St. Charles, Mo. – The Nightclub at Ameristar Casino, just outside of St. Louis, was the most recent stop on the North American Scream Tour. It went like this:
1:30 p.m.: We wake up on the bus to rain, and outside the window is a giant casino awning. Good “morning,” St. Charles! KhoMha starts gathering his dirty clothes to send off for laundering, and as he returns from outside where his suitcase is stored, he shares, “Ugh, I just saw that black water from the bus.”
Markus cracks up, “The driver’s changing the generator oil—that’s not the black water!”
“I hope your black water isn’t literally black!” adds our tour manager.
Someone may have abused bus toilet privileges again, and the driver has to treat the bus with chemicals. But, we have hotel rooms to retreat to for the day.
4:00 p.m.: We stop in to check out the club after lunching in one of the resort’s restaurants. The nightclub inside Ameristar is another venue that is only open tonight to host the tour, and the room is once again being transformed. “Every day, it’s something new,” our lighting girl says with a wide smile, as she has to balance herself on the cushions of a VIP booth where the visuals’ control has been set up. “It’s such a strange situation. It challenges me, though, and makes me better at my job, for sure!”
5:30 p.m.: I don’t know anything about St. Charles, except that I was born in another one (Illinois). The Missouri River is rolling by our hotel window, it’s cold and rainy, and white flower petals are floating through the air. It’s just another unreal sight of North America that I wouldn’t have seen if it weren’t for this tour. I wish I had time to hit the indoor pool.
7:30 p.m.: The documentary crew interviews me. I’m a writer, not a speaker. The A/C is on, but I’m sweating with anxiety. (My performing arts degree keeps failing me this week!) We talk about the sense of family that has developed among the crew. People have come and gone, some will be coming back again. As of today, we have an 18-person crew on the two busses.
9:30 p.m.: I pick up a gift package that’s waiting at the front desk—Thanks, St. Louis Trance Family!—re-apply my lipstick, and head to the club, where we are each carded twice. I crack open a Red Bull. You can’t drink [alcohol] every night!
11:30 p.m.: As KhoMha wraps up his set, the club has become full of well-dressed, good-looking young people, just as you’d expect in a casino nightclub. All this place is missing to feel like Vegas is scantily dressed go-go dancers and confetti. Oh, wait, we brought that….
Midnight: Markus has another meet-&-greet in a back room, and a girl gets goosebumps. The gracious promoter asks again if we need anything, and our tour manager jokes that if we aren’t going to bother to drink on tour, then we can take over his job for the night and let him have some fun for once. Whatever. He won’t even rest for 15 minutes.
12:20 p.m.: Markus is behind the LED panels doing the Cabbage Patch to The M Machine’s “Shadow of a Rose Garden.” Ten minutes later, he takes over and blasts off the night. It’s New Year’s Eve all of a sudden. As usual, a lot of hands and camera phones are in the air… as well as a pair of heels. An electric wheelchair navigates one side of the dance floor, while a girl climbs onto someone’s shoulders across the way.
The show’s visuals are stunning and ever-evolving, as new content and creativity are developing each night. There are staples, too, like the lyrics to Markus’ tracks, and videos of his vocalists singing along.
2:30 a.m.: Markus gets on the mic to thank the crowd, “There are so many beautiful people here tonight!” (OK, it wasn’t just me.) He goes to the crowd after the music stops and the lights are up and, enveloped by fans, he makes sure he takes care of them once again, listening to their stories, taking pictures and signing more autographs. I run back to the room for another quick shower before having to give up the space.
5:00 a.m.: Like the explorers that were so much a part of St. Charles history—thanks, hotel info guide!—it is time for us to head into the great frontier with a freshly supplied wagon.
Next stop: Dallas…