Las Vegas Sun

November 24, 2017

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Guest Columnist:

Singer-dancer Maren Wade: It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing


Maren Wade.

2014 ‘Fantasy’ Calendar Party at Luxor

The 2014 “Fantasy” calendar-release party on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013, at Luxor. Launch slideshow »
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Maren Wade.

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Maren Wade.

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NFL legend Terry Bradshaw rehearses for his stage show at SIR Studios on Wednesday, June 12, 2013. Bradshaw will star in "A Life In Four Quarters" at The Mirage. With Bradshaw, from left, are Amanda Avila, Maren Wade, Sarah Jessica Rhodes and Lily Arce.

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Maren Wade of "America's Got Talent" and Jon Howes of Chippendales at The Rio arrive at the grand opening of "Smokey Robinson Presents Human Nature: The Motown Show" at The Venetian on Friday, Feb. 22, 2013.

Robin Leach has finished his annual summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy, and many of our Strip personalities again stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. As Robin enjoys the remainder of his working vacation with his family, we continue today with our popular guest columns.

Maren Wade knows all about the swing shift in Las Vegas. Her credits include “iCandy: The Show” at Planet Hollywood, “Broadway Celebration” and “Dancing Queen” at New York-New York, “Show in the Sky” at the Rio, “Terry Bradshaw: America’s Favorite Dumb Blonde — A Life in Four Quarters” at the Mirage and “Fantasy” at the Luxor.

Last year, Maren, who is now a guest columnist (“Confessions of a Showgirl”) for our colleague publication the Las Vegas Weekly, penned an insider’s savage commentary on several Strip theater productions that had closed in recent weeks. This year, she returns with an eye-popping double look at “swinging.” Read on!

I want to expose a dark, mysterious and gripping subculture that exists deep within the world of Las Vegas that isn’t talked about often. It’s not a place where everyone can go, and those who do have a unique vantage point. They hold the special key to the green door.

Welcome to the exclusive lifestyle of swinging. There, I said it. I got it out.

The swinging life can be a tempting turn-on and is quite adventurous at times, but it also is a life led under the radar. Some view it as unsettling and unpredictable, while others can’t seem to get enough. Those who engage in this sport leave their inhibitions at the door and never look back. It might not be for everyone, but no one can deny the skill involved to be successful at swinging.

There are so many obstacles to conquer in order to be a good swing. You have to be warmed up and ready to go mentally and physically at a moment’s notice. You might be surprised to learn that there is a lot of preparation that must be done well before the anticipated engagement. It’s arguably one of the most difficult jobs in theater.

Wait a minute! What did you think I was talking about?

Just to make sure we are all on the same page, I should probably explain what a swing is to those who are not as familiar with the theater world. I would imagine you’ve heard of an understudy, cover, standby, etc.? Well a “swing” is a performer who fills in for several roles in a production. I’m not quite sure how the specific term swing came about, but I could take a guess as to the in’s and out’s of it.

Being a swing is like managing a multiple-personality disorder. You never know which personality is going to come out at any given time, and you don’t get much notice when it does. You get to learn several versions of the same show. That’s enough to make a showgirl insane if she didn’t already start out that way.

Now maybe you’re thinking, “How is it possible a swing can constantly be pulled in different directions and like it?!” Or, perhaps, “How is it that swings seem to have no qualms about engaging with multiple partners — and on the same night, no less?!” But I assure you that there is an order to the chaos.

The key to a swing’s success is in her little black book. Every swing has one that contains all her trade secrets. You know, who the players are, their favorite positions, their usual times, etc. The swings who really excel are the ones who commit their little black books to memory. Then there are the “Super Swings” — well, don’t get me started on those because I might never stop.

Las Vegas is a town that breeds adventure around every corner. There are so many thrilling characters who make up our magical city. There are the ones you see all the time, and then there are the ones whom you only see out some of the time.

But even when you don’t see them, you can rest assured that our city’s swings are everywhere — hiding in the shadows, watching over us and, most importantly, ready at all times to swing on in and save the day.

Be sure to check out our other guest column today from winemaker Jack Sanders, who heads Sanders Family Winery in nearby Pahrump. On Wednesday, we’ll meet up with comedy star Geechy Guy and television’s secret kitchen weapon for beauty, Heather Marianna.

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.

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