The Sin City Busking Experience
Vegas is quite a sight. It is a playground for adults, a paradise for high-roller wannabes, and as far away from reality as you can get. Everywhere you look there is someone trying to sell you something. The word ‘free’ does not mean the same as it does in the rest of the world. We were constantly pulled aside and offered ‘free’ hotel rooms and money for gambling. All we had to do was make a deposit and then within the next year we could book a room and our deposit would be refunded.
We had one guy at the Excalibur offer us two tickets to the Tournament of Kings and all we had to do was give him $50 now and when we came back the next day, he would refund us $30 and we could experience fighting knights and turkey legs for $10 each. Sounds like a great deal, right? Normally I would have probably given into such a deal, but when you literally only have $50 in your pocket to put fuel in two people’s tank and in Clementine’s, the choice becomes clear. The answer was NO, and NO again, and a final NO. Then NO to the next person that asked and so on.
We finally found a solution to the constant requests for people to take our money… We had just parked at the Venetian and with instruments in hand, were heading to the streets to make some bucks. All of a sudden people stopped handing us stripper flyers, people stopped trying to give us their rap cd’s, and people stopped trying to sell us tourist packages. WE CRACKED THE VEGAS CODE MY FRIENDS! We were working street performers in Vegas, and now had visual proof that we had no money. WOOHOO!
We were in Vegas for over a week. Living in the parking lot of The Orleans, which was starting to wear on us. We were starting to scramble looking for a YMCA or a gym that offered a free trial so we could shower, hot tub, and maybe shower again. Showering is probably the greatest feeling on the road ever. Mmmm I could use a shower right now as I write this blog…
We even began to work in a Vegas routine. Coffee and breakfast (likely at Subway), use a little internet, drive to the Venetian and park for the day and try to busk our way outta Sin City. We did manage to do some touristy stuff - we checked out the famous Fremont Street Experience with wide eyes and wonder, toured most of the casinos, watched other buskers at work and even this little man breakdancing…
A week into Vegas, we got a text from Dan’s cousin, Poco. She is a Vegas resident and quite an amazing woman. She invited us to her place for a BBQ. We feasted that night. Ribs, chicken, corn, salad, bread, beer, wine… I remember feeling a little embarrassed about how much we ate, but at the same time it was a home cooked meal, which we hadn’t had since Dan’s parents’ place in Ottawa.
After dinner we shared stories of our trip and Poco talked about her work with the Soroptimist Club. If you have never heard of it before (I hadn’t) you should check it out, it is “A global volunteer organization working to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment.” They have amazing initiatives that support women and girls globally.
After all our chatter, Poco offered up her home to us to shower and to sleep in a bed. We couldn’t resist and actually ended up staying a couple nights with her. Dan and I showered up and I am not kidding you, I was so happy to shower that I was giggling the whole time I was scrubbing the last couple weeks of dirt off.
We had two Farmer’s Markets lined up for the weekend and were excited to meet real Vegas residents. The Saturday morning market was extremely windy and a bit of a kerfuffle to get set up. The wind was so cold that it instantly froze our fingers and made it incredibly difficult to play. We ended up moving spots and got a little sunshine which helped warm the fingers. We played the day away and spent the evening relaxing at Poco’s. We had a fire, watched some t.v., and talked until late into the night.
The next day was Superbowl Sunday (Nice job Seattle!!) and we wondered if anyone would even show up at the market. About 30 minutes into our set a gentleman walked over and introduced himself as a booking agent for Caribbean Cruises. Excited at the idea of playing on a cruise ship for a season, we sent him all the information we could. We finished the markets with enough money to get us to Palm Springs.
Monday morning we packed up the van, took our meager busking funds and hit the road for Palm Springs and to see the Puglia family. On the road again. Can’t believe we survived Vegas, so glad we made the trip, and even happier to leave it behind.
Thanks to everyone we met in Vegas who showed us love and support. Thank you Poco for the wonderful hospitality, the badass, karaokeing Texans, Steve from Alabama with his great stories and great love for music and the musicians who create it, and of course to all the Canadians that passed us and dropped in their colourful money. Thanks for making us feel at home!