Bowie Biking and Prince Pedaling

Mobile dance party is a spandex-y success.

By Trina Jones June 22, 2009

Well-appointed ‘80s enthusiasts gather at Dawson Park in North Portland and ready their rides in preparation for the night’s frenetic festivities.

Though the rain dampened the moods of a few would-be glam rockers, the Bowie vs. Prince Mobile Dance Party on June 19 was a raging ride. With around 100 bikers present, the ride began in Dawson Park and meandered through North Portland till almost dawn, picking up zombie stragglers and dropout riders (aka "freak bikes"—tall bikes, circus bikes, other offbeat bikes) along the way. Many of the participants, decked out in spandex, gold sequins, face paint and more spandex—heard about the Bowie/Prince ride through the bike grapevine. Pedalpalooza, an annual two-week bike festival, brings together different factions of the bike community, from rowdy Zoobombers to playful SHIFT activists to the odd green commuter. Pedalpalooza events like the Bowie vs. Prince ride foster an atmosphere of acceptance among the bike set; everyone is welcome to participate.

At each "rest" stop, cyclists dismounted and danced, their flashing bike lights creating a clubby strobe effect. The ‘80s jams pumped from a sound system wrapped in plastic bags and powered by a car battery. By the first stop, on N Mississippi Avenue and Shaver Street, the "liquor long johns" had kicked in, the cold had worn off, and the dancing was in full swing. As the bikers rode off into a night of undisclosed booty-shaking locations, cars honked in approval, pedestrians waved, yelled, and ran into the road for high-fives, and Portland generally overflowed with bike love. Even the police were onboard—meetings between Pedalpalooza organizers and Portland Police had resulted in promises of good behavior and perhaps a blind eye or two. The goodwill was running so high that the few random sneers inspired by the abundance of spandex (or not-so-abundant, in some unfortunate cases) failed to deter these ’80s enthusiasts from a night filled with dancing, biking, and glittery diversions. And for those readers on the edge of their seats, Bowie was the dominant pop icon of the evening. Don’t agree? Wiggle into a sheer, backless, orange unitard (everyone has one, right?) and join the Pedalpalooza gang next year.

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