For months, a couple of my friends insisted I come to Las Vegas with them for a brony convention. For months, I told them no, constantly reiterating that I couldn’t afford plane tickets to go out to Vegas for four days only, let alone for a brony convention when I was already committed to going to several others across the country. This did not dissuade them. Every time I saw them, they would ask, “Are you sure you don’t want to come to Las Pegasus Unicon?” and then proceed to tell me about all the cool things they’d be doing there.
About three weeks before the big convention, I was fed up with life. I had friend drama out the ass, I was depressed, and I couldn’t stand waking up in the morning. Then on a day slightly less terrible than the rest, my ex boyfriend texted me asking, “I’m going to Portland in a few weeks, do you want anything?” so, without thinking, I replied, “To go with you.” Turns out, he was planning on going to Portland right after the convention, so I put two and two together and decided to make a trip of it, if for no other reason than to clear my head.
I thought about it for all of about five seconds and bought the plane tickets.
My departure came suddenly and I was on a plane headed West for the second time within a year. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to going to Las Vegas, gambling having never really interested me, but, like Disneyland, I felt like it was a stop on the list of required things travelers must see so that they learn to appreciate better places like New Orleans. Sort of like prerequisite classes. They’re stupid and you don’t want to have to take them to get to the good stuff, but you know you need to in order to understand the material in the next class.
My perception of Las Vegas before I actually went was shaped entirely by the film The Godfather, Part II. Watching this before I had ever been to Vegas was a terrifying mistake to make, as I constantly imagined I would be shot at any moment.
I’d only ever been to a casino once, gambling being illegal in my hometown, so when I stepped off the plane to find flashing, noise-making, epilepsy-inducing slot machines in the damn terminal, I knew I was in for a mentally exhausting few days.
I met up with my friends who had a slightly later flight and we took a shuttle to our hotel, The Riviera.
I hated it the second we entered the place. It looked like it was designed by a blind drag queen circa 1979. The obnoxious carpet made me nauseous and the chrome-covered everything only served to reflect the faces of the unhappy, scowling hotel staff times a thousand. The woman who checked us into our room was shockingly rude, and I later found that the entire hotel, employees and patrons alike, were dead-set on making us feel as unwelcome as possible.
For a city whose tagline is, “What happens here stays here,” the people of Vegas are excessively judgmental. Throughout the convention, I would overhear the Normals try to make sense of the grown men dressed as cartoon characters. “It must be some kinda weird sex thing,” they would say, or, “I think it’s about My Little Pony, but I don’t know what all these guys are doing here,” and “Did you see that one guy with the wings?” and they’d laugh. Some of them would out-right ask me, “So what’s up with all of… this?” with a wave of their hand toward the colorfully-clad bronies waiting in line for their coffee. I would explain to them, as politely as I could, that these were all just normal guys who really like the show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and yes, it’s a bit strange, but it’s also pretty wonderful that these men have found something that inspires them and makes them happy. I’m certainly proud to call myself a brony and to be part of this phenomenon that’s redefining our perception of masculinity and emphasizing the importance of love and tolerance.
But hey, maybe some people just think love and tolerance is stupid.
Las Pegasus Unicon overall was fun, although I spent a lot of the time wandering around the casino by myself while my friends were busy working the convention. That was fine with me: I went mostly to get away from the Dayton Doldrums anyhow, and I had a lot of mental stuff to parse out. I’m not sure if LPU will happen next year due to some misfortunes that occurred between the con heads, the hotel staff, and the celeb agents, but if not, it was a great one-time deal, and there are a growing number of brony conventions popping up across the country.
If you have heard about the aforementioned controversy, please keep in mind that a majority of the news out there is false and there are many rumors afoot. Please be wary of donating to any charity calling itself an “LPU Relief Fund” or anything of the sort. Immediately after the con, an official statement was released saying that the con heads had no affiliation with any charity organization and had no evidence of or control over where the charity money was going. I would post the official statement, but it has been redacted as well as the LPU site, leaving only the libelous reviews of the convention.
I have this thing called a Retroactive Bucket List full of items I only think of after I’ve done them. This con presented me with two:
- Gamble in Las Vegas (I played one slot machine and hated it)
- Travel across the country to support friends who are doing something they love
It is my personal opinion that despite the negative press, a lot of people got a chance to meet other bronies, chat with celebrities from the show, and have an all-around great time. The money and the drama behind the scenes isn’t my business, so from my perspective, it was a good convention.
Part 2: The Las Vegas Strip