Livewire - January 12

By Andy Walmsley, former Blackpool stage designer

You would think Las Vegas an unlikely place to find a thriving community of ex-pat Brits but Sin City is, according to the British Consulate, home to 30,000 of us sun-loving fruit machine-hugging Limeys.

Four years ago I started a British society ( www.uklv.co.uk ) with friends Sam Ratcliffe (Sheffield) and Blackpool's Steve Lee.

We have thrown numerous parties for Brits in Vegas. I have more friends here than I ever had when I lived in the UK.

Many Brits here were granted their Visa or Green card due to their special skills in the world of entertainment.

It goes without saying in a city with over 100 shows that Brits would be involved in many.

Most visible is Matt Goss, who stars in his own show at Caesar's Palace, and we have other pop stars: Lee Gorman (of Adam and the Ants and Bow Wow Wow) can be found DJing in Vegas, (superstar DJ Paul Oakenfold spends most of his time here. JD Nicholas is lead singer of The Commodores, he's a great pal. Lez Warner was the drummer in The Cult and can be found in various shows in Vegas.

Domonick Allen of the group Foreigner is a proud Scot and lives here in the desert.

Ex-TV Presenter Nick Weir also lives up the road from me. Robin Leach, although not generally known in Britain, is an ex-pat TV presenter in the States.

There are a dozen more famous Brits calling Vegas home, but there are thousands more here working as dancers. Cirque du soleil gymnasts (ex-UK Olympians), Black Jack dealers, and I bet you didn't know the RAF have a large presence here at the Nellis Air Force base.

You might ask how we Brits get our creature comforts? Well, we now have three British pubs in town, dozens of Irish pubs, two British grocers (for Cadburys, Baked Beanz and PG Tips) and we all watch live British telly, either through 'slingbox' or BBC i-player.

We tend to hang out together and it's impossible to not make friends with a random Brit when you hear their accent in the queue at Starbucks.

Sometimes it's easy to think we are in Blackpool and not Las Vegas.

There is one major difference however, the weather. Today I watched the ITN news as they reported blizzards in the UK, and minutes later drove down the strip with the roof off my car and my sunglasses on.

In fact, the only thing we miss is moaning about the weather!

* Andy's showbiz web site www.vegasliveshow.com