It started with 1,500 people who were mostly strangers, now each year 20,000 of them come together as a community in Las Vegas, Nevada, to hand jive, lindy hop, twist and stroll, dress in decades old vintage fashion, sit poolside at the tiki bar in pin-up style bathing suits à la Jane Russell, Bettie Paige, Eartha Kitt or Jayne Mansfield.
Visitors take in a burlesque performance, scout out hot rods in cuffed jeans, Hawaiian shirts and pompadour hairdos and listen to a lot of 50s rock and roll and rockabilly music.
Lovers of 50s culture from all around the world, across the United States and the local Las Vegas area gather for Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend. Over the weekend, fans get to choose from around 100 bands from more than 20 countries around the world.
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend organizers say that they’ve brought together more original 1950’s acts in one place than any other event ever has. They’ve claimed the title of Longest Running Music Festival in Las Vegas.
What started out as a party with bands and cars 25 years ago grew into a worldwide community that has resulted in friendships, marriages, business growth, exposure for musicians, performers, tattoo artists, pin-up models, and memorable moments in music history. The festival has made it’s mark on thousands of people and is known as the Largest Rockabilly Event in the World.
Since Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend started the festival has played host to some of the most influential names in music. They hosted the last-ever public performance of eminent rock music pioneer Little Richard and other notable innovators and trendsetters of the genre such as Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Wanda Jackson, Dick Dale, Stray Cats, Brian Setzer, Reverend Horton and countless Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Rockabilly Hall of Fame inductees over the years.
For the more risqué, Burlesque events feature more avant-garde artists hosted by Dita Von Teese, John Waters, and drag king entertainer Murray Hill. There’s a marketplace of vendors with niche businesses onsite so that festival attendees can shop for vintage and reproduction clothing and fashion.
People get married, dance all night into the wee hours of the morning, go bowling, get a tattoo in the parlour, get your hair and makeup done to go to the Glamour Ball, listen to live music at on of six sages, meet new friends or shop for vintage memorabilia.
Cars are still a big part of the culture. They’ve set aside a special day to focus on vintage automobiles with the Viva Las Vegas Car Show where they showcase classic cars.
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend event organizers created opportunities for diverse groups within the community to socialize. Locations and times for LGBTQ+, sober people, people of colour, singles meetups and other groups are posted on their website.
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