I've been in the same band, on and off, for nearly 12 years now, and we've played a lot of shows. But before tonight I'd never played in a casino, as we're doing all this week, right through to Saturday night.
Lulu's is a small (125 seat) show lounge at one end of the massive River Rock Casino, just across the Oak Street Bridge from Vancouver in its southern suburb of Richmond (near dead centre in this photo, on the peninsula between the three bridges). It is very professional, with a good stage, plenty of lighting, excellent equipment (and Mike, a good sound engineer), nice tables and chairs, and a large bar. We had great fun at the show, even on a quiet Tuesday night. It should be quite a blast by the weekend.
Yet that weird casino vibe is still there. Parking is free in the huge, security-patrolled, multi-level parkade next door. The ceilings and walls are dotted with hundreds of domed video cameras, augmented by dozens of beefy security staff regularly pacing the floor or standing ominously in strategic locations. There are no clocks. Photography is prohibited inside. Most of the floor is taken up by bank upon bank of bleeping, flashing slot machines. I had a good time onstage, but it just doesn't seem like the kind of place I'd go to have fun if I weren't working there.
Then again, I don't even buy lottery tickets, so I'm obviously not in the casino target market at all.