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Casino Newbies

(Note: This post was written by Laurel Regan (pen name Dawn Storey) and originally published in Windsor Square on January 31, 2012.)

Not only are my husband and I newcomers to Windsor, we are also newbies to casinos. And when I say newbies, I mean complete newbies… as in, neither of us has ever set foot into a casino before.

That is, until this weekend!

ticketA couple of months ago one of my e-mail ticket alerts let me know that Nitty Gritty Dirt Band would be playing at Caesars Windsor in January. Neither my husband nor I are fans of new country music (sorry, Windsorites!), but he’s been a huge fan of the band’s bluegrass and old-timey gospel music (which I enjoy as well) since he was a teenager, and has never seen the band perform live, so there wasn’t any hesitation when I asked him if we should get tickets for the show.

Having been foiled by a too-long wait for dinner before the show at one of our favourite Windsor restaurants, The Penalty Box, we decided to head straight to the casino and try one of their restaurants.

First off, we were surprised to find that self-parking in the Caesars’ parkade was free! I’m not sure if that’s a regular occurrence, or if it happens only during shows, but we were glad not to have to shell out the additional cash.

As we walked into the casino, we both felt as though we’d been transported to another world, or perhaps stumbled onto a movie set with filming in progress. We were a little awed, I must say, by the rows upon rows of colourful flashing and blinking machines… and the people! I couldn’t believe just how many people were at those machines – it seemed as though the entire city of Windsor (or perhaps Detroit?) had decided to spend the evening at the casino!

Since neither of us had had a lot to eat that day, and the clock was running down, we were anxious to get some dinner. Our first attempt was the sports bar, but the lineup was far too long and we probably wouldn’t even have been seated until the time the doors opened for the show. Unfortunately, we had the exact same experience at each and every restaurant and café we tried… shorter lineups for the haves (that is, those in possession of upgraded memberships of some sort) and huge long lineups for the have-nots (the rest of us!). Rather grumpily, we ended up grabbing sandwiches from Starbucks and finding a place to sit in one of the lobby areas.

Once the food kicked in we started to feel much better, but what really cheered us was the conversation we had with a couple sitting in the chairs opposite to the ones we’d chosen. They were a perfect representation of what our overall experience with meeting people in Windsor has been – friendly and open, eager to help with information and suggestions, and very warm and welcoming. It’s a generalization to say this, I realize, but it seems to me that Windsorites are pretty down-to-earth and accessible. As a person who tends to be quite shy with new people, this in my mind is a very good thing!

After our makeshift dinner and great conversation, we made our way to the Colosseum to find our seats for the concert, and ended up connecting with more friendly, chatty people in the seats next to us. I love Windsorites!

The concert itself was a lot of fun (though we both wished there’d been more bluegrass and less new country), and afterwards we slowly made our way through the crowds, past the hundreds of blinking machines, and back to our car.

It’s been awhile since we’ve been to a concert. Until quite recently, Victoria didn’t have a particularly good venue for larger concerts, plus the fact that the city was located on an island meant that many acts finished off their tours in Vancouver and didn’t bother making the trek across on the ferry for one more show. And for us as Victoria residents, taking our vehicle to an event in Vancouver meant round-trip ferry fares of more than $150 and around 3 hours (each way) in travel time, plus the cost of an overnight stay, which meant that the price of the actual event tickets ended up being the least of our financial concern.

One of the things we love about being in Windsor is having a venue so close to home that gives us the opportunity to see lots of great acts. If we wanted to cross the border to Detroit, that would open up a whole lot of additional shows, and even a drive to Toronto would in all likelihood be far less expensive than taking a trip from Victoria to Vancouver (particularly considering the fact that you’d have the option to return home immediately after the show, assuming you wanted to drive into the night, whereas the chance of catching the last ferry back home after a concert in Vancouver would be highly unlikely, forcing a costly overnight stay).

Now finally, to answer the question that may (or may not!) be burning in your mind: Yes, technically, we are both still casino newbies, as we didn’t succumb to the temptation to play any of the games. In all honesty, it wasn’t actually a temptation for me – I’m far too fond of spending my money on something I can actually see and hold to let it go on the off-chance that I might win something!

But we had a lot of fun anyway, and we will definitely be back next time one of our favourites is in town.

Laurel Storey, CZT – Certified Zentangle Teacher. Writer, reader, tangler, iPhoneographer, cat herder, learner of French and Italian, crocheter, needle felter, on-and-off politics junkie, 80s music trivia freak, ongoing work in progress.