LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world, but for almost a year it hasn't felt like that. Among performers, one thing is clear -- no one expected to be off the stage this long, and everyone is happy to be back.
"We are literally beside ourselves with joy," said Mariah Rivera, associate producer and feature dancer for Fantasy at the Luxor.
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After almost a year without the thrill of live entertainment, Strip performers are eager to be back.
"It's like being a football player in the Super Bowl," said longtime Strip headliner Carrot Top.
But reminders of why these entertainers were sidelined in the first place are all around.
"We're only allowed about a hundred people so I'm going to have more jokes than people," joked Carrot Top.
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Carrot Top and Fantasy are both reopening Friday at the Luxor, with strict COVID-19 protocols in place. Social distancing, sanitizing and mask-wearing are required for the audience and most of the performers.
"I had forgotten how hard it is to dance our show full out and you add the mask on top of it, and it's really good cardio," said Rivera. "We're going to be in shape!"
Next door at the Excalibur, Thunder from Down Under has been back on stage for about a month. But their audience recently expanded.
"It feels like a massive difference going from 50 people, it's such an intimate show, to 100 people, feels like a massive crowd now," said Liam Black, a dancer in the show. "Even though we still have a little further to go."
And while the Australian hotties would like to be able to take it a bit further on stage, strict social distancing keeps the striptease to a tease.
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"We're not allowed to go out into the crowd," Black said. "We're not allowed to dance on tables. We're not allowed to dance on grandmas."
But Black said not to worry, the thrill is still there.
"For a girl, it's still exciting," he said. "You can still get pulled up on stage."
Many more shows are set to reopen in the next month.