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Las Vegas Shows

Those old-style Las Vegas shows are back

Show Girls of Las Vegas © Corel
Most of the family-oriented entertainment is gone and the adult-oriented entertainment has returned.

When Bugsy Siegel first established his nightclub in Las Vegas over 75 years ago, he tried to draw customers from southern California and the surrounding areas by offering good food, free drinks, glitzy entertainment and legal gambling. The early Las Vegas shows were designed to attract those free spending, gregarious gamblers known as the "high rollers". As the town grew into a city, it became known for its extravagant Las Vegas shows that included famous entertainers, bawdy comedians and beautiful, scantily-clad dancers.

About twenty years ago, the Las Vegas Casinos decided to become more family oriented. They added amusement parks and fun-filled family activities. They made their shows less risqué and bawdy. A few casinos still offered those old-fashioned Las Vegas shows with topless dancers, and ribald humor, but most of their shows were more family oriented. The casinos eventually realized that family vacationers spend most of their time with their children.  They do not spend much time gambling.

Today, the Las Vegas entertainment scene is more vibrant and exciting than ever. Most of the family-oriented entertainment is gone and the adult-oriented entertainment has returned. Those old-time, risque, bawdy Las Vegas shows of Bugsy Siegel's era are back. In addition, world-class entertainment extravaganzas are commonplace along the strip.

Las Vegas offers at least 50 different big shows every day

On any given day, Las Vegas offers at least 50 different big casino shows, plus hundreds of lesser shows at various smaller casino venues, bars, nightclubs and other theaters around town. On any weekend, at least one major event featuring a famous recording star or world-class entertainer will be held at one of the large casino venues. Here is a partial list of the various shows available in Las Vegas.

  • Big "blockbuster" shows featuring great singing stars, world-famous entertainers or championship boxing matches are held at major venues such as the Grand Garden Arena in the MGM Grand Casino. These big shows are usually held on weekends and may last only a few nights. Ticket prices range from $50 to $150. Advance reservations are necessary.
  • Traditional Las Vegas Performances featuring great magicians, singers, dancers, comedians are held at the same casino theaters week after week for many years. Their appeal endures for years because they are very good. Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Junior, Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, Liberace and Siegfried & Roy were such long-term “headliner” entertainers in Las Vegas.  They were all eventually replaced by new stars like Tom Jones, Wayne Newton and Bette Midler.  By the time you read this, there will probably be a completely new set of Las Vegas stars. Tickets for such shows cost $60 - $80. Reservations are recommended especially for weekend performances.
  • Las Vegas productions including extravaganzas like the Cirque du Soliel shows, musical reviews, retrospectives, magic shows and variety shows are still very popular along the Strip. Some of them are great! If you like rock and roll, elvis, the beatles, country music, show girls, magic or dance, you can usually find it in one of these productions. Tickets cost between $40 and $100. The biggest and best productions cost the most and most likely require advance reservations.
  • Free Shows are offered by some of the casinos in order to entice you into their gambling halls. Rio offers a Masquerade in the Sky extravaganza nearly every hour. Sam's Town Casino offers a Western Stampede show four times a day. Freemont Street downtown has a canopy light show every hour after dark and many of the casinos provide mini shows and musical performances at no cost.
  • Old time Las Vegas Shows are offered at several casino venues every night. These are the glitzy productions featuring singers, dancers, comedians and lots of beautiful show-girls. Most of the early evening or matinee productions are less risque while the late evening performances feature the topless revues and ribald humor. Newer types of risque entertainment not available in Bugsy's days include the all-male dancer reviews and the female impersonators. Prices vary from $40 - $60. Reservations needed on busy weekends.
  • Sex shows featuring exotic dancers, strippers, nude dancers and lap dancers can be found in sin city but not in the casinos. The "gentlemen's clubs" and the seedier strip-tease bars can be found in the less desirable parts of town north of the Strip or west of the freeway. Admission prices vary but the gratuities can empty your wallet.
Experience a Show Las Vegas Style

You can reserve your show tickets

Tickets for the casino shows cost from $20 to $125. You should make reservations in advance for the popular shows as they are often sold out especially for weekend evenings.

If you want to find bargain tickets to a Las Vegas show, here are a few tips. When you stay in one of the casino hotels, inquire about special show discounts for hotel guests. Some hotels offer special ticket prices for their guests. Pick up a copy of any Las Vegas entertainment magazine or any coupon book. These tourist magazines are available everywhere and they sometimes offer discount coupons for certain shows. Be sure to register for the casino players clubs. Membership is usually free, and only costs you a few minutes to fill in your name and address. The casino will give you a plastic membership card that you can use every time you gamble in order to accumulate points toward free prizes. In addition, the membership cards often provide discounts on meals in the casino restaurants and discounts on the purchase of tickets for shows in the casino. There are now several reduced-price ticket locations along the Strip. They sell show tickets at a discount, but not for the most popular productions.

There are many free shows in Las Vegas

Be sure to take advantage of all the free shows in Las Vegas. Some of them are great and the prices are definitely right. You don't even have to enter a casino, as several of the free shows are available right from the sidewalks. Treasure Island provides a spectacular naval battle with a full-scale pirate ship and a British frigate that battle it out with cannons in front of the casino every 90 minutes. Mirage has a tropical isle with cascading waterfalls and a large volcano that erupts fire and smoke every 30 minutes after dark. Bellagio offers a musical water show every half hour in their private lagoon. At Fremont street, downtown, a spectacular light show is presented on a canopy 30 meters above the street every hour in the evening. The free Sunset Stampede production is held four times a day at Mystic Park near Sam's Town casino.

Neon Sign on Freemont Street in Old Las Vegas © Corel
Today, the Las Vegas entertainment scene is more vibrant and exciting than ever.

Inside the casino at Rio, a "Masquerade in the Sky" show features a lavish musical production suspended from the ceiling. In Caesar's Palace Forum Shops they present an animatronic show that includes statues that come to life every hour. MGM grand has a free tour through their lion habitat. I don't have enough space on this page to list all of the free entertainment that is offered in the many bars, lounges and restaurants at the various casinos. Las Vegas casinos offer so much free entertainment just to entice you to come and spend your gambling money in their establishment.

If you prefer the old fashion sexy Las Vegas shows...

If you prefer the old-fashion Las Vegas Shows with beautiful topless dancing girls and ribald comedy, you can still find them at several Las Vegas casinos.  The early shows tend to be a bit tamer and the later ones a bit more risqué.  There are also several shows at the casinos featuring well-developed scantily-clad male dancers that are favored by many feminine tourists.

I can't list all the shows, all the events and all the entertainers appearing in Las Vegas, because the list would be very large and it would change frequently.

Written by: Mike Leco
Top Photo Credit: © Mike Leco / USATourtist.com
Photo Description: Neon sign Above the entrance to Harrah's Casino