Now that we know where Chantal and Mace stand, let's see how Chantal will go about fixing the entertainment at the casino. Enjoy!
Hustle Into Love
* * * * *
After five days in Macau, Chantal had seen more faded casino tables, poorly lit stages and rude cab drivers than she thought anyone should ever have to see. But she knew if she was to do a proper job for Lì, she had to understand what the competition was up to.
That first night she’d slept hard, jet lag and exhaustion catching up with her. Even the sultry dream about dancing naked with Mace on the stage of the Moulin Rouge hadn’t disturbed her. Though it had made her awaken with a smile. In her dreams, baby brother really knew how to do the hustle!
She’d eaten her breakfast at the casino’s big buffet—did the Chinese really enjoy looking at raw dead fish heads in the morning? And just what the hell was that beigey-green fruit with the black specks in it? She’d been afraid to ask. No matter how many times she visited Asia, the food always took a while to get used to. Especially if you were not a morning person.
After her adventurous meal, she’d spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon plotting out her next few days. Then, after a quick chicken salad as a late lunch, she grabbed her map, hailed a taxi, and one at a time, visited all the big casinos in town.
She stayed away from the casinos that Lì had told her didn’t have live entertainment. Instead she went straight to the more popular venues. She hit the famous Sands Casino down by Fisherman’s Wharf and the MGM near the Macau Science Museum. She spent time in Macau’s oldest gaming establishiment—the brightly lit Lisboa, and across the street at the high stakes Wynn Casino. She scoped out the size of the stages, the sightlines and the lighting setups. She listened to the music, both canned and live and made copious notes in her little black notebook.
After the second day, when she was recognized and suddenly surrounded by excited fans, she remembered the word she’d mentioned to Mace that first day she arrived. Incognito. A quick stop at a specialty wig shop covered her signature blonde tresses and dark glasses hid her famous eyes. Jeans and a T-shirt did the rest and she snickered as she slipped into the Venetian to listen to the evening’s bar entertainment. Now she had another new word of the day.
Not that she felt bad spying on the competition. It was just the way it worked. She often saw her competitors trying to blend in with the audience during one of her shows. And it tickled her to call them out and introduce them. Especially if they were in some sort of silly disguise.
After she’d seen someone, it usually wasn’t long before one of her fancy dance moves ended up on the competitor’s dance card. Lì would stomp and shout at the thievery, but, Chantal would just laugh. She figured it was a kind of compliment. And since she knew she danced those same moves a lot better, why make a fuss?
But she wouldn’t be doing any thievery of her own. Not in that way at least. Chantal was creative enough on her own. She didn’t need to steal ideas. And what she’d seen, while well performed, still wasn’t up to her exacting standards. Oh, the Sands had a great Michael Jackson impersonator, one of the best she’d ever seen, but other than a lounge singing act at the Wynn and a pretty damn good dance team at the City of Dreams, Flame Bar, she knew what she could come up with would be much better.
Each night she sat through one her competitor’s performances, watching and listening. The Macau people had their own way of entertaining their casino guests, but they leaned heavily on the American music scene. Chantal could work with that. And most of the dances were identical to the style of the big Las Vegas casinos. All fancy costumes and big flair.
And while she herself had danced that way many, many times at places in Vegas as noteworthy as the Mirage, the Bellagio and the Luxor, she wanted something different for Lì’s casino. Since The Golden Tiger was out of the ordinary, so would be the entertainment.
Now, she just had to make it happen.
* * * * *
Yet two days later when she stood in the back of the practice hall where The Golden Tiger’s main act was practicing their latest dance, she wondered if, for the first time in her life, she’d bitten off more than she could chew.
They were bad. Really bad. In fact if she were to use one of her words of the day, Chantal would say they were atrocious. She’d hoped the three different acts she’d seen while she was scoping out the casino undercover were just unhappy coincidences, but now…after seeing them practice, she knew the truth.
They just sucked.
There were eight dancers. All women. And while a couple of them had raw talent, the others looked more like chickens running around with their heads cut off. It was almost embarrassing. The man waving his hands around up on the stage was, according to her employee files, the choreographer, Chin Zhao. And if what she was seeing showed off his expertise, then she was in more trouble than she’d thought.
But for the moment, she sat quietly as Chin put the ladies through their paces. And the longer she sat and watched, the more obvious it became that Lì had been right. No wonder he’d called for her help. This was a problem of major proportions. These dancers didn’t just suck, they sucked big time. To infinity and beyond.
After about a half hour, she couldn’t take it anymore. She had to do something and now! This wasn’t the first time she’d stepped in and taken over a troupe. Far from it. Chantal had revamped many a failing dance act. Yet she knew it wouldn’t be easy. No one liked change. In a few minutes she was going to be mighty unpopular. But if she wanted to get this entertainment department shaped up, she had to start somewhere.
She stood up. “Excuse me.”
Chin Zhao whirled around, a prissy little man in a beige and purple sweat outfit. He frowned when he saw her and flicked his hands in a shooing motion. “This is closed rehearsal,” he said in broken English. “Go away. I call security.”
Ignoring him, she walked down the aisle. “Is this the same routine you performed last night? Because if it is, it’s gonna need a lot more work.”
His eyes sparkled angrily. “I say go away. Who you think you are?”
“I think I’m your new boss,” she responded mildly. “I’m Chantal Montgomery.”
There was a pregnant moment of silence, then the dancers all broke into sudden chatter. Their musical voices sounded like exotic birds in the small of the room. Chin Zhao looked as if he was going to have apoplexy. He gaped at Chantal.
“You? You are Chantal? The famous Chantal?”
She nodded as she stepped onto the stage. “I’m sure you were informed I was coming.”
Chin opened and closed his mouth, looking very much like the carp in the gardens outside the casino. “Yes. But you are figurehead. Not really here to do anything. You too famous.”
Chantal frowned. “You think just because I’m famous I’m not going to stay here and run this department?” At his swift nod, she snorted. “You’ve got a lot to learn about me, Chin. I’ve made a promise to make the entertainment at The Golden Tiger the best in Macau and I always keep my promises.” She pushed up her sleeves and glanced around at the open-mouthed dancers.
“So, let’s get going, shall we?”
Hmmm....looks like there's trouble a brewing in the entertainment division. I can only wonder what Chantal will do next!
Don't forget to check out my Chat blog. Yesterday I chatted about seeing a movie, Asian style and tomorrow I talk a little about celebrating Thanksgiving in another country. So check them both out at http://cjslivingdreams.blogspot.com/
And I'll see you back here on Thursday for the second of the week's installments.
Follow Your Dreams