Remember Sahara for parties til dawn

May 17, 2011 6:00 AM

It seems the older we get the more we say good-bye. It’s not always easy. Sometimes it is painful. Often it leaves a void in our life. And it is definitely a jolting reminder that – despite all our efforts and wishes – nothing stays the same.

We didn’t go to the Sahara Hotel during its last weeks of operation. We chose, instead, to remember it the way it was when we first came to town in the early 1970s – bustling, exciting and full of life.

Back then it was owned by Del Webb, one-time owner of the New York Yankees, builder of Bugsy Siegel’s Las Vegas Flamingo and the real estate developer who gave us Sun City, Ariz.

The Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon was held at the hotel every year. It brought in thousands of visitors and much attention for our city on national television.

Every casino had a lounge with live entertainment back then. The last set might be scheduled for 2 a.m., but often the party lasted until dawn. And it was not uncommon, even in the 70s, for the top showroom entertainers to stop by the lounge, mingle with the guests and maybe sing a song or tell a joke.

The late Chuck DiRocco knew many of the entertainers, and yours truly often listened with rapture as friends such as Paul Anka, Connie Francis, Louis Prima, Keely Smith and Sam Butera told stories of the Sahara and other casinos during the golden 50s and 60s.

The days were more carefree then, the parties seemed unending and the excitement of having drinks or dinner or just coffee with the stars was priceless. What memories!

But now it’s time to say good-bye. Another piece of Old Vegas has slipped away. We will miss it.

CASSIDYMANIA: Although the heartthrob of the 1970s "Partridge Family" television show tried for many years to out run his teen idol image, it seemed as though the 61-year-old David Cassidy had come to terms with it at The Orleans recently.

During the 90 minute performance he embraced that image and told the near-capacity crowd he was there to sing what made him happiest – his own songs. The response he received reassured him that’s exactly what the audience wanted to hear, too.

And, in true teen idol worshiping fashion, shortly after the opening number ladies (and a few men) started getting out of their seats and heading down the aisles. (This included the petite, grey-haired woman seated next to us. She turned to her friend saying, "I’m not going to miss this," and headed toward the front at a fairly fast pace considering she left her cane at her seat.) They stood in front of the stage for the remainder of the show clapping to the beat, waving Cassidy memorabilia they had brought with them, and jockeying for position in order to touch the hand of the Great One as he strolled across the stage.

Cassidy soaked up all of this idolatry and happily shook hands, looked at the mementos, and chatted with a number of people throughout the show. He even sang "Happy Birthday" to one lucky lady.

It was a fun evening of good old fashioned entertainment and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

See you around town.