The Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend means pinup girls, tattoos, classic cars and, most importantly, music. This weekend, the 19th annual festival played the Orleans Hotel and Casino, bringing fashion, burlesque and more to Sin City.
The music of Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, and other rockabilly originals filled the stage from Thursday to Sunday. Bands – like the legendary Dick Dale – and DJs played classic hits, but music was just one of the many facets of the festival, which pulls in stars like Dita Von Teese. “Burlesque Bingo” and the event’s signature Viva Las Vegas car show are by far the most popular, but every aspect of the festival celebrates the “rockabilly lifestyle.”
Vendors sell t-shirts, sweaters, jewelry, and dresses that (depending on your age) were hip when your mom was young – along with rockabilly classics on CD, LP, and vinyl 45. If you don’t know exactly the best way to embrace the tunes, which feature a mix of ‘50s rock, blues, and western, jive dance classes are offered to really get newbies in the swing of things.
“I play the smaller rooms and I find more freedom there,” DJ Celia Villagran, a.k.a. Texas Hellkitten, told Vegas Seven. “My focus tends to be classic rockabilly and Texas rockabilly, but I love throwing in music from Webb Wilder, Nick Curran or Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.”
The other aspects of rockabilly sprang from this musical foundation, but they’re now just as defining of the genre as the music itself, a fact that was on full display at events like the Pinup/Burlesque meet-and-greet.
“What happens is, the term ‘rockabilly’ now is used to describe a scene,” Tom Ingram, the event’s organizer, told the Las Vegas Review Journal.
Over 20,000 people were pulled to the festival which, this year, had over 65 live bands, 15 DJs, six music venues, Sailor Jerry tattoo stations, and dancing into the night – every night.
“Once I joined my first rockabilly band, I discovered there was a whole scene of people who were as interested in vintage music and style as I was,” musician Rachel Wilson told Vegas Seven. “There was a whole lot more attention to artistic detail in the style of everything in the past, as compared to today. As for the music, there is no denying, rockabilly is just fun.”
The auto show – one of the biggest vintage car shows in America – had everything from Mustangs to Corvettes, but all vehicles are strictly pre-1963 and must be in a style from that era. Over 800 cars were registered this year.
If you missed out this year, don’t worry, the dates are already set for 2017 and beyond. The 20th edition will run from April 13th to 16th, 2017. Start your trip planning now!
(Photo Credit: AP, John Locher.)
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