In the two and a half years since the Portland Sprockettes donned their pink spandex and began hoisting mini-bikes over their heads, doing semi-acrobatic two-wheeled tricks and performing booty dance moves à la In Living Color's Fly Girls, our local bike-dance team has been talking about an "international bicycle danceoff." They told me about it when I first interviewed them at the Alberta Street Fair in September 2005, but I had already read about their collective dream on their MySpace page. At the time, a bicycle danceoff seemed pretty unlikely prospect—let alone an "international" one.
But funny things can happen when you're dealing with a group of ladies who are dedicated to breaking down the typical body image associated with dance teams while promoting bicycling and a general do-it-yourself attitude (the routines are self-choreographed and the costumes are home-designed—without any formal training in either field). Audiences both inside and outside of the Sprockettes' bikester world have been wowed by the group's halftime shows at the Rose City Rollers' roller-derby events and benefits for causes such as the rebuilding of a bombed abortion clinic in Olympia, Wash. But nowhere has the response to the Sprockettes been so enthusiastic as Vancouver, British Columbia.
The Sprockettes performed at VeloMutation, the biggest bike party in B.C. in 2005, and when the group returned the following year, a new all-girl group took the stage: the B:C:Clettes. Nicole Bennett of the group, which uses full-sized bike wheels like cabaret fans, wrote WW that "the absolute reason" the B:C:Clettes started was because they were "thoroughly inspired" by our Sprockettes.
But cyclo-dancing isn't only for girls—the Brakes, another B.C. group, is the world's first all-male bike-inspired dance troupe (they also perform with full-sized bikes). The Sprockettes' choice of mini-bikes springs from their involvement in Zoobombers, Portland's mini-bike icon. The small bikes enable them to perform some unique moves, like the "Hand Crank," which involves rotating on one's toes while leaning onto a bike seat, tracing a circle like a compass.
These three groups will meet this weekend for the Sprockettes Invitational—the first bona-fide international bike danceoff. It's shaping up to be quite a production: The Sprockettes say they will dance to a live performance by Romanteek (they normally play the Olympia, Wash., band on a stereo), but it's nothin' you and your spoke-buddies couldn't put together given some time. Sure.
For a video guide to the Sprockettes' moves, check out wweek.com. The Sprockettes' International Bike Danceoff is Friday, Nov. 17, at Disjecta, 5 SE 3rd Ave., and features performances by On the Double, the B:C:Clettes and the Brakes. Doors 6 pm, show 7 pm. Donations welcome. All ages. For a full schedule of the Sprockettes' Invitational weekend events, Nov. 17-19, visit sprockettes.org.