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Portland Comedian and Musician Creme Brulee Has Become a Fixture of the Protests—Mostly By Dancing

Last week's Frontline Drumline was hardly the first time Christian Burke has danced between clouds of tear gas.

WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.

When Mad Composers Lab and videographer Faith Faucet asked Christian Burke to lead a dance off last Friday near the front lines of the Portland protests, Burke was surprised but unhesitant.

"I've been asked to do a million different creative things, but I've never been asked to do a dance off," says the Portland comedian and musician, who also goes by Creme Brulee. "So I was like, sure."

To be fair, though, last Friday was hardly Burke's first time dancing in between clouds of tear gas, either. Though he's hesitant to call himself an activist, Burke has been a highly visibly protester over the past two months, whether it's climbing the pole at the Portland Stripper Strike or dancing in front of the graffiti covered Federal Courthouse wearing a helmet and arm guards. 

"Because of the movement that's popped up," he says, "I've just been really grateful to—safety or not—be around the community here and express that joy and my favorite way to express joy which is shaking my booty."

Dubbed the Frontline Drumline, the dance off that Burke led on July 24 was held as the sun went down by the Salmon Street Fountain before marching towards the Federal Courthouse.

"The idea that they saw, despite knowing that we where going to march in to town and probably going to get tear gassed and want to vomit, I was still—and everyone was still—joyous," he says. "That I think is a better 'threat' to the government than a peaceful protest because a joyful protest is one that isn't going to stop."

WW talked to Burke about creme brûlée pancakes, tear gas and the difference between peaceful protests and joyful ones.

See more Distant Voices interviews here.