If you’re a Vegas-goer, even in a past life, you’re familiar with TAO. It’s one of the cookie-cutter, over-the-top, spend-too-much-money Vegas clubs we’re all used to.

One thing TAO is known for is having bathtubs full of rose petals. There are two potential reasons to having these tubs:

  1. Lounging area for sexy girls to dance and wash themselves with rose petals.
  2. Subtle symbolism with a connection to Laozi’s legendary Tao.

I’m an advocate for the sexy girls. It’s not the classiest thing in the world, but from a greenback and customer happiness perspective, I understand.

Regarding the symbolism, how could we possibly link Taoism with TAO the Nightclub? Are they even supposed to be related?

First reaction is probably a hard no — Dear God, I hope they’re not related.

Let’s propose a question:

If the Vegas rose petal bathtubs were to symbolize some teachings from the Tao Te Ching, what would that be?

If you’re a studier of the Tao, just think about it for two and a half minutes. If you don’t give a f@#$ about the Tao, but want to hear me try to make this connection, read on.

The Tao teaches a lot — compassion, humility, flow, oneness. Each concept is so deep, and I’m doing it zero, maybe even negative, justice here. This post isn’t going to explain the Tao. If you’re interested, I have another post here where I give it a brief introduction.

Let’s get slightly abstract. I’ll try to do the best I can with words.

Everything in our universe comes from, and is a part of, the Tao. This includes all physical things like your pet goldfish, and all spiritual intangibles that you think about before going to bed.

An important Tao lesson is acting with non-discrimation. Easier said than done.

When people see some things as beautiful,
Other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
Other things become bad.
(Tao Te Ching, Chapter 2)

Dualistic thinking is a part of life. Being thin is beautiful, so being obese is ugly. Ad infinitum.

The Tao recommends that we limit our dualistic thinking when it comes to our everyday lives.

Limit, but not completely block out.

Practically speaking, there are parts of life where we have to use judgement to make informed decisions. To survive physically and intellectually in this world, we must participate in some dualistic thinking. Everything can’t just be equal.

If you’re new to the Tao — bear with me here. The flip side of the physical world is the spiritual world which some refer to as the essence. It’s super fluffy, but this is Bruce Lee’s flow like water.

The physical world is the manifestation of the Tao and it’s everything we encounter in our lives. The day-to-day.

The spiritual side of the Tao is separate from the physical. In the spiritual realm, we do not discriminate. Judgements and biases that we’ve accumulated from the physical world have no place in the spiritual.

Both worlds are connected, but they are also distinctly separate. Yin and Yang shit.

Let’s agree that dualistic thinking can offer some good, but it can also easily lead to some bad. One important Tao teaching is to replace some of our judgments by approaching life with an appreciation for everything.

Everything can be beautiful. The overflowing trash can in your bathroom is magnificent.

Stay with me here. I’m slowly trying to lead this thought process to the Vegas tubs. I want to talk about a movie first.

American Beauty is a classic. It won five Academy Awards including Best Picture — no big deal.

Let me try to quickly summarize the movie if you haven’t seen it. It’s a satire on the American Dream. A seemingly happy and beautiful family is empty and filled with turmoil.

Lester Burnham, the father, describes himself as a loser. He has self-esteem issues and leads a boring life. His wife doesn’t have sex with him and ends up having an affair. The daughter is going through teenager problems. Damn.

I don’t know if this movie was meant to be related to the Tao at all, but it is certainly spiritual. The Taoist teaching we just talked about — appreciating even the little things — is a major theme during the movie.

Ricky, another character from American Beauty, sells pot and takes a bunch of footage with his camera. One of the scenes is Ricky showing a video of a white plastic bag moving through the wind.

Ricky takes footage like this to remind himself that there is incredible beauty in the world, even in the most mundane things.

During the movie, the antithesis to the plastic bag is the rose petal. No rocket science here, but the rose petal symbolizes beauty, love, etc. Lester, the father, becomes infatuated with his daughter’s friend and associates rose petals with her. Pretty cliche symbolism here, but roses are a major part of the movie.

Frank Underwood used to be soft!

The major arch of the movie tracks Lester going from rose petal infatuation to appreciating the beauty all around him.

It’s hard to stay mad, when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst… And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold onto it…

Major levels of Tao and spiritual connections here.

Here is Lester fantasizing about his daughter’s friend, Laura, being in a bath tub full of roses.

Bath tub!

This scene was Lester’s fantasy — not real life — and we can finally tie our thoughts back to Vegas. I might be overthinking this, but I believe TAO’s petal tubs were placed purposefully.

The bathtubs symbolize fantasy. A Vegas nightclub is not real life.

On the surface, the bathtubs with the dancing girls are just a tourist attraction. Makes total sense.

On a slightly deeper level, the tubs remind us to stay grounded and acknowledge what’s fantasy and what’s not. Very specific things, like girls in a bathtub, are not the only sources of beauty. We can find beauty anywhere.

I’m positive that the people behind TAO know this.

This is an old banner for the nightclub. The company doesn’t include the Chinese character anymore in their branding, but it is the same character for Taoism.

I’m not sure if the Religious Nightlife branding did well. I’m pretty sure they axed that.

Anyways, the creators of TAO were not huge trolls using Asian culture to sell club tickets. Well, maybe a little bit. They were aware of Taoism, just as I believe the creators of American Beauty were aware of it.

A rose petal bathtub is a fantasy for the club goers. It was also Lester’s fantasy in the movie.

I believe, I hope, that the point of the tubs is not just to make us gawk, but to also keep us cognizant of the beauty everywhere. We will acknowledge that fantasy is fantasy. We will appreciate the little things.

I just overthought the shit out of these bathtubs.