I have now seen Beyoncé twice this year, once at the beginning of September for the second Los Angeles performance on 09/02, and again the start of the following month of October on 10/01 for the tour final in Kansas City, MO. The first show I attended with friends was a phenomenal concert; the second show I attended all on my own in unknown territory was a once-in-a-lifetime-changing experience. In the two weeks since then, I’ve been processing the experience. Revisiting it in my mind, trying to draw inspiration from the experience into my day-to-day life. It ended up being something that I didn’t know how much I needed and an excellent decision for myself.
Car Failure Freak-Out
The initial portion of my Kansas City trip was admittedly challenging. I had been unable to sleep the night before traveling and started my journey running off of three hours of sleep and a state of melancholy of having left my dog behind for the first time. After flight disembarking, picking up my rental car, and getting checked into the hotel room, I took an evening drive to go procure some legal weed from a dispensary and a bite to eat. It was then that I started to realize what an insulated bubble where things still work San Diego is in relation to the rest of the country. Deciding to save a sit-down restaurant for another night, I got in line at a McDonald’s drive-thru with only 5 cars in front of me; getting through it took about half an hour. Not unlike my trips to Las Vegas earlier this year and San Francisco last year, everywhere seemed to be minimally staffed by people who were too jaded with the current state of things.
After a short stint back in the hotel room, I headed out to survey the landscape under the full moon night, crossing the state line and technically also visiting Kansas state on my trip out. At one point, I pulled over on the side of a residential road to step out of the car and take in the night. When I got back in the car, it suddenly refused to start. I’d paid for premium roadside assistance at the car counter, but realized that in my haste at the hotel had unwittingly removed the rental agreement—which had the premium roadside assistance contact number—from the car and left it in the hotel room. I tried unsuccessfully to get in touch using the rental agency’s general contact number on their website, resulting in a 15+ minute hold before the engine finally turned on another desperate attempt. I swiftly popped it into drive and punched the gas in the hopes of preventing it from suddenly sputtering out, and was flooded with relief when it was drivable enough to get back to the hotel.
The next morning, first order of business was to take the car back to the airport to swap it out for one that worked properly. Along the drive up, I felt a bit of dread noticing an absurd amount of traffic stopped in the opposite direction. If that was the only way back to the city from the airport, I was going to end up wasting a huge part of my day getting the car exchanged. The switch out itself was pretty quick and seamless, following an alternate route back to Kansas City to avoid the massive traffic jam I’d seen on the drive up. Said route eventually came upon a railroad crossing that was obstructed by a long train of tank cars that wasn’t moving. I ended the route and asked both Apple & Google maps to try and find me another way back to the hotel. They both responded with messages along the lines of “cannot calculate a route due to current conditions”, effectively leaving me and my little blue dot to figure out how to navigate construction capital USA on our own. I had no idea maps could just give up like that in a highly populated metro. I had wanted to get out and explore the city more on that free Saturday, but considering the state of the roads and how hot it was—90º by day, 78–82º at night—I ended up spending the afternoon relaxing and napping in the hotel room to try and catch up on the running sleep deficit.
A Boy’s Night Out
Being Saturday night, I intended to go check out the gay nightlife in the city but not before taking another night time drive to go scope out the venue. At the Los Angeles show, we’d gotten stuck having to deal with the consequences of the post-event vehicle traffic because we had females in high heels that were unable to walk far at a decent pace after 3+ hours of standing and dancing. Had I been alone, I could have easily walked the 1.3 miles back to the Airbnb from SoFi Stadium like I had done in the morning when I took the dog out for a long walk. Now that I was going to be attending the concert alone, I could plan around walking 3–5 miles if need be. Much to my dismay, GEHA Field/Arrowhead Stadium turned out to be lacking in accessibility. All of the roads leading up to the stadium are marked with “No Parking” signs, which were not uncommon throughout the city; street parking is apparently just not a thing in Kansas City outside of some residential zones in the metro area. Not only was the lack of off-site parking options a problem, but also the lack of pedestrian access—as in, sidewalks—to & from the venue.
I figured that I’d take some time early in the morning the next day to get a better lay of the land during daylight hours and lock in a plan then, and proceeded to head out to check out the Kansas City nightlife. Looking up the options online, I devised a route that would have me hit three of the bars/clubs in the area on a return path towards the hotel over the course of the night. Figuring I’d be drinking, the lack of street parking, and the heavy amount of construction going on in the city, I decided to call a Lyft. When even the cheapest fare with a wait time came up at close to $30 for a 1.3 mile ride up the street, I easily chose to eat the time sink and just walk that distance myself. That ended being more of a challenge than anticipated, being dressed in jeans and walking uphill in 82° nighttime weather, such to the point that I had to make intermittent stops to cool off and make sure I didn’t arrive drenched in sweat. With my delay in leaving and ultimately walking, I got too late to Hamburger Mary’s to even get in, much less have dinner.
Skipping the first stop on the plan, I headed a few doors down to Woody’s, a multi-level bar and enclosed first floor and an open balcony second floor. After paying a $10 cover to get in, I got myself a drink, then tried as best I could to hype myself up to being someone different who openly approaches groups of strangers. Unfortunately, the vibe there seemed to be very cliquey to a level that put the California stereotype to shame. The very first group I introduced myself to had flown in from Nebraska. After introductions and about 20 minutes of seemingly engaged conversation, they excused themselves to go get drinks and said they’d “be right back”, only to post up on the outdoor patio on the first floor. I didn’t let it bother me, but there was still a certain annoyance at them setting a false expectation when they were still going to be around rather than just ending the conversation with a casual “it was good talking with you, enjoy the show”. A couple of quick conversations with other people later, the music started going on the 2nd floor and with the additional people that had come in during the time I was there, it got to the point where it was really hard to distinguish anything inside that densely packed sea of conversations.
Having grown bored with Woody’s, I decided against going to the next & final stop, Missy B’s, since it would likely have another cover charge and likely be more of the same cliquey club kid environment. Revisiting the LGBTQ travel guide listings for something less club and more bar, I happened across a mention of a place called Side Street that wasn’t listed in the top travel guide search results. It was further out and in the opposite direction of the hotel room, but I figured I’d have plenty of time throughout the night to walk to all these places. I got lost along the way, and ended up arriving around midnight.
Walking into a dive bar like environment with a spacious outdoor area, it felt not unlike Pecs in San Diego. Here again, I got myself a drink, and started approaching random people. I hit the mark on the first attempt, having a prolonged conversation with two local (and cute) guys that ended only when they decided to call it and head home for the night. After they left, I pulled out my phone to find a message waiting for me on one of “the apps”, greeting me and noting that he thought he just saw me, being in very close reported proximity. We located each other seconds later, and got to talking ourselves. He was a cute stocky country boy visiting the city alone for the weekend from Topeka to scope out potential places to move back to. Since we were pretty much done with that place, we got in his car and he drove us a few blocks back in the direction of my hotel to hit up a place called Sidekicks, which turned out to be a predominantly Latino establishment. We had a couple drinks there, during which I was very disappointed by the lack of any Shakira, this year of all years.
By this point, we’d gotten on so well that it was silently understood he’d be going back with me to my hotel room and spending the night rather than driving home.
In the morning, we headed out to grab a bite to eat before parting ways for the day. During our meal, we were approached by a couple of out-of-towners also wearing Beyoncé shirts looking to get recommendations for things to do for the day before the show. Admitting that I myself was in the same boat, we ended up having an extended conversation that culminated in the exchange of phone numbers and the tentative plan to split the cost of their parking pass/gas and riding together to and from the concert. After brunch was done, I kept company with the gentleman caller while we drove around to look at some other rental listings he’d seen; I figured it was more time to get to spend with a likable stranger and see the city some more with someone who’s actually familiar with it. Plus, my travel plans for the show had seemingly been resolved, and my planned pre-show parking hunt wouldn’t have worked out well since the last MLB game of the season was happening that same afternoon at the adjoining Kaufmann Stadium.
Once the early afternoon hours rolled in, I went back to my hotel room to start getting ready for the show. Prior to starting to get cleaned up and dressed, I made a quick dash to a local marijuana dispensary to procure a few more joints for the remainder of the trip. Inside the waiting area, I was amused by the stark difference between the two primary demographics in the room: LGBTQ+ people of color chatting amongst ourselves and singing along with the Beyoncé tunes coming out of the bluetooth speaker on the phone, and reactionless quiet white guys wearing Kansas City Chiefs branded apparel all keeping to themselves on their phones.
Weed resupply completed and back at the hotel room, I was in such a state of elation that even though I didn’t have any tripods or lighting equipment on hand, I did my best quick attempt at doing one of those before/after transition video clips that all so popular in the TikTok era. Another thing to file under “doing things differently than I normally do”.
Throughout the process of getting cleaned up and dressed for the concert, I’d remained in contact with my new acquaintance from brunch. They had apparently been out sightseeing and drinking all day, and were only barely heading back to their hotel after 5PM. At that point, I figured it most prudent to ensure my venue travel personally. Any sort of public transit was immediately out of the question, as there’d be no way to count on it for the return trip after the show. The $30 for a one-mile ride on the Saturday night before let me know that a rideshare on-demand would be insanely expensive, given the apparent lack of drivers in the city. So went with the most cost-effective and practical answer of buying my own parking pass and dealing with whatever traffic all on my own.
Given that the distance to the venue was little under 7 miles, approximately 15 minutes with no traffic, I left my hotel at 6:30 to meet the show’s 8PM start time on the ticket. My ETA was calculated to be right around 7PM, a nice hour to explore the venue, take in the fashions, and scope out the merch offerings. Following the maps route, I ended up missing a left turn that put me on a highway heading in the opposite direction and past a hefty length of traffic that had already started to form up; I put myself further back at the end of the line, and limited the pathway options I had to the venue down to one. While it seemed to still be moving along at first like typical rush hour California traffic, that lasted only for a few minutes. It eventually slowed down to US-Mexico border crossing holiday traffic, with complete stops for entire minutes at a time. After enough progress in that slow crawl, I eventually made it to electronic traffic notice boards indicating that a vehicle had stalled out on the shoulder at the highway offramp—on top of all of the dual sport/concert event traffic going on that day.
The whole time, I saw people starting to take drastic measures out of desperation: driving on the shoulder lane, getting out of cars and walking down the highway, speeding off into one of the open traffic lanes in the hopes of finding an alternate route. Being that I was traveling alone and in a rental car, I didn’t have the luxury to pull off and abandon my vehicle to attempt to travel on foot, which would have been a fool’s errand from my surveillance drive the night before. So I held my position, telling myself that all those years in my childhood spent crossing the US-Mexico border had prepared me for situations like that. Still, I started to feel the onset of panic as the ETA kept ticking upward in response to the traffic conditions:
7:30. 7:37. 7:42. 7:49. 7:55. 8:10. Okay, not all the shows in the tour started at the announced start time. Some did, but plenty also had a delayed start. Perhaps that might be the case here.
8:17. 8:22. 8:28. Okay, even if it somehow started on time, I’ll only have missed a small portion of the 3 hour runtime. I’m all alone and can’t document any of it on video since I’m too busy driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic. I don’t want to call and talk to anyone about this sudden downturn the whole adventure has taken. I’ll just keep listening to music and trust things will work out.
8:33. 8:39. 8:44. MOTHER. FUCKER. At best, if has started late, I’ve missed any part of it. That peace I had minutes ago about missing the opening set has gone out the window, in light of how much money I spent on the resale ticket, flight/hotel/car, parking, and leisure; I don’t want to miss any of it. And at worst, if it did end up starting on time, I’m going to have lost a whole hour of the show. If I weren’t so stoic, I would have had the windows rolled up and yelling out my expletive-laden frustrations to myself aloud. Instead, all I can do is keep it all in my head. Fuck the rental car policy, the only thing I can do to steel myself is have a cigarette to keep calm and focus. Or three.
8:57. 9:05. 9:12. 9:30. 9:45. This is all stadium traffic. This has got to be on the news, and something her production team must be painfully aware of simply by looking at the stands. It’s the final stop on the tour, there’s no way she’s going to willingly perform to a half-empty stadium. Please, universe, let this rowdy-ass football city in a state far removed from California have no ordinances that would require the show to be done by a certain time. And if there somehow are any that apply to this isolated stadium complex, let Beyoncé’s team pull one of those Beyoncé-moves-of-legend to get an accommodation around it.
The total remaining distance from where I lined up in traffic to the venue was little under 3 miles. It took 2 hours to get through it. Things started consistently moving the last 3/4 of a mile, and I was relived to see the ETA rapidly dropping back down to a more amenable 8:45 PM. I pulled up to the parking lot gates to be enthusiastically greeted by the lot attendants, who were obviously aware of all the fuckery everyone was having to endure to get to the show. “Hurry up, she’s about to start!” they cried as I got waved through. I was directed towards a parking spot that was only a couple rows out from where the path from the gate booths let out into the larger parking lot area. That’ll be handy when trying to get out of here, I foolishly contemplated. I checked to make sure I had the bare essentials—phone, charger & cable, ID, and a physical credit card—then started making my way across the parking lot towards the venue. Much to my delight, there were no bombastic lighting effects or sounds of the Renaissance coming out of the open-air stadium. With less than 10 minutes until 9PM, possibly when the show might actually start, I made a quick video recording then ran the rest of the way to the stadium gates.
Once inside the venue, I promptly familiarized myself with its lavatory facilities to release that 2 hour car ride’s coffee/soda/water intake. After finding the general location of my seat, I wandered to the concession stands to check out the options available. All of the food options seemed pretty hefty, and I didn’t want to find myself scarfing down something and having to rush back to my seat. Instead, I opted to just grab a blended alcoholic beverage for the time being and just find a late night fast food option after the concert let out. Drink in hand, I made my way to my seat, and waited for the show to start by introducing myself to my two neighboring seat mates and making conversation.
I already had a good idea of what to expect, having gone to the second Los Angeles performance the month prior. At the very least, it would be the same thing as L.A., only with a better line of sight & sound quality, and hopefully some extra bonuses as the final stop of the tour. In the small bit of time I had to myself before the show not engaged with the people sitting next to me, I found myself defaulting to a state of present mindfulness. Reflecting on the journey so far, everything that had happened from the moment I left San Diego, I felt an overwhelming gratitude to the universe for having been able to experience it all, both the highs and the lows. I took some photos/videos on my phone to record the moment, then passed the rest of the time waiting for the show to start by closing my eyes and taking it all in: the warmth of the air, the sea of excited murmurs and infectious energy of the crowd. The show in LA had started mere minutes after we got through the gates, before we’d even located our seats. Having that moment of stillness and reflection was a nice change this time around.
Due to the traffic situation, the show’s start time ended up severely delayed, starting shortly before 10PM. The concert being as long as it is, that meant that we were going to be there into the early hours of the following morning under the under the (near) full moon off in the hills of Missouri. The moment the sound system fired up and the stage screen came on, I got taken to another state of being.
It was some veritable healing ass shit. All that stuff in her opening monologues during the show about the vision behind Renaissance and she herself finally being able to be present and free of perfection & expectations, all the writing in various reviews about the themes and intent of the album/tour, it all came to life in a way it never had in any of play-throughs since the album released or even the prior concert in Los Angeles.
Unique, strong, and sexy—that’s how Beyoncé wants you to feel while listening to RENAISSANCE. Crafted during the grips of the pandemic, her seventh solo album is a celebration of freedom and a complete immersion into house and dance that serves as the perfect sound bed for themes of liberation, release, self-assuredness, and unfiltered confidence across its 16 tracks. RENAISSANCE is playful and energetic in a way that captures that Friday-night, just-got-paid, anything-can-happen feeling, underscored by reiterated appeals to unyoke yourself from the weight of others’ expectations and revel in the totality of who you are.– RENAISSANCE iTunes Review
Everything melted away. Not just the recent world tragedies that inspired me to seize the moment and go on the trip, the COVID pandemic, or the polarized dumpster fire that was the 45th American Presidency, but the entirety of my life—from the deepest scars and past traumas to my general sense of self in the present. My body, mind, and spirit felt like I was suddenly existing in the 1990’s again, brimming with the youthful lightness of childhood innocence and free from our reality. My faint back pain disappeared, and my thought stream became nothing but amazement and curious excitement with the world around me. There was no high-level bullshit about anything to concern myself with. No past to reconcile, no future to worry about, no company to keep engaged and make conversation with, just me The world felt as simple and promising as it did back then, and it was wonderful sensation to feel again after all this time mired in adulthood.
Unlike past shows in tour, we didn’t get the usual Flaws and All intro monologue variation of her calling it her gratitude tour, thanking God and fans for being able to do what she loves for over a quarter of a century. Instead, we got a much more succinct message:
“I want to say, this has been a journey. And I’ve seen so many of you guys along this journey. A lot of people have flown in tonight to be here, I can see that. I can’t tell you how much that means to me. At this age, I’m able to be present, and I’m able to be in this moment while I’m living it. It’s something that’s taken me time, but right now, I’m here. And I feel every single one of y’all. And every day I pray, that I’m able to give you all my of my energy, and we give it back to each other, and that’s what the Renaissance is about.”— Beyonce, Kansas City Show MC
Implicit in that acknowledgement wasn’t just that many people like myself had traveled out to attend the show, but also the ordeal we’d all endured to get there. If she, the immaculate perfectionist performer, could take that stage unbothered by the production hiccups of a rescheduled final tour stop starting so late when it’s also being filmed, so too could we all leave behind the chaos of the recent hours as an already distant memory.
The show was phenomenal. The difference in sound quality between SoFi Stadium’s covered stadium and GEHA Field’s open-air setup were worlds apart. Where the L.A. show was hindered by the reverb of having seats so high and close to the ceiling, the sound in KC seemed to bounce off the far opposite end of the stadium and accentuate, which was most appreciated in how it amplified the sounds of the live drums. Even though I admittedly didn’t follow the different fashions over the course of the tour, it seems to me she really did save the best for last.
The Mute Challenge, KC
Among the fans and attendees, there’s been an informal competition to see which crowd could deliver the best collective prolonged moment of silence when prompted by the line “look around, everybody on mute” in the lyrics for the song ENERGY. The music stops, the choreography halts with poses indicating silence, and an eerily deafening hush washes over the entire stadium. Ideally.
In practice, the initial European leg of the tour failed to get the hint, and it only started picking up once the North American leg started. My prior outing for LA night 2 had made a decent showing, but nothing on the level of the leading cities that had elicited a “y’all won” proclamation of victory from Beyoncé herself. Being the last stop on the tour and GEHA Field apparently having a reputation as one of the loudest stadiums in the world, there was a high level of expectation for KC to knock it out of the park and deliver the best mute. We did not.
To be fair, the crowd wasn’t exactly setup for success, patience and care for such things worn out by the late hour and traffic odyssey everyone had endured on top of the acoustic properties of the stadium design. Not to mention, the surprise extended mute, which was sustained for much longer than it did at any of the previous tour stops.
The silence is always more intense in person than any smartphone video lets on, so we still managed to get a consolation “y’all won that” from Beyoncé. Still, other tour stops have produced much quieter videos than the ones from KC, so the crown for that challenge certainly sits with another city.
The Ivy League
While most of the focus online has been on the Mute Challenge which KC failed to take, we did kill it when it came to showing Blue Ivy love. On the night of the 2nd LA show, we gave Blue Ivy around a minute of applause. Beyoncé thanked us for the love, then moved onto the next song. In KC, it lasted 2.5–3 minutes. So long that when it finally tapered off, the first thing she did was put her hand on her heart and bow to us, no words.
Showing up at a literal safe space for LGBTQ+ people in an audience that’s predominantly PoC to get the best show on Earth right now from the standard bearer in performance and creative vision, and be able to give her something back for throwing us this party, so much she’s patting tears off her eyes as she’s moving the show on…there was something special about doing that into the early morning hours under the moon visiting a far-off state. A neat moment to have been a part of at that point in time on this blue rock in space.
Love on Top
Another consistent point of interaction over the tour has been the audience singing break at the end of Love on Top. I don’t know how KC did in relation to all the other tour stops, but it definitely was louder, longer, and more lyrically correct than it had been in Los Angeles. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that it was one of if not the best. We did well enough to get a surprised facial expression out of her when we crescendoed louder when it seemed like we were done over a minute into it.
After the concert was over, I decided against making a mad dash for the car and trying to get out before everyone. I needed to use the restroom, and I wanted to buy some different merch to have specifically from my KC trip. This was drawn out by the fact that a couple of the merch stands I first tried were already sold out of my size (medium), leading me to other ones on the far ends of the stadium. By the time I reoriented myself and found my way back to the car at 1:15 AM, the parking lot was a chaotic sea of red lights. I instinctively got into the car, turned on the engine, and tried to pull out of my spot. When the next cars in the queue off to my left sped up to close any gap and prevent me from pulling out in front of them, I reflexively got in that aggressive US-Mexico border crossing mindset and started mapping out how to cut them off and edge my way in around them. But then I realized that I wasn’t willing to do that to myself.
I had already used up all my patience being stuck idling in traffic getting to the venue, I wasn’t about to sign up to be put in a bad mood right after such an amazing experience. Instead, I stepped out of the car and smoked a miniature joint from my earlier dispensary haul, then I reclined the seat and made a call back home to my roommate to catch up and check in on my dog. That didn’t last too long, given the poor cellular reception in the parking lot too far out to be able to use the stadium’s wifi. I watched some of the videos I’d recorded during the show before sitting up to find that the cars around me still hadn’t moved much. Without usable cell service and not much else to do, I decided to set an alarm for 30 minutes and just nap in the car while the traffic cleared up.
When I put the seat back up at 2:15 AM, all the traffic had dispersed and there were only a handful of other moving cars off in the distance of the vast parking field. Having been in place for hours and over that short nap, my contact lenses started irritating and were being difficult to recenter and stay in place. After poking and prodding at them enough to feel confident in my vision to drive, I slowly made my way out of the stadium complex. Along the side of the roads, I saw plenty of small clusters of people sitting along the side and waiting for rides. In the time since then, I would learn that they were effectively stranded; there were no drivers to satisfy the demand, some people online reporting Lyft/Ubers quoted at $300–400. In an alternate universe where I hadn’t forgotten to pack my glasses as a backup to my contacts and had eaten something in the time before the concert started, I would have had the wherewithal to pull offer and ask at least a few people if they needed a ride towards where I was going. Instead, it was 2:30 AM, I didn’t feel comfortable in being responsible for passengers or approaching strangers in the middle of the night. And most importantly, I was HUNGRY. The only thing I had on my mind was finding something to eat and getting decent sleep in order to wake up and not have to rush to meet the 11AM checkout time.
The Post-Show Mess
Consulting both Yelp and Maps for 24 hour options, they all ended up actually being closed: Taco Bell, Wendy’s, some Mexican food place. The only option that was actually open was McDonalds. However, slow as they’d been during the early evening hours on a Friday, they were assuredly a slammed skeleton crew at 3AM on a Monday. Both of the locations near my hotel had lines of 12+ cars, I knew that was easily going to be at least an hour of wait time, and I wasn’t willing to do any more prolonged car sitting. A third McDonalds was fairly close by, over the state line in Kansas. I made the short drive there to find that one slammed with a long line as well.
Reviewing maps and yelp for more options, there turned out to be a Burger King a couple blocks up the way. I pulled up to find only two cars in the drive thru line, something much more manageable. When I pulled up to the menu, I was unexpectedly asked if mine was a Door Dash order. When I replied no, the person at the other end responded that at that time they were only servicing Door Dash orders, and apologized for the inconvenience. That was mind-boggling to me. A Burger King location with Burger King employees on the clock, yet they’re unable to do business with me directly, it has to go through a third-party platform that inflates their prices and takes a percentage of their profit. What?!?!.
At that point in the night coming up close to 3AM, I could only laugh in defeated acceptance and drive off back across the state line towards the hotel in search of some viable option. Seeing a 7-Eleven pop up along the route, I decided to just grab something quick from there. Once again, I pulled up to find a closed storefront, with posted business hours of 10AM–10PM. Laughing to myself again over the ridiculousness of what I was witnessing, a closed 7-Eleven, I decided to give the local equivalent chain, QuikTrip, near my hotel a try. Luckily they were not only open, but had a decent selection of grab-n-go foods on hand. Settling for a southwestern chicken wrap and a salad, I hastily returned to my hotel room, consumed those much needed calories, then set my alarms for 5 hours later to give myself a couple hours to shower and pack.
The Return Trip Home
After waking up and getting ready to leave the hotel for good, I’d planned on exploring the city for a little bit before making the afternoon drive to the airport for my 4PM flight. At the last minute, I ended up hearing back from an acquaintance that had moved to KC letting me know he had free time. I put aside my exploration plans, instead meeting up with said person to hang out and catch up for a while after so many years since we’d last seen each other.
The drive to the airport was quick and effortless, as was getting through security. On both trips, having TSA pre-check from the SENTRI program registration I completed for quick US-Mexico border crossings has been such a huge convenience. Seeing as how I still had a fair amount of time before takeoff, I stopped at a gift shop to buy myself a few non-Beyoncé souvenirs to commemorate my trip to Kansas City: a tee, a mug, a magnet, and a shot glass.
Once aboard the plane and luggage stowed overhead, I took my window seat and pulled out my iPad to redeem my WiFi access I’d purchased in advance and try to get a head start on regular life waiting for me back home. About a couple minutes after I did, I ended up casually engaging in conversation with the two guys sitting in my row. The flight was predominantly departing Beyoncé concert attendees, and largely Black at that. So our row’s conversation ended up joined by the row immediately behind us, with people in our near vicinity chiming in here and there.
That good energy among us was also shared by our flight attendant, whom we all proclaimed to be Ms. Spirit Airlines. At every lull or pass by us while servicing the rest of the flight, she would stop and chat with us, at one point even coining us “her section”. We were so endeared with each other that she hooked us up. I hadn’t planned on buying any snacks/drinks, but was all in on the communal vibe that I decided to go ahead and get a small tequila shooter and a soda to mix it with. Instead, I was handed a literal handful, a clutch of 5 bottles. Same went for everyone else in “her section”. By the end of the flight, we’d been given so much soda, booze, and snacks, and collectively only been charged for a single bag of chips.
We all ended up talking throughout the entirety of the flight to the point where I never used my in-flight internet connection, the guy sitting next to me never once felt that terrible anxiety he said he always gets whenever he has to fly, and we all took a group photo and exchanged social media profiles. Aside from the actual show, it was easily my favorite part of the trip.
Needless to say at this point, I got a lot of my Kansas City trip. I had my sense of adventure rekindled. I had my calm and stoicism in the face of adversity challenged, and succeeded. I had the opportunity to flex my competency with social soft skills by successfully engaging with so many different people in various contexts. I had the experience of music resonating with me on a deep and personal level I thought I’d never see again after my mid-late 20’s.
Beyoncé’s Renaissance, as an album and as an experience, has been transformative. For all the things we’ve all endured, as a society and on an individual level, I imagine that the overall feeling I’m having is the same that everyone else that went is having. This reinvigorated drive to do our best and be our happiest. Not because we’re “inspired by Beyoncé”, but because her music and performance has been able to connect us to that newly born state of being, where the world is nothing but wondrous possibility and we carry all the internal validation we need.
“At any point, they could close their eyes and be right back there, and take it with them…”–Beyoncé, RENAISSANCE: A Film by Beyoncé Trailer
Having the sense memory to be able to do just that and project back into that Kansas City night is a treasured privilege. Many people have had post-tour sadness over it being finished, that the pipeline of updates and spectacle has dried up for the near future. My only lament is that it didn’t run longer and in more parts of the world for more people to be able to partake in the sweet bliss of the Renaissance.