Okay, so I’m browsing the blogosphere and I come across Linda Lou, Live from Las Vegas. I know Linda and I check in with her humorous blogs every now and then, but tonight I was stopped cold. I had found a soul mate. Someone who doesn’t think that Cirque du Soleil represents the ultimate, unsurpassable form of human entertainment in the entire history of the universe.

I started coming out to Las Vegas in 1998 to play poker, and by the time I moved here in 2006, I was coming for two weeks every month. And I can say without hesitation that the number one topic of conversation that I encountered in this town during all those years was the awesomeness of Cirque du Soleil, and the number two topic was how said awesomeness was not to be questioned.

At first, I didn’t know what Cirque was, but then it was explained to me. It sounded like just a bunch of acrobats jumping around to flashy lighting and edgy music, but no, I was told. It’s much more than that. It’s awesome. What a spectacle! You have to see it! Like, I’ve seen Mystere and O four times each. Oh, and Zumanity! So sexy!

I couldn’t put it together in my mind why an acrobat show would affect otherwise rational people in such a way. I mean, hadn’t they ever seen that stuff on Ed Sullivan? (Of course, then I remembered, most of them weren’t around for Ed Sullivan) But I wondered how the whole concept ever got a foothold in Las Vegas to begin with. Then I figured out the probable scenario.

Steve Wynn opens the Mirage in 1989 to great fanfare. He hates traditional Las Vegas entertainment. He wants desperately to break with the Jewish comedian/Italian singer syndrome that had the Las Vegas Strip locked in a choke hold for decades. Realizing that much of his high-end business will be coming from non-English speaking countries (ie, Asia), he searches for a form of entertainment which these people can appreciate (read: where they don’t have to understand English). Siegfried and Roy fit the description, and they become a hit, but then Presto! Along comes Cirque du Soleil and Wynn has reached Nirvana. Just use the same concept of acrobats jumping around over and over again in different shows with different lighting and music, and he’s struck gold!

So, I resisted these shows for years, but like Linda Lou, I was presented with the chance to see Love at no cost. Ooh, this one’s different, the Cirquers all said.  You’ll love it! This one is the Beatles! And it’s just…it’s just so different!

The Love sound system, which was the greatest I’ve ever heard, was truly the star of the show. But basically, it was what I had feared:  acrobats jumping around and flying through the air to Beatles music and flashy lighting. The live presentation drew absolutely no connection whatever to the Fab Four, despite their very left-handed, European attempts to do so. I’m quite sure the upcoming Viva Elvis show will be more of the same.

I know that, as Las Vegans, we’re all supposed to genuflect at Cirque’s altar, spending $150 each time out. We’re supposed to bring all of our out-of-town friends there, and then we must dutifully spread the gospel of how we very nearly saw God at the Ka show, or how our lives were totally, awesomely nourished and renewed at O. But like Linda, I just don’t get it.

Sorry, everybody.

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  1. But how’s the Cirque du Buffet?

    Har, har, I kill myself.

    I’ve been to Vegas 3 or 4 times, haven’t ever seen a single “big” show. Just can’t imagine the $$ -to- awesomeness can possibly balance out. But I’m a cheap bastard too when it comes to that kind of thing.

  2. “…genuflect at Cirque’s altar…” BAH-HA-ha! Well put. The emperor is naked, we say!

  3. Brian Quinn

    The ‘Viva Elvis’ production will be the most successful to date. Elvis personified Las Vegas and his fans will travel from all over the world just to see this show. Apparently the sound system is the best ever.

  4. I’m sure it will be a huge success, Brian, just like “Love” is a huge success with Beatle fans traveling from all over to see it at $250 a ticket. You’re right when you say that Elvis personified Las Vegas, but I can assure you “Viva Elvis” will NOT personify Elvis. I fear it will merely be acrobats jumping around to Elvis music pumped through a killer sound systerm. As I said in my post, I’m in a distinct minority here.

  5. $250 a ticket? Boy, Vegas has changed (for the worse). Been there many times going back to the mid-80’s. Was even married there once.

    Last time was a few years back and it was hard to deal with. We went to sleep no later than 10:00 p.m. Prices were insane and since I’d quit gambling a long time ago, the atmosphere was cost prohibitive. The food was great but it just wasn’t the Vegas I remember from 25 years ago.

  6. Your observation that the value is gone from Las Vegas is right on, Charlie. In fact, as I write this, they are entirely rethinking the Las Vegas business model, realizing that high-end customers alone will not do the trick. Cirque du Soleil is just the tip of this iceberg.

    The nicest hotels in town (Wynn Las Vegas, Venetian, Bellagio) have slashed their room rates beyond the point where they can make a profit off them. I know someone who got a room at Wynn not long ago for $99/night. Now, to put that into perspective, when that hotel opened in 2005, they bragged that their cheapest room was something like $279, and their average rate was around $399. PER NIGHT! In a 3000-room hotel!

    City Center just opened up after a 5-year construction period. It’s a new montage of hotels and condos. The hotels are priced clear out of sight, and the condos are mostly unsold. I walked through the casino the other day and didn’t dare stop for a drink, because I didn’t have any Krugerrands to pay for it. In one of their high-end shops, you can buy a men’s suit for a mere $15,000.

    The recession has brought them back to earth, and within the next few years, you’re going to see value returning to Las Vegas.

  7. I was at Ceasars while the Venetian was going up with wife #3 and based my 3rd book on some of the changes there (charlie opera). Last time we stayed at the Signature behind the MGM … I was playing the horses (a true sign of a moron–flying to Vegas to bet at Aqueduct) and didn’t want to wait for a waitress to come by with coffee (they were sparse to say the least) … it cost me $2.14 for a cup of Joe. I nearly lost it. I stopped playing and went for a cigar (which cost me another $15.00). Forgetaboutit … nothing like what it used to be … I’ll say this for the boys that used to run it, the players were treated a lot better back then than they are now …

    Glad I got over it …

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