New Year’s Eve on the Strip was a night of cascading gridlocks: First the streets to get to the casino; then the line to get into club; then the crowded dance floor; and finally, several hours later, the same thing in reverse. Must be what it’s like to live in California.
I turned the calendar at the Palazzo, and a parking miracle allowed me entry into the casino’s underground garage with three hours to spare before midnight. Like an ascent into heaven, I rose from a traffic nightmare into the celebratory winter wonderland of the hotel lobby.
It’s hard to imagine a casino being more festive than it already is, considering that they are regularly in a state of perma-party. But the Palazzo was. I marveled at what a few helium balloons could do when combined with the energy of tourists in funny hats. (My favorite was a martini-glass tiara.) Smiling at the excited tourists, I felt like a parent enjoying her kids’ elation on Christmas morning.
After a guacamole pit stop at Dos Caminos (the restaurant’s balloons sported countdown numbers), my friend and I arrived at Lavo an hour before midnight. The restaurant portion of Lavo had been cleared to create room for an epic number of revelers, making the upstairs club portion of Lavo feel like a VIP room. And everywhere, the clock ticked down on flat-screen TVs.
With five minutes left of 2010 and my spot on the packed dance floor secured, I tried to think deep thoughts about the changing date. But all I could think was how much my stilettos hurt.
Las Vegas bikini mascot Holly Madison was the celebrity host, which lent the countdown an air of home. She stood above the crowd, looking almost like a mirror ball in her sparkling gold gown. A very curvaceous mirror ball.
The music stopped.
Madison said a few generic words and started the counting at 30 seconds. With the mounting excitement at the 10-second mark, I made … NINE … one last … EIGHT … search … SEVEN … for deep … SIX … thoughts … FIVE … FOUR-THREE-TWO-ONE … HAPPY NEW YEAR! And that’s when I realized that I had no champagne and nobody to kiss. But none of it mattered. I was in that transcendent moment between the death of one year and the birth of another.
Music played, although I can’t remember what song. A wave of dollar bills fluttered from the ceiling and the strobe lights captured, then released them in stop-motion. A snowfall of soap foam followed the dollar bills, forming a kaleidoscope of colors in the lights of the club. Finally, the crowd eased up and the world started again.