Once upon a time I wanted to be a Vegas showgirl. That was long before the chick from “Saved by the Bell” starred in that movie and before I realized eating a whole sleeve of Thin Mints was not in fact, normal. I was also completely oblivious to that whole “topless” factor. Minor detail, right? After seeing the statuesque dancers in “Jubilee,” I thought about how glamorous my life could’ve been if I would’ve continued my dance training. That was before I took the Jubilee Backstage Tour at Bally’s.
If you’ve ever been fascinated by what you can’t see in Vegas, this is a great tour to show you what it takes to create all that glitz and glam we’re known for. For about an hour, you get a behind-the-scenes look inside the world of Las Vegas show business. But don’t let those flawless figures fool you, it’s way more grueling than it looks.
One thousand seven hundred stairs a night, headpieces that are six-feet-wide with some weighing up to 35 pounds, 10 shows a week. That’s what you can look forward to as a showgirl or showboy in the longest running production on the Las Vegas Strip. It also explains perfectly why the only fat on their bodies is in their lips.
The tour is given by an impossibly beautiful showgirl in costume. Their average height is 5 feet 10 inches without heels. They’re all pretty proportioned with the opening of the stage, which is 35-feet by 75-feet. With such massive costumes, they have to be long and lean so they don’t look like they’re drowning in fabric and feathers. I learned quickly that I would’ve looked like a Minion onstage next to them. But a girl can dream, right?
“Jubilee” has a staff that works around the clock. From the engineers to the stage hands, to the wardrobe attendants and the dancers, it takes more than a hundred people to keep the show going every night. You’ll see a 6,000 pound set piece and learn who pushes it and how they push it onto the stage. You’ll find out why they go through 1,100 pounds of dry ice per night and learn about one of the most technologically advanced stages in the country.
I wouldn’t have known any of that without the tour. It’s one thing to watch the show and become captivated by the sheer production value, which is all built and maintained on-site BTW, but to learn how it all works is totally fascinating. “Jubilee” opened 34 years ago this month and is a multi-year award winner for their showgirls. That’s longer than many of the big name hotels have been on the Strip. If that doesn’t tell you they’re doing something right, I’m not sure what will.
During the tour, we went below the stage to the dressing rooms, met the costume crew and a few of the stage hands. Can you believe it’s actually someone’s job to mend the fishnet tights? Thankfully someone does it, because they go through 600 pairs a year. Imagine if they chucked them out every time somebody’s rhinestone snagged their pantyhose. Considering the total weight of their Swarovski jewelry for 65 dancers is 10,000 pounds, you can bet it happens countless times a night.
The costumes are too delicate and expensive to be subjected to flash photography so you’ll have to put your cameras away when you trek two flights below the stage to see them. I highly doubt Bob Mackie or Pete Menefee would appreciate you breaking the rules and snapping away at their illustrious designs, so don’t do it. Your cell phone pics probably won’t do these beauties any justice anyway, so relax and enjoy the tour. Oh, and be thankful you only have to climb those stairs once – I know I am.