I just got back from a few weeks of being on the JLo and Enrique “Dance Again” Tour; my first experience of being on the road! My beautiful artist, Starshell, is opening for them; a huge honor! We have only been on for a few weeks but it’s definitely been a very interesting ride! Here are some notes on what its been like:
Behind The Scenes: Arena hallways that normally stay clear for NBA and NHL stars and other professional athletes, are completely covered in endless rows of black tech. equipment cases, crates, rolling carts, boxes and rolling wardrobes (see Pic 2). Signs for rooms for the teams of headliners and openers alike are printed in black ink on 8½ x 11 colored sheets of paper in large Times New Roman font with a piece of scotch tape holding it up; JLo’s Dressing Room, Enrique Dancers, Starshell Bathroom, etc. Every twenty feet or so, you will see an arena employee usually with a red or purple jacket half-heartedly looking for credentials. As I suspected, there is nothing really glamorous going on back stage… although I did see a sign for massage sessions!
No Cars: Outside the arena, there are trucks, trucks and more trucks. They all begin loading in equipment at 6am. You wouldn’t believe how much “stuff” and “back up stuff” comes on these tours; stages, trusses, lights, smoke, sound equipment, monitors, furniture, wardrobes, wire fences (as in the case for JLo’s “Jenny From the Block” stage setup). The works! I expected to see Bentleys and Lamborghinis lined up in the loading dock but no such luck; big tour buses and mac trucks occupied every inch of space.
Food: There is one room designated for catering for all staff, dancers, managers, artist friends and family and anyone else on the tour. (I suspect that JLo and Enrique have their food delivered to their rooms but everyone else dines in this room.) I expected the food to be better; it’s somewhere between a hospital cafeteria and a mediocre conference buffet. There is usually your standard choice of meats, sides, salad, cheeses, desserts and beverages- soda, juice and water; not the top shelf open bar I was envisioning with a mixologist at my beck and call. The only “special” add-in I was surprised to see was a juicer and a basket full of veggies with a hand-written stained sign reading, “Please No Bananas or Berries”. There is no attention to décor or ambiance in the catering room; just the basics.
People: For the most part, people are very polite. If you are on the talent level of the venue then you probably have something to do with an artist so no one generally questions you when walking around- as long as you are wearing your “credentials”- a laminated piece of colored card stock attached to a black lanyard indicating that you are cleared to be there. Everyone is pretty accessible at this level. We went right up to Enrique Iglesias after his set and had a casual conversation. I expected more security but it was as if this was a “safe zone.” Even J.Lo’s adorable kids were riding around the hallways on their scooters while a family friend chased behind. It was pretty cool.
Ego-Free Zone: I have been to a lot of celebrity parties and events where it feels like everyone is trying to outdo each other. Behind this tour scene, however, celebrity seems to barely exist. Dressing rooms are generally left open and accessible, and celebrities, managers and family roam freely. Since we are dealing with big names like Enrique Iglesias and Jennifer Lopez, security is tight outside annd everyone allowed in is somehow connected to them, so I guess posturing and status-flexing isn’t necessary once you’re inside. While I haven’t officially met JLo yet, I did watch her sound check one night where she wore a casual sweat suit and ran through her routine before doors opened. And as I mentioned, I easily met Enrique and our exchange was surprisingly… normal! (Besides the fact that I was drooling over him a little bit on the inside but I kept my cool lol.) Our conversation consisted of absolutely no ego, he offered to take photos and actually thanked my artist for being on the tour. He thanked her! Swooooon. We still have a few more dates with the tour, so I’m looking forward to meeting JLo at one of the next shows.
TravelPros: I haven’t experienced tour bus life yet (but we will be doing that when we begin the “Liberation” tour with Mary J. Blige and D’Angelo… gulp) so we’ve been flying everywhere. The thought of traveling all of the time was always alluring to me. Now that I have been on about a dozen flights in the last month, I have to admit, it can be brutal. I know, I know, it must be such a tough life having to trod the country all of the time… but seriously, folks; packing, unpacking, TSA, terrible airport food, red-eyes, 3 oz. liquids, exploding shampoo, shoe removal, pat downs, TSA, plane neighbors, flight delays, traffic, hotel check-ins, hotel check-outs, and oh, TSA- it takes a toll! I’m curious as to what tour life on a big bus will be like. I hear its better… stay tuned.
Rise to the Top: These last few months of my inaugural music industry immersion have been eye opening, to say the least, and this tour has been no different. The road to being recognized is a laborious and often unfair one. My team has worked tirelessly to get more exposure for our artist and she already has a record deal. I cannot even imagine how difficult it is when you haven’t even been “discovered.” I have so much more respect for artists who are dedicated to becoming famous. On this tour I have witnessed camaraderie between artists, dancers and general personnel alike, who are excited to see old buddies doing big gigs; celebrities- new and seasoned genuinely encouraging newbies to stick to the fight. Everyone acknowledges the long road, and every fellow sojourner on it, because it seems that no matter how long you’ve been on it, you still have to work at getting farther along. It’s the most authentic and supportive dynamic of the industry I’ve seen thus.