Neon Nights: Working At Life is Beautiful

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One of the most anticipated times of the year, for me at least, is when the Life is Beautiful festival comes back to invade Downtown Las Vegas. Last year, after hearing about it from my co-worker, I applied to work the festival in 2017 and received an on call opportunity. Sort of ho hum reaction from myself as I assumed that I wouldn’t be working and would instead be at my real job that weekend. Though on opening day of the festival I got a call to work all three days. Crap! Do I call out all three days from my job? No, I couldn’t do that to my team… so, reluctantly I declined the offer and went on my way.

This year I made a promise to myself, that it potentially being our last year in Las Vegas that I would make it to the festival one way or another. I requested that whole weekend off at the beginning of the year and when August came around I went to the interviews again. Fast forward to Adam and I in Chicago at the ALL IN wrestling event on September 1st, we’re having the time of our lives… I can’t help but check my email and there it is. “CONGRATULATIONS! You’re hired to work the 2018 Life is Beautiful Festival!”

That month passes by with excitement and anticipation for LIB weekend. My friend, who told me about the event staffing, works this event pretty much every year its been in Vegas. So, with experience working in all things customer service from retail to Vegas pool parties, I knew I would be a shoe in. However, it’s competitive! You gotta have a great attitude going in, because the first impression is the only impression that matters for these cattle calls.

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That lineup though…

Besides making money all weekend, I was most excited to just be INSIDE the festival grounds. To walk around and look at all the artwork, food trucks and various stages with all different genres of musical acts… I’m so grateful. The two main groups I was most excited for was French electronic duo Justice and indie rock group Arcade Fire. The whole lineup was pretty spectacular though, with Death Cab for Cutie, First Aid Kit, Wolfmother, Cashmere Cat, Alison Wonderland and so many more… there really is something for every listener. Even the not so “hip with the times” person like myself.

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Photo: From my friend’s instagram @supergluu88 caught the flame throwers going off at my skee ball booth.

My booth, or bar I guess would be the proper thing to call where I was working was on 8th and Ogden street off the main drag of Fremont Street. Though we were pretty quiet during the daylight hours, once the sun went down, we were poppin’ (literally) cans upon cans of beers. In the empty lot we were in, a whole row of neon-lit skee ball lanes were erected for festival goers to enjoy and, spoiler alert, it’s FREE! Unlike anything else in the festival. Well, I guess that’s not entirely true, there were lots of opportunities for free swag. One of the biggest sponsors, Toyota had two tents where they had mini DJ sets of main stage acts performing smaller “secret” sets and drew modest crowds of people. All the while handing out bandanas, screen printed tote bags, ice cream, custom enamel pins, and fanny packs! Seriously, so much swag.

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Photo: Multi-colored sequin interactive art piece right by my booth.

Just being inside the park for the weekend, there was so much to see. Besides the musical talent, there is so many art installations and galleries that are put together just for the weekend. One vacant building, The Western Motel turns into an indoor art gallery, where you can purchase artwork. Empty walls and facades turn into a painter’s canvas. All of downtown turns into one giant art installation of all different kinds of mediums. There are always several murals that pop up during Life is Beautiful that I’ll spot when we’re ever downtown at the bars on a later date.

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Photo: Mural by artist Retna.

This was my first year being a part of this festival as a staff member. Though at times not everyone was on the same page, as with crazy, mega-scale festivals can be hectic, I am so lucky to have had this opportunity. I really scored on the location and the team at my bar. They were long 12 hour days, but it didn’t feel like it AT ALL. At the end of the day, it felt like a hard days work well earned. When I was done, I got to enjoy a few of my favorite bands, live. There is no greater sound or feeling.

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See ya next year!

 

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