It's Saturday night, and books editor Paul Constant and I are standing in a SODO club watching a conga line of foxes—blue, orange, and purple-furred foxes—dance past us. We are sober. A black fox wearing a kilt joins the end of the line, as one of the DJs pumps up the tempo with another house/trance number. Oh, there are other animals in the room—A cougar in tight maroon briefs (which look surprisingly obscene on a cartoon surrounded by other, "naked" cartoons) is getting a belly rub from an enthusiastic fella in one corner and a bear holds hands with a big-eared cat in the center of the dance floor—but I'm told the most popular costume choice is fox. The dance area is separated from the bar by chicken wire. Alas, there are no chickens present. (Also, no Disney characters.)

Paul and I are guests at Fur the Record: Off the Chain—Seattle's first furry rave. An event that organizers hope will become America's largest regular furry fandom dance party.

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Not all of the people are in full, mascot-style anthropomorphic costumes. Of the 100-plus people in the room, only 30 or so are actually "furry." The rest are lovers of fur—animators, cartoonists, puppeteers, artists, illustrators, and writers. (The world's largest furry convention, held in Pittsburgh PA, hosted 4,400 furry fans from 39 nations in June.) Some furry costumes are elaborate, with padded haunches and working mouths (snouts?). At least one costume has discreet slits in the ass and crotch. A furry named North explains that people get very invested in their furry characters; they'll go through three or four replicas of the same made-to-order costume, with each iteration costing anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000.

Most striking, almost all of the people at the party are men. They dance with other furries, stroke them, hug them, dry hump them, get humped in return. Sexuality is curiously suspended. One man, North, explains it this way: "Gay or straight, you're all furry."

A giant neon otter named Fuzzie wanders over to Paul and me. I ask him a few questions—which he can't really answer, as he's non-verbal—so he just pantomimes happiness back at us. I get the furry attraction—I'm totally enthralled being in a room of giant, furry cartoons. I want to pull Fuzzie's lush tail and jump on his back. I want to wrestle or sit on his lap and just stare into his giant, unblinking cartoon eyes. I am told this would be rude. We shake paws instead.

Paul, who used to be the Easter Bunny, is neither impressed by nor attracted to Fuzzie. "Thank God I can strike that off my list," he says.

We wander back into the Headless Lounge, where furries go to take off their heads for water breaks. The sight is curiously depressing. Cartoon heads are hung on a ventilated head tree. Men with tiny human heads stand around sweating in great furry bodies. I yearn for a snack.

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