Fans of AMC’s The Walking Dead are often overjoyed between the hours of 2:00am and beyond (if not waay earlier) as they get to enjoy watching the drunken, shoeless masses who stumble through the Vegas casino floors after partying on heels that they never should have worn out. Are they flesh eating zombies or girls enjoying a night out? It’s hard to tell.
“Oh, look, look! That one is about to fall over! Get this on Snapchat!”
The truth is, unless you’re a seasoned club-goer, most newbie efforts toward hotness end up on the floor—quite literally—when the gorgeous heels we wanted to conquer have turned our tootsies into swollen stumps. And instead of being sexy and knowing it, we’ve been rendered barefoot and negligent of the many health hazards (and public ridicule) that walking shoeless in a club can bring. Broken glass. Having our toes stepped on. The scorn of the masses. Its not good.
If this isn’t you, Cinderella, you’ve at least seen one girl (or two, or 70) traipsing through clubs (or —gasp!— Las Vegas Boulevard) with blackened feet courtesy of poor shoe choices. We’re here to help you not be No. 71.
Smart Girls, Gone Glitzy
When it comes to wardrobe malfunctions of the feet, something seems to happen between our daytime hours of good decision making and picking our club-night footwear. And that thing, typically, is a flight. That’s not to say locals can’t mistake the ability to rock a pair of six-inch heels. But if someone’s going down, it’s usually a tourist.
Stefanie Gatsinaris is a marketing manager for one of Las Vegas’ biggest liquor suppliers. Old enough to be wise yet young enough (and fit) to dress like she isn’t, Gatsinaris’s job puts her in dress-to-impress clothes at least twice weekly as she dutifully visits her 15-plus clients…and she never leaves home in flats. For tourists visiting for a big weekend, she’s blunt about why girls end up carrying their going-out shoes by sometimes as early as midnight: They just aren’t prepared for Vegas.
“How I look at it is they’re 21, 22, and they either buy cheap shoes or they haven’t broken them in…or, they’re just not used to walking in heels,” she says.
Gatsinaris notes what nearly every gal who lands at McCarran overlooks: The casinos are massive, and women rarely realize the distance from a casino’s entrance to the club’s front door. Then there’s the waiting in line before doors open (…and God help you if you don’t have a bottle service reservation). That’s when trouble hits. “You see them flopping around, trying not to fall, and then you’ve got people pointing and laughing at them,” she says. Soon, the shoes have come off entirely.
The female pack mentality can also lead to bad shoe decisions. “Girls try to dress as a group,” she adds, which may be great for the gal with heeled experience but notsomuch for the one in her first pair of Jessica Simpsons.
“A lot of it is being comfortable and confident,” says Gatsinaris, who from 2003-2010 owned the modeling agency Elios Enterprises in California before moving to Las Vegas. If you want to stand out and not be part of the masses there are options other than a Stiletto you’re not used to. Notes the pro: “People take you more seriously if you carry yourself appropriately.”
If there are different strokes for different folks, different clubs have different attitudes about the shoed…and not.
“We wouldn’t ever let anyone walk around without their shoes on,” says Tom Recine, a casino executive who in his 20-year Las Vegas career has worked in upper management at Luxor, New York New York, Planet Hollywood, and the Tropicana.
“All they’d have to do is get cut and they blame us,” he says. But that’s not to say that clubs aren’t sympathetic. Recine says the only time he sees barefoot women is as they leave clubs, and because of that, some places have gotten smart (or at least capitalistic). Outside the Tropicana, for example, a bank of vending machines spits out folded-up slippers for dance floor warriors to buy to replace their heels for the walk home. “For their one night out, if they’re really not used to wearing heels and they want to be glamorous for the night…if they’re going to take off their shoes outside, [casinos] are going to cash in,” he says.
Professional Tip: The slippers cost $10-$20 a pop and can also be bought at CVS and Walgreens.
At the other end of the shoe rack is Hyde Nightclub, the swankily intimate lounge-by-early-hours-club-by-night overlook to the Bellagio fountains that offers one of the strip’s most chill views.
“Here at Hyde, we actually encourage the girls to dance on the furniture,” says Hector Peñate, who since Hyde’s opening has been a VIP host and in charge of customer development.
On the square, leather-covered banquettes with sides hardly wider than a balance beam, Peñate points out scuffs and heel marks from gals who groove in their shoes…though by the end of most nights, “this will look like a shoe store,” he says, pulling out the booth’s built-in drawers Hyde smartly installed for purses and, of course, heels.
Hyde prides itself on filling its space with beautiful dancing women, and Peñate says the club will sacrifice anything for the party except safety. Hyde has turned to using acrylic serve ware at night, and will ask women to keep their shoes on if they walk out of their immediate bottle-service area and into the main club.
Trends for Tootsies
Peñate and Recine noted how often women now go clubbing with two pairs of shoes. “Obviously, they walk in with their best shoes,” says Peñate. “It’s almost like a performance.” But when they’re leaving the night, it’s time for comfort.
And according to Peñate, the comfy ones are just fine. “To be honest,” says the charming Cuban host, “as a man, when I see a beautiful woman, I’ve never been looking at her shoes.”
Advice from the Inside.
Edward Parker has been a senior VIP host since 2009, and he’s got a loud-and-clear message for the twentysomething lasses planning a big night in LV: “I know you all want to look sexy in those Stiletto heels, high wedges or strappy numbers from the designer you’ve saved for months to buy,” he says, “I also know your feet may hurt as a result of your need to look good. But don’t take your shoes off in a club. It’s a big no-no for a couple of reasons.”
Here is Parker’s hard-ass truth about why you should navigate the clubs in your lady slippers, not out of them.
1) “Slicing your foot open on broken glass is going to make your dream night in a club end in a trip to the hospital. You’ll be escorted from the club, you will pay for an ambulance ride, you will have a nice little bill sent to your home address…and, you’ll have a really cool scar without a cool story to justify it.”
Moral: Never wear brand new shoes without breaking them in. Period. And if you’re choosing between two pairs, pick the more comfortable.
2) “Plan ahead. I get that heels hurt. But be smart, sanitary and sophisticated by bringing some flats to rock for a bit when you can’t deal with the heel. Your experience will be heightened with a little planning. Trust me.”
Moral: Take a slightly larger clutch to the club so you can slip in a pair of fold-up flats.
3) “A bad case of ‘blackfoot’ is always gross. Watching the gorgeous girl strut into the club after she’s worked for two or three hours making herself look great goes right down the drain when she leaves the club and the soles of her feet match the color of her mascara. In a word: Yuck.”
Moral: Educate your girlfriends on proper shoe etiquette.
(Written for LasVegasNightclubs.com by Felicia Mello)