By our man in Vegas, Andy Walmsley, former Blackpool stage set designer
You would think Las Vegas an unlikely place to find a thriving community of ex-pat Brits, but Sin City is home to 30,000 sun loving fruit machine hugging Limeys.
Four years ago I started a British society (www.uklv.co.uk) with friends Sam Ratcliffe and Steve Lee. We have thrown numerous parties for the Brits in Vegas and, oddly, I now have more friends here than I ever had in Blackpool.
Many were granted their visa or Green card due to their special skills in the world of entertainment. In a city with more than 100 shows, the Brits are involved in many of them. Most visibly Matt Goss has starred in his own brilliant show at Ceasar’s Palace, 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, lead singer of The Commodores, and as British as they come, is a great pal of mine, Lez Warner, the drummer in The Cult, can be found in various shows in Vegas. Domonick Allen of the group Foreigner, a proud Scot, lives here in the desert.
Ex-TV presenter Nick Weir also lives up the road from me. Robin Leach, a famous ex-pat TV presenter in the States can regularly be found out on the town as he is now a Vegas blogger and columnist. There’s other ‘famous’ Brits calling Vegas home and thousands more living and working here as dancers. Cirque du Soleil gymnasts (ex-UK Olympiads), black jack dealers (Brits who used to work on cruise ships) and the RAF have a large presence here at the Nellis Air Force base in North Las Vegas.
How do we Brits get our creature comforts? We now have three British pubs in town, dozens of Irish pubs, two British grocers (for our Cadbury’s, baked beans and PG Tips!) and we all watch live British TV either through ‘slingbox’ or BBC iPlayer. We tend to hang out together and it’s impossible to not make friends with a random Brit when you hear their accent in a queue.
So you see, sometimes it’s easy to think we are in Blackpool and not Vegas. There is one major difference however, the weather. Today, I watched reports of gale force winds and heavy rain back home then drove down the strip with the roof off my car and sunglasses on. Sorry, but one thing we do miss is moaning about the weather!
For more information see www.vegasliveshow.com.