One week ago today I flew out to Las Vegas for a work conference ACPA. Who knew that a world without clocks (in the casinos) could cause my shut out from television, and movies, but my experience was an interesting one. Vegas is an interesting city from the people slapping coupons at you, the extra oxygen in the casinos to keep people awake, smoking in public, girls dancing on tables, and of course shows and gambling. Vegas is an interesting place to have a conference for the joint effort of the higher education organization ACPA, and campus recreation group NIRSA which focused on wellness.
The goal for visit was to go to Vegas to help further my education with my position as a Residence Hall Director, and among the distractions of Vegas I was able to pick up some interesting ideas. Even though the conference was in a city that does not focus on wellness, I was able to take the exact opposite away. In my job, and the field of student affairs many people do not focus on wellness and this conference was a wake up call for a partnership for rec sports and wellness and I am going to approach people about an initiative at my school.
Social Justice was also a focus and opening speaker was MSNBC anchor and Tulane faculty member Melissa Harris Perry. Perry did a fantastic job with her opening speech citing the different levels in which the different isms and bias are perpetuated, I was also able to see closing speaker B.D. Wong from Law and Order: Special Victim's Unit and Oz; he was also solid, and hilarious talking about his own intersecting identities (a new term to him) and how his childhood developed how this shaped his personality.
I was there for the conference, but of course I had to explore the strip! I was able to ride the roller coaster in NY, NY, and while in the lobby of Cesar's Palace I got flashes of Zac Galifianakis asking if this was the real Cesar's Palace, and asking if their was pager service in The Hangover. While riding in my elevator at the Paris Hotel I was plagued with noise of the stage musical Jersey Boys, Frankie Valley I am sorry I do not get it! While in Planet Hollywood at a bar I met Coco from the television series Ice Loves Coco. All of these things came together proving Vegas to be one of the most interesting places connected to popular culture.
As stated above it's interesting that a conference about education and wellness were held in Las Vegas, with popular culture framing the city (and many of the visitors) as a beacon of crazy adventurous drinking and partying. From The Hangover to Casino, Vegas may be portrayed as "fun" but is always given more of a negative tone with intense situations, drugs, and gambling, and crime. Bad is obviously in the eye of the beholder, and while Vegas is nowhere near close to being one of my favorite cities, I had a lot of fun with friends, colleagues, and learned a lot from this experience with this conference. The city is an interesting place, with some of the largest, and coolest hotels. There is a lot to do, and its no wonder Hollywood has found ways to tell the story of this town.
This town has a story, and its an interesting one, and helped guide some interesting and hilarious conversations throughout my conference/vacation experience. I am excited to take the things I learned from my conference and bring them back to work and I will break the cliche phrase what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.