Julie Brewer was the soul of Las Vegas — without her, the city feels empty

Julie Brewer by Geoff Carter
Photo by Geoff Carter

I must have been 16 when I first met Julie Brewer. She was the coolest chick in the world, as far as I was concerned. With her long, dark tresses flowing behind her, she brought such an energy and joy to the garden cafe she’d created behind the soon-to-be-defunct Vintage Madness, which we would all come to know as Enigma.

As much as we supported Julie and Enigma, she supported us. Her mere existence injected this city with a tangible force whose effects are still being felt today.

When Enigma closed — after expanding to three buildings with the help of Lenadams Dorris — it didn’t matter how long the time between our meetings or chance run-ins; Julie was still there, arms open.

More than a few years ago, I started work on a book about the Vegas underground scene. Julie and I met to discuss it. She loved the idea. She was more excited about it than was I. Selflessly, thoughtfully and without provocation, Julie bestowed upon me a very special item — a clock suspended within a birdcage (get it?), which used to hang inside Enigma. She remembered how much I loved it. I barely did, as those days were hazy flashes of memory for me. But she remembered, and she gave me a piece of Enigma. She gave me a piece of herself.

We were supposed to meet again, to talk about her memories, her impressions, her experiences. We both got busy. She was a mother and a wife, and she helped spark what became Las Vegas’ most prominent cultural feature, First Friday. I had my own projects, as well as momentous personal shakeups. Julie and I never met again to talk about “the old days.”

I saw her about once a month, usually at First Friday, and though our words were brief, she always seemed genuinely interested in my life. And proud. She seemed so proud, like a big sister. Like the coolest chick in the world, with her permanent dark glasses and cigarette and disaffected gaze.

And then … I didn’t see her again.

These words aren’t perfect. They aren’t expressing accurately how I feel. For her family. For her friends. For myself, this city, everything. My stomach is in knots. My eyes are…needing to cry, but won’t.

I don’t think I’ve been this shocked by a death in a while. It kind of knocked the wind out of me.

There are so many feelings, conflicting anger and sadness and disbelief kicking around, I’m not sure what to do about it, save for write this unfitting tribute. I just don’t know what else to do.

4 Responses to “Julie Brewer was the soul of Las Vegas — without her, the city feels empty”

  1. Leana Hildebrand says:

    beautifully said. My cousin Denise worked for Julie for some time and I think she would agree. Great gal, great boss and beautifully said. There are no right or words when someone that touched our lives leaves us.I am not even sure if this is a word but again I say beautifully said.

  2. Thanks so much. It’s bizarre how much of an impact Julie’s passing had on myself and especially a lot of my friends…

  3. […] the monthly art walk and street fair — yes, it has been six years since Cindy Funkhouser and Julie Brewer (rest her soul) first brewed up Las Vegas’ longest-running cultural event. So get downtown on […]

  4. Its hard to belive youve been
    gone two years now. And it still feels like
    it just happened. I miss you terribly.
    I love you julie “pineapple head”
    derek m