AS the title states, there is a reason why this blog entry doesn’t have any photos; one very large, flashy, shiny reason with lots of bright lights, loud sounds and dazzling distractions. Inspiration for several movie themes, benefactor of many an out-of-luck punter’s back pocket, home of ‘1800-babes-to-you’ and last known location of Scottie; Sin City, the City of Lights or as the United States government calls it, Las Vegas is one of the biggest distractions known to man. Las Vegas may inspire the budding photographer with it’s allure and sex appeal, resulting in the most dynamic work of his or her artistic career. Or, as many more would experience, it may lull one into a false sense of security with passive aggressively enforced intoxication and free gambling credits before stripping the unwary artist of all his or her young ideals, quickly diminishing the importance of documenting their fantastic stay in the City of Lights. With each passing minute inside one of the neon lit, smoke filled hotel/casino foyers the grip of Las Vegas tightens, each movement of the perpetually invisible clock hand draws one further into a dizzying maze of pokies, black jack and show girls. As the maze thickens, left and right become one and up and down become unreconisable, navigating the maze is futile and time passes differently from the outside world that one can vaguely recall as a tangible, physical space consisting of laws and walls and ceilings, different from the maze which is only defined by lights and sounds and other sensory experiences.
There is no end to the maze. The maze exists at ALL times, it never stops, it never slows down. If you manage to find your hotel room you can escape for a time, however Sin City will find a way – any way to lure you back to the maze. Despite traveling to Las Vegas to participate in roller derby and other roller skating activities, many attendees of Rollercon 2015 went astray and were unfortunately lost in the maze. Schedules and plans highlighted in the program guide were set adrift amidst the current of people, vendors, classes and bouts. To fight the current at Rollercon is to paddle upstream; with consistent effort and energy your boat will make progress, but miss a beat and you will quickly find yourself without a paddle, turned around and floating down a fork in the river you just passed. Sage advice to a new comer is to not fight the current, but to giddily embrace the Rollercon experience, following the unknown and enjoying the ride. Stop here and talk to this person, realize you are late for a game, run to the tracks and then have an old friend grab your arm and sign you up for two more games which may or may not require clothing. Party at the pool all night then wait in line at 6 AM to sign up for a class after which proceeding to pig out at a breakfast buffet and forget all about the class because you get talking to the chefs. Wait in a merchandise line for 30 minutes, get close to the front of the line and get distracted by a shiny something being demonstrated nearby and leave the line still holding the item you haven’t yet paid for.
Focus and attention span are in short supply at Rollercon, but are traded in most favorable terms for fun and excitement. The days pass at a supernatural speed, only 5 minutes ago you were skating on the banked track but now it’s 3 AM and who gave you that slice of muesli? Was it the man with the shoe box strapped to his groin? You certainly hope is wasn’t him, but who knows what’s inside that box! A 3 hour death like sleep later and you’re watching a game because you can’t talk from the night before and wait, there’s muesli again, where did that come from? Cheers erupt from the audience as 40 near naked men roll out onto the track and start humping each other, or are they playing roller derby? Who knows! Put some skates on, take them off again to walk 20 feet, put them back on, take your card to the scrimmage check in station wait in line for 20 minutes for one jam then take your skates off again to walk to the toilet. Someone shouts your name then you are writing numbers on a shirt a stranger threw at you. 3 AM again, wait, when did the tracks close for the night and why is everyone nearly naked again? Someone says something about pasties and suddenly a feminist rally is usurping the hotel authorities. Was it actually a feminist rally, or was that just the choo choo train dance around the pool? Inside an elevator and the commercial for Jennifer Romas’ hit new show Sexxxxy tells you to “leave your inhibitions at the door”. Thankfully you didn’t have time to think about inhibitions because you were too busy skating otherwise there might be some costly therapeutic bills when you return home.
Quick! Wake up! It’s Sunday and you have three bouts scheduled today and you HAVE to be there! Skate, sleep, skate, buffet, done. Rollercon 2015 is over, the fastest five days ever recorded by man and the entire event has been photographically documented; the only thing is that all the photos are saved on other people’s camera and strangely none on your own. It’s as if there is a five day Bermuda Triangle dead zone on your phone memory, the date has changed but there is no proof those days actually passed. Surely you took a photo of that cool track laying machine called Track-a-Saurus, and didn’t you creep behind Quadzilla and take a selfie? Not according to your phone you didn’t! You ask yourself, did all this actually happen or is this an elaborate hoax the writer of Inception has set you up in. The one piece of evidence you have are the vendor stickers you keep finding in different pockets for the weeks to come.
Everyone keeps saying the ‘Strip’ is the bees knees, go check it out because there’s lots of cool stuff to see there. It’s Monday, Rollercon is over and hotel rooms are inexpensive so why not stay another night to go see the strip? Sounds like a nice way to recover from a crazy week and behave like a tourist and not a deranged monkey who has just discovered the button that adds new friends on Facebook. People actually skate the Las Vegas strip, which is amazing as it’s very difficult to simply walk down it. Pressed in by hundreds of tourists, it is necessary to once more drift with the current; stop to watch the racist comedy-acrobatics street performance, to quote; “We joke about racism because racism is a joke. On Earth we are all one race, the human race… Except for the Mexicans.” The acrobats back flip over four people and the performance ends, the footpath continues but suddenly and without any alternate routes turns into an escalator that leads into a mall. Browse the shops, walk out of the mall and discover the Eiffel Tower! You’re still in Las Vegas, but your eyes do not deceive you because right over there is a huge Roman statue providing you with a welcoming salute to Caesar’s Palace. A photo of this is a must because it’s pretty great, but look at what’s over there; a volcano that’s about to erupt, listen, the birds just went quiet! Thousands flock on the street to watch the twice nightly demonstration of a real life, active casino volcano; flames roar into the sky and rise in crescendo with the audio effects, a photo of this would also be really great because how often do you see a real life active casino volcano? Instead your jaw hangs open catching flies like a fool and the show is over and done for the night. Walk further down the street, dodge people selling toys, food and drinks and try to get a peek at whatever it is all those people are gathering around. There’s a big lake outside a grand hotel, it’s pretty cool but why are there so many people standing around? Then BOOM, music erupts and about 80 fountains of water shoot 30 odd foot in the air. The water rises and falls in time with the music in a truly spectacular display of technological synchronization, the vibrations in the bass snap you out of the stupor you’ve been in for days and suddenly you have the presence of mind to pull out your phone to film the inspiring event, which you later find out happens every 15 minutes and the Las Vegas locals don’t even notice.
My first visit to Las Vegas and Rollercon were outstanding, it is a brilliant event located in a crazy city that has so much to offer. The event itself has an excellent atmosphere, nearly everyone there is really nice, they look forward to it all year and are just stoked to be there. The city feels very safe to walk through even though the whole system is designed to take your money, we did a very very modest amount of gambling, although I’m sad to say I didn’t play the Ellen DeGeneres electronic slot machine. Bring on Rollercon 2016!