I actually wasn’t single when I pitched the idea of matching with men on Tinder in order to have them show me locals-only haunts in Las Vegas. Perhaps unsurprisingly, by the time I was on the plane out west, I was. Which helped. In every sordid little stint on dating apps I’ve ever pulled, I consistently come across dudes visiting New York making some version of the same request: “Show me around?” or “Looking for a beautiful tour guide.” My gut reaction to bios like those was always a firm, derisive left swipe. Why would anyone want to spend a trip talking to a stranger? I thought. Ew!
I Explored Las Vegas by Going on Tinder Dates With Local Dudes
When confronted with Las Vegas, the famously cool den of depravity that I had never before visited, I finally understood the business trippers and solo travelers looking for generous permanent residents. I was wrong to be scornful of the people who were s;re single, the best way to get to know a new place is to have someone cute take you somewhere cool that you wouldn’t find out about otherwise. In retrospect, it’s so obvious.
Of course, consummate professional that I am, I wasn’t looking for love on my Tinder tour de Vegas-I was looking for content. So I plastered the fact that I was a journalist looking to explore the city onto my Tinder bio and swiped right rapid-fire on anyone who had “Vegas local” in theirs. After wading through a handful of people who wanted to go on an actual date (fair enough), I locked in meetups with three guys who both seemed normal and promised to show me un-Googleable Vegas hotspots. Notepad in my hand and my heart in my mouth, I headed to Sin City ready to see some deeply weird shit and maybe do a smidge of sinning myself.
Date Number One: Mountain Springs Saloon/Las Vegas Alamo Casino
Cam, age unlisted, was the first and best candidate for this story. Clean-cut, responsive, and smiley, not only did he immediately and enthusiastically respond to my Tinder DM, he emailed me a five-part itinerary within hours. I love a hustler! We narrowed our agenda down to two of his five suggested spots. First, we’d meet at Mountain Springs Saloon, an all-day biker bar 30 minutes from the Strip, and then we’d head to Las Vegas Alamo Casino/TA Travel Center, a truck stop, convenience store, and gas station with fully operational table games-a one-of-a-kind location, according to Cam.
Cam ended up being a 23-year-old with distinction: He is one of the youngest commercially certified hot air balloon pilots in the world. He arrived at our date with his hair slicked down, wearing black chinos and a maroon button-up bearing the logo of the hot air balloon tour company he co-owned, the aptly named Vegas Balloon Rides. As a hot air balloon pilot, Cam told me that he works unorthodox hours: To catch the sunrise over the Mojave Desert while in the air, he needs to wake up at around 2:30 a.m. in order to International dating app get ready, commute to the flying area, and set up the balloon for his passengers. This means that he normally goes to bed at what must be a frankly boner-killing 5:30 or 6 in the evening.
Cam and I met in the front room of Mountain Springs Saloon a little past his bedtime: 5:45 p.m. With him was his friend/pilot trainee Amanda, a 40-something woman with bubblegum-pink curls and an infectiously chill demeanor who said she was in town to see Cam and log some flying time. She milled around respectfully while Cam and I started our date in the bar’s outdoor seating space. The backyard sprawled, featuring mismatched patio furniture for guests’ sitting comfort, sun-bleached landscape rocks that crunched underfoot, a permanent food trailer peddling generic fast food and Mexican fare, and-perplexingly-a koi pond. Cam told me Mountain Springs is where he brings his balloon passengers post-flight (so, around 10 a.m.) if they want to “keep the party going.”