September 16, 2022

The SOUL Production Part 2: The SOULfusion EXPERIENCE by Brandi Ortiz

The SOUL Production Part 2: The SOULfusion EXPERIENCE by Brandi Ortiz

It’s all about the way you make them feel… and I felt like I was going to vomit.

Half an hour before Mom’s class, we started our way to the Pavillion. Since we needed someone to stay with the booth, Joie volunteered. We arrived early to see them going over the slideshow and reviewing selected songs.

Eventually, it came time to let everyone into the room, and what a crowd! Dozens of women (and a guy) poured in! Mom introduced herself and explained a bit about the SOUL brands and how music came into play. She even encouraged attendees to introduce themselves to one another and share their go-to songs.

However, Lex nor I felt like talking to strangers, so we kept to ourselves and chatted about our favorite musicians instead. Lex said she liked Jon Davidson (I think?), and I gushed about Voltaire. When Mom saw us together, she just laughed.

Mom talked about working as a single mom and roasted Lex and me a bit. Admittedly, I was antisocial and tended to bite people as a kid. We frequently tried escaping daycare mainly because we were bored or wanted to see our mom.

Looking past the embarrassment of rekindling my daycare days, I could see why Mom wanted us to attend. She wanted us to see her doing what she loved, and I could see that she loved making people feel good. She wanted to see people feel good in their own skin. I was proud to watch her work, but I felt a rising sense of shame and guilt as she spoke.

For years, I felt like I had to be a perfect copy of my mom. Someone who lived and breathed fitness. Someone who felt good in their skin. But that wasn’t me. I liked to stay out of the sun and watch cartoons, read books, and keep to myself. And I was not happy with my body. Mom never knew this, though. I wasn’t ready to come forward with those feelings back then, so I kept them to myself.

Initially, I had no intention of participating in the class. I came to snap some photos, take videos, and for overall moral support. As I mentioned, I am not coordinated and did NOT want to embarrass myself or my mom. But as the class started, I felt inclined to try.

So I tried and felt like I would pass out or puke. I’m ashamed to admit this was my first time attempting one of my mom’s classes, and I was out of practice when it came to fast pace exercise. But I wanted to try. I wanted to be supportive.

My legs were shaking, and I was out of breath, but I wanted to try. I owed it to myself and my mom to try.

I tried. I did not conquer this class, but I did conquer my fear of trying. I followed along with the moves as best as I could, and even mom admitted she was surprised to see how well I was doing (considering this was my first time).

In the end, I did my best and surprised myself. Class finished, and Mom spent some extra time talking with the attendees. It was great to see her in her element.

Eventually, we returned to the booth and resumed talking to passersby. We saw the surrounding booths begin to pack up and disappear, so we decided it was time to pack up. The hardest part of the weekend, besides smiling non-stop, was lugging back all the equipment and merch from the booth.

Someone from Myzone (his name was Terry) must have seen us struggling with everything and offered to carry some of our equipment, literally taking some of the weight off our shoulders. Thanks again, Terry from Myzone! We got as far as we could with Terry, then parted ways and headed back to the hotel. I am amazed nothing was dropped or left behind!

At the hotel, we got ourselves ready for the little party my mom had planned for her SOUL SQUAD. One by one, the ladies knocked on our door and were let in. We laid out snacks and poured enough champagne for everyone. I don’t drink, and I forgot to pack non-alcoholic drinks for myself, so I just decked out some regular water with an immune booster that changed the color. I felt fancy.

The ladies were having fun, sharing stories, and talking about the convention. Eventually, we formed a circle and began a game of telling the group a fun fact about ourselves. For privacy, I will keep names out of it. But I learned a lot from the ladies around me. They all seemed to come from different walkways of life.

When it came time for my time, I honestly did not know what to say because I loved talking about my interests, but I hated talking about myself. Does that make sense? Anyways, Mom encouraged me, and I talked a bit about my time studying aboard and how I wanted to become a writer. We talked and drank a bit more, and all in all, it was a fun night.

July 24th

For the first time all weekend, I slept in.

We left to have breakfast at a place called Alexxa’s. It took a while to be seated, but since we all had time to check the menu beforehand, we ordered straight away. Mom and I settled for a basic breakfast combo of scrambled eggs, bacon, and an English muffin. Delicious and recommended. A reasonable price for a very decent breakfast.

After breakfast, Mom and I walked down the Strip. It was hot, and I had neglected to put on sunscreen, so we stopped at Target to buy some. I used my discount to buy a twin pack and Mom a patterned pearl cup from Starbucks. I liked it too so I didn’t mind.

We walked toward New York-New York and got some inside info about one of the ongoing shows called Mad Apple. It was our tradition to see a show each time we came to Vegas, and we had already seen Beatles Love twice, so we decided something different was necessary. Unlike the shows we have previously seen, Mad Apple was supposed to be a variety show that included singers, dancers, acrobats, and comedians.

Initially, I was disinterested in seeing the show. I do love cirque du soleil, but dirty humor is not typically my cup of tea. However, once we started walking toward the MGM, I was happy to be out of that hotel room. I wasn’t wearing makeup, but I wore a comfy black and white striped dress that felt cute enough for the occasion. And once we arrived, I realized Mom had bought us Golden Circle seats which meant we were right behind the first row of seats. Besides the bald man blocking most of my mom’s view, they were perfect seats. Not too close for the comedians to spot and roast us, but close enough to see every aspect of the show.

Ultimately, it was a fantastic show, and we had a great night together. The humor was vulgar but funny at times. The acrobats had my heart racing and the singers had us singing along. Overall, it was a show I would recommend to anyone over sixteen. I say this because someone thought bringing in a nine-year-old to a sixteen+ show was a good idea.

July 25th

It was our last day in Vegas, so we decided to go to the Peppermill, a famous restaurant and lounge that was luckily less than a mile from our hotel. We walked to the restaurant, sat down, and ordered our breakfast. I got another basic breakfast combo but with a bagel this time. Yum. Mom also had another basic breakfast and a plate of turkey sausage. We got our picture. My favorite part of eating at Peppermill was that they took your picture for free. Mom and I got to enjoy a quality meal, a fun ambiance, and a photo as a memento each time we visited.

We returned to the hotel and packed the rest of our things for the drive home. After many, many back and forths between the room and the car, we had everything packed. We were ready for the road home.

Brandi Ortiz


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