All Aboard: The Sundance Bus
January 26, 2016
Huddled around street-side heat lamps, trudging over slushy snowbanks in non-sensible shoes, they gather. Like freshmen walking around a college campus, staying in packs, clutching their matching lanyards, Sundancers do what it takes to get to the theater on time.
Although some lucky festies could afford a $200-per ride Uber helicopter (which has since been shut down), most rely on Park City’s free public transit. Give us your tired, your trendy, your huddled masses yearning to see and be seen. The Sundance bus welcomes all.
According to ParkCity.org, an additional 60,000 people flock to town during Sundance. That means upping the number of free public buses to 70 and creating whole new routes to move 30,000 folks who utilize the buses each day of the festival. Last year, the Sundance buses made 300,834 passenger trips!
The broad spectrum of passengers on the Sundance bus is enough entertainment to make you miss your stop. During Sundance, bus fashion goes from the usual locals in snow pants to leather pants, lavish fur hats and Louis Vuitton satchels. At peak hours, the Sundance bus feels more like a New York City subway car as freshly lacquered fingernails scroll down illuminated touch screens, Instagramming a celebrity pic or searching for a sushi restaurant that hasn’t already been booked.
Beneath the buzz of the bus’s motor, one hears juicy bits of conversation. "Oh, I did the special effects for that film," and "I’ll see you at the after-party." Some deeper eavesdropping delves deep into the artistic nuances of Robert Mapplethorpe’s photography and which experimental film would’ve been better to see while stoned.
Amid the festival madness there’s a 20-something who aptly picked this week for his family ski vacation. "I don’t give a s*** about movie stars, I’m just here to ski!" But even he can’t escape the spirit of Sundance as he brags to the bus about seeing a Playboy playmate at the club.
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A frank and somewhat plump Sundancer joins the ski-conversation when asked if he’s be exploring the mountain during his stay. "Go skiing? No way. That’s how white people die." He then validated his opinion by mentioning Sonny Bono and that other actress he couldn’t remember.
In the meantime, a giggly gang of Park City teens clad in Varsity sweatshirts and pajama pants find their way to the back of the bus, taking wide-smile selfies and sipping chocolate milk. Equipped with an arsenal of 40-plus wooden clothespins, they headed to Main Street, ready to prank unsuspecting festies.
"The best part about the Sundance bus is the people you meet," said Jason Stuart, loud-mouth comedian and actor starring in the film "The Birth of a Nation." "See, I met my new boyfriend on the bus," said Stuart to the unassuming, now very uncomfortable fresh-faced stranger beside him. He then went on to preach the kindness of Park City’s bus drivers.
"It’s not like L.A., where everyone’s in their cars, texting and yelling at their kids."
Although most folks still have their eyes glued to their smart phones, there’s a sense of community that forms while squished together on the blue carpet seats.
The bus driver pulled over and announced his Theater Loop shift was over, and that he’d be passing the wheel off to a new driver. Before he left, he wished us goodnight and posed a question: "What if we had TV’s and showed films on the bus between theaters?"
A well-dressed man in a cowboy hat responded: "We’ll have to talk to Redford about that."