It all started in September 2014, when Amy of FYAVBC came to visit San Francisco with her husband. We all met up at our local SFFYA stomping grounds, and Gussy, now of Charleston, SC (but also, SFFYA for life! There's no escape!), mentioned that she'd be moving to South Carolina soon, and perhaps we should all just hang out in Las Vegas during spring break.
I sent out an email in December to the other book club leaders, and six months later, noble representatives from five clubs -- and two countries! -- were hanging out by the pool and eating all the food our little hearts desired in hot, dirty* Las Vegas. No one could believe it was really happening, and yet, there we were.
But wait. Would everyone get along? Would our tickets to Chippendales be worth the money? What should we do? Where should we go? And would we all be friends by the end of the trip?
I shouldn't have worried. Like our drunk unicorn logo, Forever Young Adult is magical.
Our theme song, sung to the tune of O Canada (lyrics by Annie of San Francisco, CA) / Our mascot, obvs.
Most people arrived on Friday, and the day was a flurry of introductions, getting people checked in, and, of course, hanging out by the pool. Each person received a VIP badge, made by San Francisco's Token Boy, which served as both a nametag for those who hadn't met, and a prop to pretend that we were there for a purpose beyond drinking and hollering at nearly-naked men.
Each badge has a different cocktail-and-YA-themed tagline (Amy's here is Days of Bourbon and Starlight, mine is I Capture The Cocktails, someone else has Code Name: Cocktails, and so on) - and they are with love from SFFYA!
When everyone was suitably sunned and subsequently sparkled up, we made our way to The Mirage for a buffet that included crab, prime rib, and all-you-can-drink beer and wine. (This is FYA, after all.) Of course, when you've got ten people trying to get across the Strip, there is only one option: a stretch limo.
At dinner, we traded "getting to know you" questions, written on the back of Cosmo Girl hunk Valentines (provided by Mandy W.!). Questions like "who is the most doable Disney prince(ss)" and "what is your best revenge story" earned us strange looks from the people near us, but nothing like the looks we got when Amy (Vancouver, BC) and Gussy (Charleston, SC) pulled out inflatable unicorn horns.
You'd swear that in this land of debauchery, no one had ever seen a unicorn horn before, or at least that was the reaction Amy and I got while graciously providing people with our presence in their photos. (Some may call that photobombing.) One gentleman, taking photos with his iPad at the Venetian, came over, showed us our photo, and gave us a thumbs-up.
A lot of people asked us about the "significance" of the unicorn horns, or why we were wearing them. Answers varied depending on the relative douchiness of the questioner.
By the end of the night, we started breaking into song on moving sidewalks, including one perfect moment where another group of girls going the opposite direction joined us in our rendition of "I Want It That Way."
Soulmates, all of these people.
Saturday was the day we had all been waiting for: CHIPPENDALES. After a difficult day of lounging by the pool, eating unhealthily, drinking champagne, and napping, we headed over to the Canadian Suite for Natalie (Vancouver) to help us with our makeup and hair. Once everyone was dressed up and ready to be a true patron of the arts, we headed over to the Rio and grabbed a quick bite before the show. (I had a hot dog for thematic purposes.) No one was really sure what we were getting into (including Mandy W. and I, who did a lot of research when she visited me in October), but we put our game faces on and went into the theatre.
Let's just say that we are all very fondly reminiscing about that most glorious hour and fifteen minutes of our lives. It was like Magic Mike with none of the plot and all of the themed dancing (although no one really approached Channing Tatum's level of skill, but then again, no one really looked like a thumb, either). I half-expected my abs to look like theirs by the time we left, due to all the laughing, and I was legitimately suprised that I had a voice after all of the hooting and hollering.
Quoth Mandy W.: "I never thought I would be a woo girl, but wooooo!"
What we thought was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience has now become part of the yearly schedule. WORTH IT.
And there was no way we were leaving without a souvenir photo. Please note that even the Chippendales want to be unicorns.
The night ended with some rooftop dancing at the Voodoo Lounge -- sure, the view wasn't quite as spectacular as what we'd just witnessed, but no one complained.
Britt (San Francisco, CA) and Natalie also got glittering gold tattoos reminiscent of The Winner's Crime. What, you thought this trip was only about booze and dancing men?
Sunday was the day most people left us (making for some teary goodbyes) -- by the time the night was over, only our two Vancouver ladies, Brooke (Columbus, OH), and I were left standing. Or more accurately, lounging around, playing Cards Against Humanity, and trying to finish off all the booze that people bought and we couldn't let go to waste. (Did not happen.)
We redecorated our rooms with the posters Mandy W. brought / What is that Chippendale doing to the Pinnacle bottle?
Before we said goodbye to Mandy W., though, we went on the New York, NY rollercoaster, left our mark on a chalkboard, and ate some ridiculous gelato.
#FYADoesVegas and #buttsbuttsbutts were the official hashtags / If you can't bring your inflatable unicorn horn on the rollercoaster, make your own!
When Monday rolled around, the last of us ate at a ridiculous brunch buffet and then said goodbye, promising to do this again next year.
I say this with all sincerity: it's a testament to the people that FYA book clubs attract, that ten people, many of whom had never met, all got along famously. We're planning to send snail mail, and our Twitter feeds have been rife with fond recollections. I found "my people" with SFFYA, but I never expected to also find my people in other clubs. From Forever Fest to FYA Does Vegas to just people meeting up with us when they visit our towns, I always have such a blast with these people, and I hope your clubs are just the same!
Next year: we're doing this again. Want to join us? We'll send out an email to the book club leaders, but you can always leave a comment and let us know that you want to be in the loop, too. Don't have a book club? Check out our locations worldwide, or start your own!
* When I say dirty, I mean good lord, even if you don't wear sandals your feet will end up black by the end of the day.
Thanks to everyone who came for helping provide the photos!