Nothing There Anymore

Have you ever wanted to go back to a place or city that you’ve been to a couple of times, but the overriding reaction is, “There’s nothing left for me there anymore”? That’s happening with me and Las Vegas. I’m listening to Abbi McBride (wife, assistant and spiritual partner to the great illusionist Jeff McBride), which led me to check the list of people he’s following on Twitter to see if she had a feed, which led me to a nerdtastic list of magicians (some of which I’ve had the privilege to chat with over the years–however briefly), which led me to remember my last trip to Las Vegas. (Which, sadly, started with the thought, “Why am I here? There’s nothing really here for me, anymore.”)


The last time I went to Las Vegas, I attended the Vegas Vortex’s Fall Festival. I arrived on Wednesday, the day before the festival began and did “touristy stuff” during the day, while attending festival events during the evening. (After sunset is when my people come out, don’t you know! [Kidding…sort of.])

I don’t think they start on Thursday anymore, but in 2008, they had an opening potluck at the House of Mystery; Jeff and Abbi’s home, lecture hall, creativity center…whatever you want to call it. I tried to act my twenty-two years, but it was a bit of a struggle at first, as I was a huge fan of Jeff’s at the time. After the introductions and the opening activities, I was able to explore the house and see all the amazing stuff–including Jeff’s collection of awards, Guinness World Records and magic memorabilia. I won’t lie…it was hard waiting for Jeff to come home from the show he was doing at Palace Station! I hate using cliches, but I was jumpier than a cat at a rocking chair convention! Even when he arrived, it was hard to stay calm and behave myself…even after bouncing all around my hotel room to try to calm myself down! My friends Sabrina and Marie started warming up their bodhrans after Jeff’s arrival, Abbi sat down with her…bodhran, I think it was, and another gentleman and gentlewoman joined the group with their own instruments. Sabrina handed me a rattle so I could join them, but I was still so antsy (and busy keeping an eye on Jeff) that I had trouble keeping the rhythm. Finally, I gave up and got up to dance. Then I really let go.

I haven’t said much about myself since I started attracting a slightly bigger audience with fellow King of the Nerds viewers (and Moo, Celeste and Brandon–thank you all!), but besides being a novelista, I love to dance! Some might be afraid to get up in front of a group to dance–even a niche group of about two dozen or so, like there were at the potluck–but I’ve long said that music runs through my blood and I can feel the rhythm in my feet. If I get the urge to dance, I dance–others be damned! I just started moving extemporaneously and the next thing I knew, I had a little dance choreographed. I don’t think I actually realized it until another woman got up and started copying what I was doing! (In Monica Furlong’s Juniper, Ninnoc says, “Sometimes we danced the dance…sometimes the dance danced us.” That’s definitely what it felt like!)

Friday night, we saw Jeff’s show at the hotel/casino, for which Jordan Wright, his protege of the time, opened. (If you’ve never seen Jordan perform as “Mr. Right”, check out his YouTube channel…he reminded me of a young Dick Van Dyke.) I can’t tell you how amazing it is to see illusions live that I’ve previously only seen on television. Our seats were pretty far in the back, but it didn’t matter–Jeff is such an amazing illusionist, he’ll draw you in, wherever you’re sitting. After the show was over, we were all shooed out into the casino so they could start setting up for Wonderground and the Witches and Wizards Ball. I can’t describe the Wonderground for you…even this story barely brushes the truth of it! That was the first year the Ball had coincided with Wonderground, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Ball attendees have gone every year since. Music, magic, dance, readings…Marie doing live painting on some nights…crazy stuff! (This is the video from the night I went…I can be seen from 1:04-1:10 in the white evening gown and circlet.) I’ll never forget when Sabrina and I left the casino to find a taxi so we could go back to our hotel…Jordan and his friend actually chased us down to talk to us one last time! (We were also a bit punch drunk, so we had fun giggling like crazy and chattering to the driver like he was a friend who had missed all the fun.)

My mother talked me out of going to Bonedance on Saturday (“What if you fight with Marie? How are you going to get home?” etc., etc.), which is a real shame. Yes, I have the memory of gazing out at the Rockies from my room while chatting on the phone with a sweetheart of mine (who happened to be in California at the time), but I still haven’t been to a ritual at Sekhmet Temple or an all night fire circle. I grant that everyone was exhausted the next day and could hardly function at HeartShare (the closing potluck), but how many memories did they make that I missed out on?


Sometimes, my heart calls me to go back to Las Vegas, if only to experience the exhilaration of Fall Festival one more time, or to break new ground by attending Mysterium or MayFire. But what’s left for me there, other than that?

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