More than a century ago, the architects of The Lemp Brewery complex faced a problem: how should they keep their beer cold? Refrigerators weren't yet around, and it'd be too difficult to tow an iceberg down from the Arctic. Their solution: going 100 feet underground, where old caves were naturally cool... or so they thought. In fact, the chilly air here wasn't caused by lack of sunlight?it was the result of an ancient curse. Today, visitors can still tour the subterranean brewery, now appropriately known as the Abyss. It's hardly abandoned. Around every turn waits a new monster, none of whom are friendly enough to offer any complimentary growlers.
The Abyss is just one of Scarefest's three chilling destinations. Creepyworld houses 12 attractions, including a series of mazes filled with everything from burning cars to ravenous zombies. In another part of town, a haunted house known as The Darkness plunges visitors into a world of terror. In its two-decade history, the haunted house has even shown up on national TV, which is not too bad a gig for a place infested by deranged clowns.
The sounds of flailing feet and fists correctly striking padded opponents pervade Absolute Martial Arts’ 3,600-square-foot facility, where students learn how to lose weight, tone up, and defend themselves simultaneously. Atop a large mat that the staff disinfects daily, professional instructors lead structured muay-thai kickboxing classes that slowly introduce exercisers to the fundamentals of the 1,000-year-old sport, which is similar to kickboxing and dissimilar to napping. Many of the trainers, including Thai-native Master Toddy, boast years of extensive training and practice, pushing students beyond their perceived limits but always keeping their safety in mind. It also offers Brazilian jiu jitsu and mixed-martial-arts classes to allow students a chance to explore new forms or augment their muay-thai practice.
After setting its wheels to the pavement in the early 1930s, South Side Cyclery today operates three stores in the St. Louis area that cater to cycling enthusiasts, with two-wheeled steeds, tools, and accessories by brands such as Giant, Specialized, and Schwinn. The ride-wise staff at each location guides riders to new mountain, road, or children’s bikes suited to any size, skill level, or fear of unicyclists. Visitors peruse more than 800 bikes in stock, enjoying free on-site assembly before wheeling their new toy off the lot. New rides include complimentary adjustments for one year, whereas all services—including tune-ups, flat-tire fixes, and chest bumps on the way out the door—also carry a 90-day warranty.
With more than 11 years of cross-country dance experience, Almas Del Ritmo Dance Company LLC's artistic director and certified Zumba instructor Carmen Guynn promotes cultural awareness during a range of Latin and Afro-Caribbean dance classes, including Zumba, salsa, and bachata. The dance haven derives its name from the Spanish words for soul and rhythm, which Guynn hopes will inspire her students to summon their inner selves on the dance floor without toting along heavy x-ray machines. In addition, the studio donates money to charities such as International Crisis Aid, Feed the City, and the Ronald McDonald House.
Chris and Pam Schmick had spent six months cleaning out the scrap metal from their abandoned silos and just finished drilling thousands of holes in its walls. With little time to spare, they prepared for their climbing gym's grand opening on September 2, 1995—a date on which they had already agreed to hold a regional JCCA competition. The effort they've expended in the nearly 20 intervening years shows: today, climbers scramble on top ropes, lead ropes, and more than 20,000 square feet of lava-free climbing surface.
Instructors prepare visitors to surmount the gym's features in a range of classes, such as Rock Gym 101, which is an introduction to top-rope climbing that covers climbing safety, basic technique, and equipment. Once climbers are equipped with gear from the pro-shop, staff shows them around a multi-level bouldering cave, a main climbing area with 30-foot walls shaped by arêtes, cracks, and waves, and the building's five original silos. Elsewhere inside the gym, six auto-belays safely cradle visitors who wish to climb without taking a class.
Just Dancing's team of experienced instructors, which includes international competitors and dancers who train with former US champions, teaches budding dancers of all ages several styles, including swing, foxtrot, and salsa. Instructors offer private and group lessons for individuals and couples, dividing most group classes into beginner, intermediate, and advanced sessions so students can learn alongside those of similar skill levels.