Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Double Down Saloon Showcases Las Vegas Without The Glitz
Like almost all tourists, I spend much of my time during Las Vegas holidays on the famed strip with all of its incredible hotels.

I'm not much of a gambler, but I enjoy soaking in the atmosphere and people-watching as I pound the pavement between the hotels before checking out what new attractions they have to offer inside. But the opulence really doesn't suit my style or budget, so I always make a late night/early morning trip to the underbelly of Vegas where I feel much more at home: the Double Down Saloon.

The Double Down has been located off the strip at 4640 Paradise Rd. since 1992, and bills itself as the "Anti-Vegas," "a clubhouse for the lunatic fringe" and "the happiest place on earth." It's just a block south of the Hard Rock Hotel, but its atmosphere  is a world away from the relatively sterile environment presented by the Hard Rock chain.

There are crazy, psychedelic murals covering the walls and ceilings and, if that's not enough visual overload for you, a variety of crazy videos are shown on screens around the relatively small club.

You can play pool, pinball, video poker or slot machines, and the jukebox has one of the coolest selections of music I've seen, with tunes by the likes of The Cramps, The Creepshow, Andre Williams, The Sonics, The Blasters, The Raveonettes, Ramones, The Stray Cats, Link Wray, NOFX, The Dropkick Murphys and The New York Dolls.

Local and visiting punk, rockabilly, psychobilly, surf, garage and lo-fi alternative rock bands play several nights a week at the intimate venue — and there's never a cover charge. Among the more notable acts to play the Double Down are The Riverboat Gamblers, The Dickies, The Supersuckers, TSOL, M.D.C., The Meatmen, The Vibrators, The Briggs, 5-6-7-8's, Cheetah Chrome and Boss Martians.

You'll also sometimes find DJs spinning a similar brand of music, burlesque performers and punk rock bingo.

If you're in a group and want to play at the Double Down, you should know that bands with midgets get extra consideration. I'm not kidding.

Beers are cheap, but more adventurous drinkers may be interested in the Double Down's signature cocktail: Ass Juice. Believe me, it tastes much better than it sounds. The bar also claims to be the birthplace of the Bacon Martini.

The Double Down never closes. But beyond that fact, always expect the unexpected.

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