No slight to the awesome undead prom royalty, flappers, dappers, murder bunnies or Guy With Puppet, but the hands-down best costume at Local Motive’s Halloween-themed cocktail crawl last Saturday in Colorado Springs was the one sported by our ride.
Back when it first hit the road in 1999, Colorado’s “Public Party Bus” definitely did not. Party, that is. Its passengers were years away from legal drinking age, and horseplay earned detention or social banishment to the dreaded front seat.
“It was a regular school bus, bright yellow, with the rows of seats,” said Lacie Preisler, who grew up in Fountain and was still Lacie Richardson when she and her boyfriend Mike Preisler joined a local group on a rented Denver party bus for a curated bar crawl a few years back.
“We were like, ‘Why don’t we have anything like this in the Springs?’” said Lacie, who subsequently set out with her life and business partner to remedy the situation.
After months of searching for a used school bus that would suit their purpose and budget, the couple settled on one and spent last winter transforming it, from the hubcaps up, into a shotgun-style dance club on wheels.
LOCAL MOTIVE COLORADO PUBLIC PARTY BUS: Visit localmotiveevents.com for a full schedule of Local Motive bar crawls.
Out went the tightly packed, straight-back benches and the dreaded front seat. In went comfy, creative accommodations for a pared-down passenger load, padded rows and a few strategic spinning stools (because why not?). In went a dry bar area for storing snacks, treats and toys; a gut-thumping sound system and black lights for dancing, garnished with all the party trimmings that could be battened down.
“For months, we were covered in yellow dust from all the sanding and grinding. I joked with Mike, ‘If I never see yellow again, I will be so happy,’” said Lacie. “There’s not an inch on that bus we haven’t touched. It’s a completely different bus.”
For Local Motive’s “serial entrepreneur” founders, who married in late September, the new venture was, at least in part, old hat. Thirty-year-old Mike founded and runs A Grazing Life, hosting cheffed events and private dinners on Colorado farms. Lacie, 31, is “phasing out” her business delivering fresh Alaskan fish to focus on Local Motive but still guides summer Alaskan adventure retreats for women through her company Wild Woman Adventures.
The duo’s newest, bus-borne venture, however, is all about keeping the fun, the love and the dollars close to home.
Partnerships with a number of local sponsor companies help keep ticket prices low, Lacie said. Tours are $25 and include transportation and drink specials at four locations, with riders spending about 45 minutes at each spot.
“Our main goal is to bring community together, get them out of their homes and doing something different in Colorado Springs,” she said. “We create public community experiences that explore our local food and drink scene … and we’re always continuing to look for places in the Colorado Springs area that we can highlight.”
The company routinely rotates destinations, so repeat riders are greeted with a new experience, Lacie said.
The agenda for last Saturday’s “haunted prom” launched at The Angry Pirate Bar on East Platte Avenue and included stops at the lounge of SCP Hotel, Distillery 291 and Bar-K — all locations that (shame on me) I’d never before visited.
So, mission accomplished, Local Motive.
In the months since the renovated and now-blue bus entered its second incarnation of service as a mobile party petri dish in late June, Lacie admits that she and Mike have navigated something of a steep learning curve.
Taking on a legal role as temporary chaperone for a bunch of partiers on a booze-themed excursion is a role they don’t take lightly, she said.
“We do kind of become the people who are going to make sure you are making the right choices after touring drink locations,” said Lacie.
At the close of Saturday’s crawl, haunted promgoers could avail themselves of a parting deal: a $10 ride credit with cab service company and Local Motive partner ZTrip.
“If you do have too much to drink, the tour guides are there on the bus are to make sure you get home safely,” Lacie said. “We value safety above all else.”
Also, no judgement.
So long as you embrace the modern rules — including ”no smoking, vaping or alcohol” — this nostalgic vehicle grants new leeway.
I speak, of course, of that “no standing unless dancing” edict.
“That’s kind of a joke we have. You can absolutely dance on the bus … just keep your body parts inside, no limbs out the windows,” said Lacie.
And should you happen to be riding the Local Motive Party Bus, moving with the groove during a hard turn, and find yourself in an (erstwhile) stranger’s lap? It’s all good.
“When everyone first gets on, people are awkward and quiet, but by end of the night, everyone’s talking and laughing and best friends,” Lacie said.