Compared to New Orleans, Vegas touts its hedonism loudly – “Come and do shots as you throw a seven at the craps table and walk off into the night, pockets bulging with banknotes, legions of exotic strangers vying to be invited back to your hotel room,” it says, waving at you while wearing a weird shiny suit and gesturing suggestively with matchplay casino chips.
But in this city, the fast living involves every choice being to some extent choreographed, tightly controlled and charged to your room at buttock-clenchingly high prices. The experience – as exhilarating as it may be in parts – is a generic one (this trip is partly about getting away from that). It’s a prescribed Las Vegas Experience, queue on the right to buy tickets and yes, that’ll be 19 dollars for your frozen margarita, don’t touch anything and thanks for playing.
If Las Vegas is a theme park of indulgence, New Orleans is more like a national park, where hedonism can be seen in its natural habitat, gratification is allowed to develop organically, extravagance enjoys a healthy conservation programme and eccentricity is not an endangered species. You know...Free Range hedonism.
That said, some of the prescribed experiences are pretty damn impressive. Last night I shared a liquid nitrogen cocktail before going to see Cirque du Soleil's LOVE at The Mirage, which is the most emotionally charged circus show I've ever seen. Just beautiful and mind-bafflingly complicated but at the centre there's just a dumb clown trying to give someone a bunch of flowers. Immense. Vegas, you do generic hedonism incredibly well.