Minneapolis to Des Moines 281 miles.
Wednesday AM Karen picked up our van from St. Louis Park. It’s big. The ceiling is high. Matt can stand up inside and he’s a pretty tall guy. We took out the back seats and filled up the car with our gear, clothes, food, and foam rollers. Wheels up for Des Moines at 11.
En route, we listened to the Insecure soundtrack, both seasons; snacked on jelly beans, gold fish, and string cheese; and started tweeting. Margaret told us a mean joke about what Iowa stands for – idiots out walkin’ around. She’s from Missouri.
No problems on the road we arrived in Des Moines right on time, checked into our AirBNB and headed over to the Gas Lamp. Antonio, the sound guy, met us and we loaded in. This guy Jeff was smoking and drinking in the parking lot when we rolled up. He helped us carry in our gear, but then was trying to jam with us on his base. The staff at the venue asked him to leave, which was okay with us.
Matt bought some bitcoin for fun.
The Gas Lamp is a pretty cool spot. Band stickers everywhere. Vintage concert posters, but not from shows at the venue. There was a big taxidermy elk hanging over the door to a room with a pool table. There was a flickering Hamm’s sign that we were all pretty into.
The stage was wide, and had a good amount of space for the choreography. Even better, Margaret’s parents came all the way from Jefferson City, MO to see DaNCEBUMS.
We hadn’t been able to run the show in a while, but because we are professionals it went great. There were maybe 40 people in the audience. Openers Paige Harpin Group were tight. They had some cool coozies at the merch table – we gotta do that too. Big thanks to Paige, Dustin from the Maytags, and the Des Moines Girl Gang for sponsoring.
Afterwards, Eben and Margaret went table to table giving away stickers and doing some informal marketing research. People were enthusiastic about the show. One audience member pulled out his iPhone and bookmarked dancebums.com right then. Another said that she had danced all through college be decided not to pursue it as a career. She asked us if we know about the show The OA and we told here that we do an OA parody dance called This one is for if you like watching Netflix and stuff.
For dinner after the show we went to a ramen spot called Crunkwhich. Yum. Outside the restaurant there was a couple taking photos and Eric ran up to them. They gave them the camera and he started snapping. The next day they followed us on Instagram – apparently they had just splurged on a 5-course meal and were having a romantic and spontaneous date night when we arrived on the scene.
Des Moines to Iowa City. 115 miles.
Some of us woke up early and exercised, but pretended like we weren’t when local teens walked by. Other’sher folks slept in. The drive time to Iowa City was just about two hours, so we had plenty of time to take it easy and have a gentle morning.
We stopped a few places looking for postcards to send home to friends – the hardware store, CVS – and when we kept striking out we did what anyone would do: turned to Google. We called a local gift shop to ask if they had postcards before heading over to buy them. “Postcards, no I don’t think we have them because I’ve never heard of them.” We eventually found postcards at a truck stop – you can get all kinds of stuff there.
Iowa City is a cute college town. The frat houses are really nice, very castle like. Before we could check into our AirBNB we had some time to browse very boutique-y vintage shops, make sandwiches, shop at the co-op, and stop but the library for some free internet.
Check in was easy. The house is a little tight, but it has a baby grand piano and beds so we are good to go.
Unfortunately, the day took a turn when we started our load in at The Mill. We left a key piece of equipment behind – Eric’s synthesizer Gaia. Door opened in less than two hours – there was no way we could make it to Des Moines and back in time. Our spirits definitely took a hit. Laughter and smiles quickly turned to silence and furrowed eyebrows.
Karen and Eric got on the phone, contacting the Gas Lamp and all our contacts in Des Moines. The staff at The Mill were so helpful, they connected us with a local musician who lent us the gear we needed for the night (thanks Alex), the energy rebounded and the show went smoothly after that.
The audience was small but mighty. Everyone was able to introduce themselves to everyone else. There was something special about having such an intimate experience. An almost secret show to delight the few willing Iowans willing to take a chance.
After the show we loaded out quickly an efficiently.
The staff The Mill talked to us about how much they appreciated seeing something different, and invited us to come back in the spring – or whenever we wanted.
We said goodbye to Karen and Eric as they headed back to Des Moines to retrieve Gaia. Maggie got dropped off at the AirBNB while Kara, Margaret, Toby, Eben, and Matt teamed up with Bob the sound guy and a few other locals to see what Iowa City had to offer.
First stop: The Yacht Club. When we arrived at this nautical dive there was already a line of plastic shot glasses waiting for us. Down below, there was a jam band playing. Anyone could sign up to play, so of course we singed up Toby but then left before he did. Eben dared Margaret to put up one of our stickers behind the band between songs, and she did. Nobody seemed to care or even notice. The band played a cover of “Get Low” by Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz. That was fun. Then we left.
Next stop: Gabe’s. This venue was huge. There was another band from Minneapolis playing here, Dead Larry. The lighting here was very intense. They had these robotic cyclops lights that spun, and flashed, and changed colors. We didn’t stay here too long because it was getting late. Just long enough for Sam our bartender from The Mill to show up and offer to buy us a round. Because we are responsible and polite we thanked him but said no. We danced a bit. Took a photo with Bob and hugged him goodbye.
Last stop: the AirBNB. We Lyfted home and drank a bunch of water, ate some snacks, talked outside (hope we weren’t too loud), then went to bed.