Monday, June 6, 2011

Escape From Douchery, Part 5: Red Square

I promised that I'd eventually get around to recommending cool places on The Strip where the air isn't thick with the smell of Axe Body Spray, but thus far I've focused mainly on Downtown Vegas in my inconsistently ongoing escape from douchery series. And while Downtown is going through something of a hipster renaissance these days, when I started an entire blog about how much I love Vegas in the face of snobbish scenesters who think the town is strictly for the same dumb people who make Fast and the Furious movies into hits (okay, I kinda love the Fast and the Furious movies as well), I knew I'd have to eventually deal with the fact that The Strip is Vegas and Vegas is The Strip. To avoid writing about anything on Las Vegas Blvd. would be a mistake born of a fear that the legions of my loyal readers would judge me and I'd immediately lose credibility if I admitted to liking something too lame and corporate in the middle of a street that stands as a metaphor for the runaway capitalistic excess that defines American culture.

But the truth is I do love The Las Vegas Strip. It's huge and flashy and stupid, but sometimes huge and flashy and stupid can be fun, especially if you put down your Noam Chomsky book and just let yourself flow along with the tao of dumb. And even if you want to intellectualize it, I think there is something interesting and deeply metaphorical about the massive fake empires of fakery built along The Strip that says something about America and our culture and values, for better or worse.

No place I can think of embodies that stupidity and excess more boldly and ironically than Red Square at Mandalay Bay. With a massive, headless Lenin statue greeting you at the entrance and kitschy commie propaganda posters lining the walls, this Russian themed vodka bar, lounge and restaurant in the middle of a city that completely symbolizes the runaway excess of capitalist values is a place with its tongue planted firmly in its cheek, a watering hole where irony runs so deep that even the most indie-credible hipsters in Brooklyn and Austin can only bow their heads in awe and respect.

Sure, it glibly flips complicated recent history into a jokey bar theme in a way that may potentially infuriate crusty old KGB loyalists, but the extreme commitment to the theme is what makes Red Square so much fun. You could write a college thesis paper about post-modern culture and the devaluation of historical symbology and the metaphorical irony of a communist Russian themed bar on The Las Vegas Strip, but then you'd just be another grad school jerk who should be writing their thesis on something more important anyway.

Red Square is as well themed as a Disneyland ride, except the theme is an anti-capitalist society in which free thinking was discouraged and you'd never have the freedom to indulge in the kind of excessive reveling that takes place in the bar, which is what makes Red Square simply awesome. Plus, the bar features a great selection of vodkas, all chilled to perfection. So take off your thinking Ushankas and just enjoy the extreme irony of enjoying a drink in a Las Vegas bar decorated with hammer and sickle flags and communist propaganda.

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