It was clear last year, but it’s even clearer this year. Viva is an art form of strategy. There’s SO MUCH to do, so much to buy, so much walking, so many people…you really do have to plan it down to a science if you want to get the most out of it. Last year was like a test drive. This year, knowing what I learned from last year, went a LOT better.
First of all we went in a much larger group. Instead of two people, we were about a dozen, spread out over three rooms. This meant that no matter what you wanted to do, there was always someone around who wanted to do it with you. So we got to do a whole lot more of what we personally planned, whether it was clubbing on the strip or checking out a ton of burlesque. Here are some other tips I’ve learned.
-Don’t lose track of the time. Keep serious track of that shit. It gets away from you and then that one-time event is over. And don’t forget to make sure your phone is set to the right time zone! D’oh!
-Travel wearing your largest items, like your crinoline. It’s crazy how much space it takes up in your luggage.
-Bring a camera, or a phone that takes pictures if you’re ghetto. Like me!
-Don’t even bother with pretty shoes unless they’re also the comfiest ones you own. You’ll be miserable. The amount of walking/standing/dancing you do is beyond anything else. The foot pain can get pretty epic. The best is to find ONE pair of super comfy shoes that go with everything from a bathing suit to an evening dress, because then you also save room in your suitcase. I have some leather maryjanes with a modest heel that I couldn’t live without. I packed NO shoes, I just wore those the entire time. No regrets.
-Leave room in your luggage for all the stuff you’ll buy. Making all my crap fit for the trip back home was quite the feat.
-If you can’t stay at the Orleans, try to stay at the Gold Coast, Bill’s Gamblin Hall, or somewhere within short walking distance of these places. There’s a free shuttle to the Orleans every 15 minutes and it beats the crap out of taking the bus or paying for a cab.
-Show up to the car show early. It won’t be as hot, and it makes a hell of a difference when you can quickly get around, take pictures, and get autographs without a big ass crowd in the way. And seriously, if there’s a shop doing a big sale, you’ll want to get there first. I went to the car show on just three hours sleep and nevertheless I’m glad I didn’t sleep in.
-You don’t have to look a certain way by any means, there is no competitive attitude and everybody looks very different (in the same room you might find one girl in glittery evening wear and another in a playsuit). That said, if you have ever wanted to go all the fuck out or experiment, this is the time and place.
-You might decide that sleep is overrated. Bring a flask. Not for alcohol, but for espresso or Redbull.
-Alcohol however, you might decide is not overrated at all. If you want to get drunk on a budget (while eating some super amazing Italian food) go eat at Batista. It was crazy delicious, and your meal comes with unlimited wine. AWESOME wine.
-Once/while getting drunk, drink plenty of water. This goes for all year round.
-If you plan on clothes shopping, it’s best to wear something you can try things on over. Change rooms are very scarce.
-If you decide you like sleeping more than setting your hair, do pincurls. They can last 2-4 days depending on your hair and what you do with them at night. I’m so glad I did them Friday night, because they lasted from 9am car show to 11:30pm burlesque competition easily. My hair still looks pretty good after sleeping on it, the flight, over two and a half hours in the car, and I still have curls on Monday.
-For the love of god bring a sun hat or buy a parasol if you have any plans on going to the car show. It’s the fucking desert.
And now the final tally!
What we did:
-Shopping. So much shopping
-Relaxed by the pool
-Attended a dance class, at which I was a total fail train
-Went to the car show and spent absolutely no time looking at cars. There was just too much great shopping to be had.
-Hung out briefly with Cholita and Micheline a couple times. They’re super sweet.
-Did a ton of people-watching, because absolutely everyone looks incredible.
-Took in a super fun kickoff burlesque show at a pub, a world class burlesque showcase, then burlesque competition
-Took an amazingly efficient and helpful burlesque class by Miss Karla Joy
-Saw La Cholita and the Kreeps. They’re AMAZING. FYI, Cholita broke her leg in a tumble at the burlesque show on Thursday night, and kept on rocking like a trooper despite being in a wheelchair for the rest of the weekend. I fucking love her.
-Said hi to Tempest Storm
-2 vintage cardigans, including one in hot pink cashmere
-3 flower hair clips
-1 little cherry print duffel bag
-1 signed DVD, Modern Pinup Hair and Makeup by Micheline Pitt
-About 11 hours of sleep over 3 nights
-About 2 bottles of wine, and a boot full of strawberry daiquiri
-100% foot pain
-Still feeling sore, achy, and mysteriously bruised
-A tan, no sunburn.
And when I got home, I found this note that had been left for me.