that maybe enough interest would cause promoters to add another show or two. So Vegas invented the concept of the residency, luring performers like Celine Dion, Elton John, Shania Twain and Britney Spears to play three and four nights a week.

Come January, Jennifer Lopez – arguably one of the world’s three or four biggest stars – begins a residency in Vegas.

This used to be a town of self-produced little in-house shows that got stale in a hurry. So what did Vegas do? Well, there’s one of several Cirque du Soleil shows right here in my hotel, and a legit Broadway production of Jersey Boys within walking distance.

There was a time when Vegas had difficulty drawing a younger demographic, and when it did it required a trip to the hotel concierge to ask how to get to the hottest dance club in town – a term I use loosely. So what did Vegas do?

Well, let’s put it this way. If you have to even ask where the hottest clubs are, they’re probably not for you. But in any event, the concierge wouldn’t be giving you directions unless to say go down the hall and turn right. That’s right; the best clubs are right in the hotels.

And give Vegas credit for recognizing – early – the trend of DJs becoming club superstars. You can’t pass a marquee in Vegas these days without seeing names like Calvin Harris, Deadmau5, Diplo and more.

And we haven’t even touched on the shopping, the new center-city area, nor the food scene.

This is why Vegas thrives.

This is why Vegas will set a new record for visitors this year.

This is why Las Vegas is my kind of town. 

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