Viva Las Vegas! Rockabilly Weekend (Part 1)

What happens when reverb goes to Vegas during Spring Break?  This is not some nascent plot for an episode of CSI.  Instead, it was Rockabilly Weekend, and the King of the Surf Guitar -- Guitar Legend -- Dick Dale was performing on Saturday afternoon.

One look at the bus stop on Tropicana Boulevard outside the New York, New York Resort-Casino told us that we were in the right place.  Several couples in readily recognizable rockabilly attire were in the queue waiting for the westbound bus.  The women wore sun dresses or tight high-waisted pants and cat eye sunglasses; their hair was done in curls or flips with bangs; polka dots were prevalent.  The guys dressed in denims, bowling style shirts or tees, chains to their wallets; pompadours and sideburns.  Some guys wore fedora hats.  Almost everybody displayed ink -- lots of ink.

We were headed to the Orleans Hotel and Casino for the major event of Rockabilly Weekend -- the car show.  Cars (pre-63, no muscle cars, no VWs), vendors, and bands.  The headliners on the main stage of the car show were Rockats, Little Richard (no, he is not dead), and Dick Dale.  Over the four days of the event, more than 80 bands were scheduled to perform.  They came from all over the world including Europe and Australia.

We joined the line and made our way on to the regional transit bus for the two or so mile jaunt from The Strip across I-15.  We really had no idea where we were going.  So we followed the lead of our fellow travelers who were in proper rockabilly attire.  By the time we completed the walk through the parking lot and the casino and out to the “arena,” the ranks of properly attired had swollen to several hundred, if not thousands.

We certainly were outliers.  Cargo shorts, Hawaiian shirt, retro Onitsuka Tiger shoes, and my modified 1962 dry-look surfer hair certainly stood out -- as in out of place!  Becky’s skirt was a ‘tweener -- either too loose or too tight or too long or too short.  Over the course of the afternoon, few couples, if any, in the 20,000 or so folks at the car show, wandering through the vendor displays, or in the casino matched our combined look.  Pin-up contestants and Budweiser or Sailor Jerry girls wore the shortest shorts.  The fashionable men in shorts wore Dickies to mid-calf.  We were quite out of the fashion of the day!

Rockabilly Weekend celebrates the beginnings of rock ‘n roll when young people rebelled against the staid society following World War II.  The dress, hair styles, music, and fascination with cars of youth departed from the America that their parents had fought to protect.  Post-War prosperity and opportunity were beginning. 

Of course and as seems typical, some religious leaders and politicians viewed the changing youth culture and rock ‘n roll as threats to societal order or just plain evil.  Communities banned rock ‘n roll music.  Elvis’ performance on Ed Sullivan is remembered not only for its ratings but also for the decision to show him from the waist up.  Except for a possible lack of inclusiveness, however, that phase of youth rebellion was little different than the Beats before or the Hippies afterwards.

On Easter weekend, more than 20,000 rockabilly revelers gathered in Las Vegas for music, vintage cars, and a bond shared with kids of more than 50 years ago.

1 comment

  • Shyla Barrow

    Shyla Barrow California

    I was here!!! I had a lot of fun. Man the memories! 토토사이트추천

    I was here!!! I had a lot of fun. Man the memories! 토토사이트추천

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