Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2014

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Guest Columnist:

Nightlife guru Jack Colton: How to survive and thrive after moving to Las Vegas

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Eric Ita

Jack Colton.

2012 Guest Columnist Jack Colton

Jack Colton at SkyJump in the Stratosphere. Launch slideshow »

2011 Guest Columnist Jack Colton

Jack Colton. Launch slideshow »

As Robin Leach wraps up a northern Italian lake district lifestyle before his traditional summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy — plus Lake Como and Lake Maggiore this year — many of our Strip personalities have again stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. We continue today with nightlife kingpin Jack Colton.

Now that I’ve long sailed past my 10th anniversary of moving back to Las Vegas and working in the nightlife industry, I’ve seen my fair share of people who have moved here only to leave after a short time once they’ve decided that Las Vegas wasn’t for them.

There are plenty of perfectly legitimate reasons for someone to move away so soon — job opportunities, relationships, the desert heat, they’ve got a warrant out for their arrest.

But for every person with a reasonable case for leaving, there seems to be one who just fell victim to any number of common mistakes that so many make, leading them to quickly burn out and leave.

A lot of the people who seem to have the worst things to say about Las Vegas are the ones who couldn’t cut it here. Every place is what you make of it, so here are a few tips for making the most out of Las Vegas.

Keep your vices in check.

This one is so obvious that it’s almost a cliche, but it’s nonetheless extremely important. A lot of new residents move here treating it like an absurdly long version of their last balls-to-the-wall vacation. Commonsense says that if you spend all of your time drinking, gambling, partying and anything else that a tourist will do, you’ll eventually end up broke, bored or both.

Get it out of your system as quickly as possible and then treat the Strip’s entertainment as an occasional treat, part of your career or something that you partake in only when friends are in town (which is going to be quite often).

Don’t move to a crappy part of town.

Scoping out the crime statistics and school ratings would seem like a fairly obvious thing to do when moving to a new city, but I often see newbies move to Las Vegas only giving consideration to a home’s close proximity to the Strip.

This is a terrible plan. With the exception of the high-rise towers, many of the residential areas near the Strip leave a lot to be desired. And by leave a lot to be desired, I’m referring to the fact that you’ll probably be replacing car windows and might end up in jail for punching one of the dozens of people who will be hitting you up for money throughout the week every time you step outside.

If you have a car, being close to the Strip is irrelevant because you can get to most anywhere in Las Vegas in 15 to 20 minutes. There are many exceptions to the rule, but I’ve found that it easiest to look for places south of the 215 Beltway.

Click to enlarge photo

Jack Colton, left, at Sky Combat Ace.

Click to enlarge photo

Jack Colton.

Get out of Las Vegas as much as possible.

One of the best tricks to loving Las Vegas is to leave it as much as possible. Our tourist infrastructure makes flights to anywhere a reasonable reality, and you have no shortage of great daytrip options a few hours’ drive. Take advantage of this often, and you’ll always be excited to return home to the sea of lights.

Surround yourself with good people.

I’ve met some of the best people ever in Las Vegas and have built a group of very close friends who will remain such for a lifetime. They come from all walks of life, from all corners of the globe. We hike together, go to movies, enjoy trips, work on projects and do everything you’d possibly want from the people you choose to keep in your life.

The flip side of the coin is that, as with anywhere, you’ll also meet some of the worst people around, and they will eagerly use you and bring you down if you allow it.

Be fiercely protective of who you keep around you. If someone has a tendency to always be the center of drama, avoid them. If they don’t do what they say they will, have things in their lives that don’t add up, have a bad reputation or are knee deep in addiction and vice (with no interest in getting help), run far away.

Mind your brand.

Whether or not you know it, you have a brand. One of the first things I was told back in 2003 was that “Las Vegas is one big small town.” This has been the most important advice I was ever given because it’s entirely true.

Everything you do, say, the things you put on social media, the clothes you wear, what you write, the places you go and even the sum of what you leave in your garbage will define who you are and what people think about you.

If you plan on having a thriving career, managing your personal brand will help ensure that you are someone people want to work (and hang out) with here.

Always read my shameless plugs.

Robin said that we could plug whatever we wanted, and I’d be a fool to not take advantage! Our company owns a number of digital brands and nightlife companies. For nightlife, we have JackColton.com, Jackify.com and Blackout Artist Management. Our two national digital brands are the viral juggernaut Unlooker.com and the site that I’m personally going all Howard Hughes on, the soon-to-launch fitness brand LeanMass.com.

Be sure to read our other guest columns today from Myron Martin, president and CEO of the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, and music hitmaker Zoe Thrall of Studio at the Palms. Our guest columnists this week include Boyz II Men singer Shawn Stockman, Elton John’s partner David Furnish, gorgeous “Fantasy” topless beauty Tracey Gittins, three cast members from “Jersey Boys” at Paris Las Vegas and “Mamma Mia!” at Tropicana, singer and Las Vegas resident Pia Zadora and Food Network chef and World Food Championships host Ben Vaughn.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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