The empty hillock at the north entrance to Magnuson Park last Saturday was littered with bikes, heavyset guys in jackets with Dead Baby bicycle club patches, illicit six-packs of Rainier, and sweaty young women with their pant legs rolled up. Adam Sekuler, programmer at Northwest Film Forum and emcee for Bike-In (an event combining bands, beer, bicycling, and film shorts) said: "Please turn your attention to the concrete slab to the left of the screen." Everybody shut up.
To the sound of Zeke Keeble beatboxing into an offstage mic, Amy O'Neal and Jessie Smith glided downstage, legs lifted in pretty arabesques. Their little bikes skidded over the stage's grassy cracks and ruts, sucking up stray shards of glass that hadn't been swept offstage. (Later, O'Neal would discover her back tire was blown.) The modern dancers looked more than a little out of place. Nobody knew quite what to expect from what had been billed as "BMX bicycle dancing by locust." Still, the girls were foxy and they weren't falling down. Whistles of appreciation came up from the crowd.
After the mobile balancing act, the dancers dismounted. The bikes were machines, unwieldy props to be handled and tilted and rocked. Simultaneous faux wheelies were popped. The dancers looked stylish, if not quite competent. Who cares if they couldn't ride? They could totally hit a pose. In one sweet move, O'Neal and Smith laid their bikes on the ground and hugged their back wheels with wide arms and heels crossed like small, protective frogs.
The crowd was paying more attention to the dancing than they had to the opening band, Pillow Fight Fight. Modern dance isn't often jammed onto the same bill with raucous noise acts and an educational bike-safety film short called One Got Fat. But locust was holding up all right. People cheered whenever they did something fancy. By the time the short piece ended, they'd pretty much won over the crowd.
Back on top of the hill, a tall drunk guy asked Smith if she had a date. O'Neal said, "When I saw these hardcore guys out here, I was like, shit. All we've got is this corny bicycle dance." BMX bicycle dancing is one part of mockumentary, the show locust has planned for On the Boards in October. There will also be zombies, video, and Ellie Sandstrom. And who knows, maybe the Dead Babies' attention was well and truly piqued. Will they put in an appearance? Does Queen Anne have enough racks?