XS – a bit seXiSt?

Most of the time, I’m pretty happy with my life. I’m young; healthy; I’m living in California; I’ve got great friends; Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and In-N-Out Burger are things that exist in the world. But there are those days when I wish I was someone else. When I’m at the bar and fumbling over my words trying to chat up a girl, I wish I was George Clooney. When I’m stumbling around the field, coughing up a lung from lack of fitness in our weekly intra-mural soccer game, I wish I was Wayne Rooney (or just anyone who hadn’t drunk 10 beers and slept four hours the night before). And when I’m in Vegas, I wish I was a girl. Because while the first rule is “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” the second rule is “girls get Vegas served up to them on a platter.”

I’ve just returned from a weekend in Sin City. Like most people who do such weekends properly, my wallet is now substantially lighter than when I left. We travelled in a group of eight guys and eight girls, and the simple fact of having XX chromosomes instead of XY meant that the second half of our group would potentially be able to sail through the weekend without spending a single dollar after 9pm. Vegas is a place where you can shell out an entire night’s budget for dinner, drinks and taxi home, simply on door entry charges… unless you’re rolling with a decent-sized group of decent-looking girls.

Everyone on the street is a club promoter, a guy who “can get you in there cheap, help you skip the line,” and it’s always a variation of the same deal; ladies in for free (usually with drinks thrown in), gentlemen pay a little less than the going rate. One of our girls, a lovely Scottish lass, came across a guy who offered us a deal that was gilt-edged for the girls, but not so much for the boys. He could, he boasted, get us into Tryst and XS nightclubs at the Encore hotel, and set the girls up with free drinks. David Guetta was playing at XS, and we’d skip the line. The price? Girls free, boys $75.

The next night, without having a club hook-up sorted, we wandered the Strip looking for some fun. We stepped into the lobby of PURE club at Caesar’s Palace, and within seconds, the girls had been taken under the wing of a promoter who was picking off groups as they walked in. This guy no doubt did the time-honoured promoter calculations (amount of girls, divided by amount of boys, times by inches of leg showing under dress hemline, plus likeliness to buy a lot of drinks) and decided we fitted the bill, and gave the girls free entry and drinks, and grudgingly knocked a few bucks off the boys cover charge.

It’s not just seedy promoters who help girls get through the weekend without too much wallet damage. The entire cost structure of clubs is slanted so heavily to the fairer sex that – in all seriousness – the lads talked about how often blokes must try to frock up and throw on a wig to attempt to get in for girls prices. We’re looking at going back to Vegas in a few weeks because the girls want to see Avicii play at Marquee. Pre-sale tickets are $20 for girls, $50 for boys – about the going rate for any popular DJ residency in Las Vegas. Calvin Harris, Guetta, Deadmau5 and more all have more or less the same prices. OK fine, you might think – clubs are usually dominated by males, and Vegas’ reputation is as a haven for beautiful women, so encouraging the girls and discouraging some of the boys is understandable. I get that.

But when the girls pay $20 plus $4 service fee, and the boys are paying an $8.50 service fee on their $50, it seems a little ridiculous. We’ve seen a plethora of recent articles in the Aussie music press about why we pay such high ‘service’ or ‘handling’ fees, with the answer being that it covers costs of online ticketing services, customer service, technology to scan tickets at the gate, and so on. It’s become an unavoidable and necessary evil of buying tickets. But how does it cost 2.5 times as much to handle a boys ticket, as a girls ticket? Surely the fee is going towards the same online ticketing services, customer service, and scanning technology – yet the fees are more than double for boys. That’s just #Vegas, I guess.

Either way, Vegas rules. I’m not a fan of clubs, but whenever I’ve paid to get in a club there, I’ve walked away happy… and a fair bit poorer.

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