Do You Speak Vegas?

A practical guide to the Sin City lexicon

Remember when you grew up in your relatively normal town before you came to the City of Delectable Sin? Remember when the word “industry” didn’t exist in your lexicon, apart from when you were referring to building ships or cars? Words like “shift,” “section” and “line” all had slightly less dramatic clout before you moved to Vegas. Words had their customary meaning rather than some bastardized definition used within the walls of gargantuan entertainment banks with an endless capacity for deposits you will never see again. Las Vegas, you now well know, changes everything, including the English language. A night out, for instance, requires a dictionary all its own. Never fear: We’re here to help.


It all starts with choosing the right “venue,” which used to mean where the “band” was playing—but not anymore. The number of options available in Vegas is verging on the ridiculous. From the new and shiny Marquee, to the classic (still mythical to many) Ghostbar, the places just seem to multiply like Gremlins in water every single week. But where will it be tonight? Only you can decide—or maybe you could do with a little ‘industry’ knowledge. Cue our “hosts” …


What did “host” mean to you before you came to the Neon Desert? Maybe it fit with hosting a party, or maybe a host at a restaurant? Perhaps the word fits some alien form hosting yet another Sigourney Weaver-terrorizing organism? Or even a wacky radio host, who’s just so zany we can barely control our laughter. But “host” in Vegas? Well, settle back, folks, because these behemoths of cool, suave and sophistication will blow you away. If you thought being led to a table was something that was unnecessary, perhaps something you could achieve on your own, how unbelievably wrong you were. You have to have the swagger, the slow roll, the knowing nods, and of course the crisp suit of success. These characters are absolutely fundamental to the successful running of a multimillion-dollar business. Just ask them.


If you have never found yourself in a conversation with a cocktail waitress who has been reassigned her “section” in a “venue,” then you do not know the vitriol fashioned by moving perhaps 20 feet to do the same job you had before. But don’t be so quick to judge. Those 20 feet can potentially cost these women thousands of dollars a year, which in itself is absolutely insane when you think about it. Can you imagine working in a cubicle (let’s say a Zappos one, where you’ll smile all day long and never even understand what unhappiness is), and you’re making $50,000 a year, and someone moves you to another cubicle in the same office, and overnight you go down to $20,000? Nobody is loving that scenario. How are sections assigned, anyway? Hmmm.

Table & Bottle

What’s next? Oh yes, the “table.” What is a table? Essentially the table is the object on which we place our meals. And of course, a “bottle” must accompany the table. You go out, and rather than just getting to the venue to have a lovely time wandering around in a drunken stupor (I’m a traditionalist) you have to ensure you are sitting in the “right” place, drinking the “right” drink and laughing at the “right” jokes. And, sweet lord almighty, will it cost you a fortune. For the rest of my life, the words table and bottle will never be the same.


Remember when this used to mean going back to someone’s house and drinking awful tequila until about 4 a.m.? Think again, you Vegas novice. Now this means a party that might just eclipse the “real” party you just attended. Tiësto might just turn up and do a set. The cast of Cirque might do an impromptu show. You really never know.


This is not for the timid. For this “party,” you need the heart of a lion and the constitution of a Philadelphia construction worker. This event could take place in a dingy hotel room or the alley just outside it, in an abandoned car or a disused boat. The likelihood is you’ll be with about 10 or so people who look like they could kill you, and they just might. Proceed with caution.


So when does this transcendent night out take place? The weekend, right? Wrong again. “Today is my Friday” is the ultimate Vegas industry phrase. I must have heard it a thousand times. For many Las Vegans, the weekend simply doesn’t exist. Or, rather, it always exists. Everybody has a different Friday, and how wonderful that can be.

• • •

Perverse and idiosyncratic as it may be, I love my new lexicon. Las Vegas needs its own language, because it has a culture and a lifestyle that simply doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world (relax, New York, you’re still an eclectic paradise, we get it). Recently, I was visiting a friend in Flagstaff, Ariz., and upon him telling me where we were going that evening (a delightful little lounge), I actually had to catch myself from asking whether we had a “table.” If I had finished that sentence, he would have had full license to punch me squarely in the face. Still, standing up all night while we were out was a little annoying.

Congratulations, Vegas, you’ve spoiled me to a level that is incomprehensible. Kudos, Sin City, kudos.

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