A Vegas holiday has never been on my bucket list. I have always thought it’s not my kind of place and now I know I was right. However, that was the destination of my last family holiday and I admit I was curious about it. Plus, that’s the city of The Killers, I wasn’t about to miss that.
What to say about Las Vegas? Must be more fun if you’re a millionaire. However, it is dazzling with its hotels and its neon lights, a mirage in a desert, a city of blatant hedonism and consumerism. All the time I wandered in casinos and malls I couldn’t help but feel somehow guilty and came back with a stronger will to stop buying clothes and anything I don’t really need. So I guess it was good. Of course, the city has some cool things, like awesome antique shops and bookshops dedicated to rare and first editions… and the Neon Boneyard.
The Neon Boneyard is part of The Neon Museum, an organization dedicated to preserving the history of neon signs in Las Vegas. The Boneyard is basically a ditch full of old neon lights and neon signs, some of them from legendary hotels and casinos, some of them famous because of Hollywood movies.
When I was walking through the place I could not help but think about a book we read at uni, The Future of Nostalgia by Svetlana Boym. Perhaps the surge of places like these has to do with our current obsession with everything vintage. People came here to observe the vestiges of a golden era, the rusty remnants of the American dream, and of course because it’s incredibly aesthetic: all these giant signs displaced, covered in dust under the desert sun; there’s something definitely eerie about them, it’s like visiting a ghost town.
In her book, Svetlana Boym says that “contemporary nostalgia is not so much about the past as about vanishing the present”. It is indeed comforting to look at these metallic giants and think of a time where the stood tall, illuminating the cities for years and years. They’re real, so much that they have bones and structures, as opposed to our digital culture in which everything comes and goes in a flicker.
I very much enjoyed walking around the Neon Boneyard. To get in you just buy your tickets online and choose a time between 9am and 8pm. I chose 7pm to be there at sunset and see the neon signs in both day and night. It did not disappoint, they’re somehow mesmerizing. Although I think it’s a bit overpriced for the size of the place, the visit was one of the highlights of my visit to Las Vegas.
Have you been to Las Vegas? What did you think of it?