This is my second time attending Tom Ingram’s rockabilly festival in Las Vegas, NV. I heard about the event through my colleague, Baltimore Lauren, when she was campaigning for Miss Viva 19. In addition to Dapper Day and various Gatsby lawn parties, I wanted to try out more events where I can dress up and enjoy the atmosphere of vintage Las Vegas during its early beginnings in the 1950s and 1960s. I only did the car show; I admit I’m not immersed in the rockabilly lifestyle, but I appreciate the vendors and entertainment Viva has to bring to Las Vegas.
Where do I start?! I must have packed several dresses in my suitcase. The running joke is that girls overpack for Viva just to have a few extra things on hand. I ended up only wearing a fraction of them during the weekend.
As vain as it sounds, my primary motivation to attend Viva is getting pinup photoshoots. Viva draws the best pinup photographers around the world offering unique styles and flavor. While Southern California does have their share of pinup photographers, I do like trying out new photographers. I mostly heard about these photographers through Instagram and world of mouth. I worked with the following pinup photographers through the weekend:
Atomic City Photography (East TN) – vintage boudoir glamour at Palms (with a Catherine Dlish robe on standby!)
Feathered Flash (Sacramento, CA) – vintage boudoir glamour at Paris Hotel and Casino
Jess W Photography (Las Vegas, NV) – colorful pinup sets located outside of the city
Mitzi & Co (Pomona, CA) – specializes in car shows; this shoot was a kickstarter reward for “Pinup: The Movie”
Retrodolls (Anaheim, CA) – World War 2 themed photoshoots down to the finest of details
The Car Show
This is Viva’s biggest draw and busiest day. Saturday brings in thousands of rockabilly and pinup enthusiasts to the car show. In this 80-ish degree weather, there was a sea of parasols and playsuits among pinup fashionistas and bowling shirts and bolo ties among the gents in the crowd. You can view classic cars all day long. There were also vendors that sold hair products, pinup style accessories, vintage second hand wardrobe, vintage reproduction vendors, etc. It was kinda hard to navigate the area because of the crowds and the heat. The other nice thing about the car show is the main stage – Brenda Lee was singing hits she sang and wrote. However, it did catch me off guard when she sang “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” the day before Easter. If you’re a first timer or curious about Viva, I do say to check out the car show to get a feel of it. I feel you do get your money’s worth there.
The Crazy Noisy Bizarre Town
The joy of having an event in Las Vegas is the fact that it is in Vegas. There’s a common notion that you have to be 21 and into the typical sin city activities to truly enjoy Vegas. I beg to differ. I did stop by the Venetian, Paris, Planet Hollywood, Miracle Mile, and the Bellagio during down time.
Dinner with friends at the Venetian and looking the part:
Visiting the Bellagio’s conservatory – this time, they had a classical Japan theme
Shopping at Tatyana Boutique and taking this lilac dress home
The phrase, “Crazy Noisy Bizarre Town” comes from the opening of Diamond is Unbreakable.
I enjoyed this year’s Viva more than I did last year. Even though I’m not immersed entirely into rockabilly, I thought it was a wise decision to just go for the car show and focus on pinup photoshoots. I went in knowing more people this time. I felt like such a newb during the first time like I didn’t know what to really expect and what to anticipate. I was surprised at the amount of compliments and people asking for my photo at the car show. It’s a very surreal feeling when people recognize you from Instagram. I’m not really “e-famous;” I like to do this as a hobby and make friends more than like counts. However, it’s surreal when people say, “Are you A Feline of Spectre?” I will gladly take the compliments, it’s just something I’m not used to hearing from this type of crowd. Please be patient with me!
The only problems I had were minor. I know everyone is going to complain about the Vegas sun, but it is what it is. I did like my stay at the Palms, but I might go for a few hotel next year. I did appreciate the upgrade to the 53rd floor, but the the bell desk was giving us a hard time at check out and there’s not a lot of options for food that’s not typical fast food in that part of town. Also, signal at the Orleans was the worst. I’m quite glad that I brought my point ‘n click camera. It did catch people off guard that I still had a traditional digital camera instead of using my phone. Eh, gotta have enough charge for my rideshare!
Many thanks to the photographers and maker uppers I’ve worked with through the weekend. You were all fun to work with and totally worth every penny. I enjoy pinup because I enjoy the pampering and the vanity of it all. You guys are the reason why I love coming out to Las Vegas during Viva. I’m so honored to work with some of the most talented photographers ever. It’s never a dull moment on set.
I would return again for the car show and friends. My body is still recovering from the weekend as I type this on my laptop, but I’m really glad to have spent my Easter weekend in Las Vegas being all fancy. I’m very glad to have connected with some of the most fabulous people I’ve ever met. I really needed Viva because life really hit me hard not too long ago; it’s nice to know that good people exist and that I can continue to rebuild my confidence and self through pinup and staying inspired. Next up? It’s Dapper Day weekend in the Real OC. It never ends, does it?