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October 26, 2014

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Columnist Tom Gorman: On his first experience with clubbing at Tangerine, where the booze flows not so freely and music assaults the ears

Tom Gorman's column runs Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at [email protected] or at (702) 259-2310.

I had my first Vegas nightclub experience last week, and now I understand what a marvelous, fantasy world it is.

A nightclub is so loud, with chest-rumbling music pouring out of big, ceiling-mounted speakers, you can say whatever you want to anyone you want without fear of retribution (such as a face slap), because you can't be heard. You can say something to a beautiful woman like, "You are wearing way too much cologne and your lipstick is smeared," and the other person will nod and smile, pretending to hear you, and maybe even take your hand.

Conversely, the person speaking to you also can't be heard. This allows for a fantasy conversation because you can insert a dialogue of your own creation, such as, "Tom, you look great in those Dockers from Mervyns, and I admire you for not using product on your gray hair."

The word for this social exercise is "clubbing," as in, "I went clubbing last night."

My inaugural clubbing experience took me to Tangerine, the nightclub at Treasure Island. I went on "locals night," meaning everyone with a local ID got in for free. Tangerine opened at 10 p.m., was congested by 11 and packed solid by midnight.

By clubbing standards, Tangerine seems hot. People were drinking lots of alcohol from plastic cups (at $10 or so a pop). The music inside was nothing you could hum to. Outside, on a heated patio that overlooks Buccaneer Bay and which was bathed in tangerine light, they play something called "house music."

At my house, "house music" means oldies, standards and easy listening. The house music at Tangerine was something less definable, and was accompanied by some guy banging on a huge set of bongos.

For perspective, please understand that my idea of a nice evening out with friends is to settle down in a comfortable chair in a quiet lounge warmed by a crackling fire, sipping a Scotch-and-Drambuie while listening to soft piano or guitar.

At Tangerine, the scene is more like this:

Around the perimeter of the room, private tables are reserved for VIPs who shell out $300 or more for a bottle of booze, ice and mixers. I didn't see any bowls of pretzels, peanuts or Chex mix so you may want to sneak in your own.

The hoi polloi stand in the middle of the room, people-watching and making alleged conversation as the music blasts forth. Clubbers sort of dance, by gently gyrating their shoulders, arms and hips while mostly standing in place because there is no room to move. They may touch one another, either by choice or by accident (I couldn't tell which).

Every hour or so, a beautiful young lady performs a slow, burlesque strip-tease on a small stage between the sunken bar and a large wall of pulsating lights. She is accompanied by a three-piece jazz band playing the likes of "Hey Big Spender."

To move through the crowd is to wedge yourself between couples who pretend to be in conversation but, of course, are not. You brush up against all sorts of bodies, so you decide which way to face: toward the men or toward the women, as you wiggle your way through. Depending on who surrounds you, you may choose to wiggle slower to enjoy the moment, or move faster.

On the porch, I tried to chat up a couple of fine-looking gentlemen from Australia. I asked them if it was hard to meet equally attractive women. "No," Jeremiah shouted, an inch from my ear. "All we have to do is walk up to the bar and say, 'G'day.' "

I asked them how their clubbing experience was going in Las Vegas, and this was as much as I could hear of his response:

"I can't (something something) until after midnight when (something something something) really (something). (Something) and Long (something) ice teas. It's like a dream (something something) that you've never (something) before. (Something something something) unless (something). Great atmosphere, though, and in Las Vegas, every (something something something). Unbelievable!"

What I took out of that conversation was that Jeremiah and his buddy, Bjorn, were having a lot more fun clubbing than was I. As it should be. At my age, I (something something something something) and go to bed.

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