Dress code for casino may start whole new trend

Atlantic City has once again outmaneuvered Nevada on the key question of "What should we wear to the casino tonight, dear?"

Yes, it's true. The Tropicana in Atlantic City, N.J., has set a dress code for people who come to its new retail and entertainment center, called The Quarter.

"The Quarter is fast becoming the hippest place to hang out in Atlantic City," Dennis Gomes, president of resort operations for Aztar Corp., Tropicana's parent company, told the Associated Press. "Our guests arrive fashionably dressed and we want to maintain that level of sophistication."

It's a good thing they didn't name it The Nickel. Or, worse yet, The Penny.

The Tropicana folks won't actually keep you out of the casino if you come dressed in your baggy shorts and "Elvis Lives!" vintage T-shirt. They're not stupid. They just don't want you and your smelly sneakers hanging around the upper crusty types in the restaurants and shops.

I was disappointed when I found out the dress code doesn't apply to the slot machines and blackjack tables. I thought it would be a radically good idea to start upgrading the standards of dress among us commoners, and not just in the casinos.

It seems Resorts International, the first New Jersey casino, tried in 1978 to require men to wear sports jackets. Apparently they thought they could corner the market on James Bond wannabes. Alas, it didn't last.

Now casinos patrons more commonly look like Sammy Hagar wannabes. (Not that I think Sammy is a shabby dresser or anything. But he does tend to favor the shaggy look. When he dresses up, as far as I can tell, that means matching T-shirt and clamdiggers.)

Anyway, the whole idea of gloss and glamour at casinos has been lost in favor of the casual look. And I mean real casual. As in I-just-woke-up-from-a-nap-and-had-to-run-to-Wal-Mart-for-cat-food casual.

At one time, at least in the movies, people stood around craps tables in evening gowns and tuxedos, sipping martinis and blinding each other with their jewelry. Now, the movies show Randy Quaid in his flip-flops.

OK, maybe it's just the casinos I've seen. Maybe somewhere on an upper floor with a private elevator, elegant people are tossing dice elegantly. But down on the floor, well, we're rubbin' elbows in our holey jeans and the Hawaiian shirt that Uncle Sid tried to throw out in 1985.

Don't think I'm picking on the casinos, though. The trend is everywhere.

Remember when people dressed up to take an airplane flight? Hah.

Now I'm happy when the person next to me at least had the good sense to put on sweats. I figure the next step is simply to come straight from home in pajamas and slippers because, heck, they're just going to go back to sleep anyway. Wake me in Omaha.

If you're Michael Jackson, of course, pajamas apparently are what you wear to court. The rest of us would be wearing prison stripes by now.

In the grocery store, for some reason, I'm put off my appetite by the sight of kids in saggy diapers waddling their way down the aisles. Actually, I'm put off my appetite by the sight of pretty much anybody waddling down the aisle in saggy diapers. That goes especially for teenage boys who believe the waistline on their jeans should fall halfway to their knees.

Thankfully, lots of people still dress up to go to church. But a lot of people also have arrived at the conclusion God will forgive them for wearing whatever they darn well please on Sunday morning. They're right. God will forgive them. Their neighbors, I'm not so sure.

Before anybody gets the wrong idea, I'm not a dress-up kind of guy. I appreciate my bluejeans and T-shirts as much as the next Nevadan. I have yet to wear a tuxedo in the 21st century.

But I also have clothes I would not wear outside the house. Dress for the occasion, I say. The distinction can be pretty simple: Will anyone else see me? If yes, then go on to the next question: Would these clothes be rejected by the FISH thrift store?

At the Tropicana's upscale center, the list of inappropriate items includes baggy jeans, work boots or work shoes, T-shirts, and "inappropriate athletic gear."

I don't see how they're going to define those terms. For example, on some people baggy jeans would be much preferred to tight jeans. You know the people I mean. They look like their stomachs are trying to escape over their belts.

Work boots? Work shoes? Maybe if manure is actually visible on them.

Inappropriate athletic gear - are they talking about jock straps? Spikes? Swimsuits? Football helmets? Or maybe they'd ask you to leave if they caught you wearing a Chiefs hat over a Raiders jersey over 49ers sweatpants.

I do feel sorry for the bouncers who will be expected to enforce the dress code at the Tropicana. Wouldn't whatever they're wearing have to be considered work clothes?

n Barry Smith is editor of the Nevada Appeal. Contact him at editor@nevada appeal.com or 881-1221.


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