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Portland’s beloved ‘Sprockettes’ dance for final time tonight

Posted by on December 6th, 2019 at 12:52 pm

A scene from their 10th anniversary performance at Colonel Summers Park in 2014.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

https://www.thesprockettes.com/info

When I first saw the Sprockettes in 2004 I had no idea they were the top of a cycling culture iceberg that was so inspiring to me that I’d spend the next 15 years of my life devoted to documenting it.

Flyer for tonight’s party. Starts 7:00 pm at The Watershed in Sellwood.

With fresh eyes from Southern California, the blur of smiles and hi-viz pink bodies and bicycles rolling in the street and dancing to a makeshift sound system in front of an appreciative crowd was something I just couldn’t fathom. What the hell is going on? I wondered. It was ridiculous, preposterous — and I loved everything about it.

Tonight the people who created and sustained this amazing part of our community for over 15 years will come together for one last dance.

Formed on a whim in 2004, The Sprockettes have been a mainstay even as many other parts of our bike scene have changed. During their reign, these hard-working and passionate women never forgot what they stood for: a DIY ethic, body positivity, the power of bicycles, knowledge sharing, free fun, creative street culture, the value of a strong community, and so much more.

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It’s hard for me to put into words what this group means to me and to Portland more broadly. Below are a few of the nearly 1,000 images I’ve published of them over the years and a few more thoughts…

One of the coolest things they did was an annual summer camp for girls. It was super cheap (free for those who couldn’t pay) and the kids (including my girls!) absolutely loved it. What could be better than teaching young girls that bikes are awesome and you can be beautiful and strong and have fun while doing it?


The Sprockettes were part of a fascinating cycling culture milieu. By the late 2000s they had inspired several similar dance teams across the country and globe. It was nothing short of a bike dance revolution that included: The B:C: Clettes and The Brakes (an all-male group!) from Vancouver, British Columbia; The Bottom Brackettes from Eugene; the Velo Vixens from Victoria BC; the Derailleurs from the Bay Area; Portland’s all-male dance team, Chain Reaction, and several others. (Several of the groups came to Portland in 2007 to perform at the Multnomah County Bike Fair.)

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The Sprockettes performed at The Street Trust’s Alice Awards in 2010. Note the age and dress of the crowd.

I think it’s also notable how The Sprockettes were a bridge between cultures. They connected the punk and freak bike crowds with the more staid commuter and political/advocacy crowds. This cultural cross-pollination was the magic sauce of Portland’s Golden Age of Cycling between 2005 and 2010 (roughly).


Speaking of cross-pollination, there was that time in 2011 when a cyclocross racing team dressed up as The Sprockettes at the annual Bend Halloween races. And check out the big crowd at the Pedalpalooza ride they led in 2010.


Getting ready in the tour bus before a performance in Truckee, Nevada in 2008.

The Sprockettes transcended Portland, and I don’t mean because people could see them on the Internet. In 2008 I joined them on their Operation Bike Nation tour sponsored by New Belgium Brewing. In an old school bus, they drove from Portland and performed in Ashland, Davis, San Francisco, Truckee, and Boise, Idaho.

Portland won’t feel the same without knowing The Sprockettes are still meeting at a park to practice and dancing in the streets. Lucky for us we have one last chance to revel in our collective love of bikes and the wonderfully ridiculous things they mean to us. See you tonight!

Sprockettes Farewell Party
– The Sprockettes perform at 7:30 and 10:15 pm
– Live music by: Never Better, Feral Dance Crew, Gaytheist, Hairpuller, and DJ Jose Dee
– Sprockette gear silent auction. All proceeds will be donated.
https://www.thesprockettes.com/
– Details on Facebook or the BikePortland Calendar.

– Check out my Sprockette photo album on Flickr for nearly 900 images of their performances throughout the years!

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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6 Comments
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    John Lascurettes December 6, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    I am having deja vu making this statement (again?), but I thought the Sprokettes had given a “final farewell” before. And the last time I asked that, I was told something to the effect, “no, not really, but this time for real.” Only now I’m seeing this again. In fact, last summer when I saw them practicing in Irving Park I was happy because they were “back”. I haven’t been able to catch a performance in years (and tonight is no different), but they’re always a joy. I’ll be sorry to see them go if they’re really gone for good. I’ll wear my Sprokettes fan shirt until it’s threadbare.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 6, 2019 at 2:26 pm

      This is it John. They announced this would be their last year several months ago and there was some miscommunications about the “final show”. But this is definitely the end.

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    Jim Lee December 6, 2019 at 2:18 pm

    So sexist!

    I love it!

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    bikeninja December 6, 2019 at 3:08 pm

    I will miss them, but my biggest fear is that they will be reincarnated as the E-Scooterettes. But it seems the way things are going these days.

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    Todd Boulanger December 6, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    Jonathan…reading your homage to the Sprockets…and my eyes are tearing pinky tears…thinking back to all those great events. (And my amazement seeing the Sprockets perform one year – 2006?- while crawling and dancing in some hot Pedal Palooza dirt pile of a site. That was true event dedication I thought….

    And thinking back with your piece…their start was at one of the best MCBFs…with Shawn MC’d the MCBF in a dress…more epic with Kiran, Timo too and of course Alan doing wild donuts on his then new [Vanilla?] handbuilt long bike in the middle of everything on the play court of Col Sumners Park.

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    Vanessa Renwick December 6, 2019 at 7:49 pm

    And this great short Nicky, a sprockette herself, made: https://vimeo.com/1663322

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