Is Vegas lost in time?

Everyone knows that in Las Vegas, time doesn’t exist: there are no clocks at all in casinos, and the sun stands still in the sky if a well-connected pit boss says so. I don’t think anyone takes it to that extreme, but the clock thing is pretty tired. But I’m not tired of talking about Las Vegas in time, as you can read in this RJ article:

Las Vegas always has had an uneasy, at times adversarial, relationship with time. We’ve blurred the line between night and day, subsist in an economy in which many workers never have a work “day” per se, and even today do all we can to make free-spending tourists forget whatever the clock might say.

It’s all so … unnatural. And, notes Anthony Curtis, founder of Huntington Press and publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor, pretty much par for the course.
“The very first thing Las Vegas is trying to do to its customers is unnatural, which is to get them to part with their money,” he explains.

So, given that, what’s a little deliberate chronological confusion among friends? Dr. Charles McPherson, director of the Regional Center for Sleep Disorders at Sunrise Hospital, says even his own perception of time has been altered for having lived here for about 18 years.

“When you travel to another city and want to go to dinner, and it’s 9:30 at night and you go to a restaurant and they say, ‘We’re closing,’ you get kind of upset — like, ‘Why are you closing?’ ” McPherson says.

Matthew White, an associate professor of business and public policy at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, notes that Las Vegas’ heavy reliance on tourism and travel does “inherently change the relationship of time.”

Keeping track of the time is vital in business and commerce. But, in a resort-based economy, White says, a tourist’s “need to run your life by the clock is greatly minimized, and I think people in travel and tourism have long realized that they can make their clients and customers happier by not emphasizing (time).” – Living – Las Vegas marks time to its own steady beat

I liked White’s line about a reliance on tourism not changing the nature of time. As you’ll see if you click over a read the whole piece, I was quoted to that effect later on. Time really is of the essence in the hospitality business, as anyone who’s had to wait for a room will attest to.

I disagree with White; in many cases, I think that tourists are just as clock-bound as 9-to-5ers. Pulling off a standard night out–dinner, show, nightclub, requires pretty good timing. You can’t just stroll into a show when you feel like it–you’ve got to be there for the curtain.

While the notion of Las Vegas hurtling through the space-time continuum, completely at its own pace, is an appealing one, time passes here just the same as it does everywhere else, with an obvious exception for relativity effects.

Vegas might look like one big party, but it’s a big business too, and that means that it’s organized and disciplined.

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