Bill Murray Dance Party goes mobile, even without Bill Murray
Bill Murray's appearance may have been a hoax, but any excuse for a party
Let's get this out of the way: Bill Murray, object of our love, star of 60-some Hollywood movies and TV series, did not show at Tuesday night's Bill Murray Mobile Dance Party.
Or, if he did, he did not make it known. Who knows, he might've bicycled beside us in disguise, Venkman himself incognito on a bright blue Schwinn Traveler III with handlebar streamers and a hamburger bell. Maybe he had Wayfarers on, despite the late-summer-evening dark. Maybe he smoked a thin cigarette and spouted witty remarks to the cyclists around him. But he was quiet about it. He did not fly into Gold Medal Park on angelic wings amidst a burst of heavenly light, like many hoped and--after a few shots of whiskey--sadly imagined. Bummer, dude. We still love you, Bill Murray. And the party went on anyway.
Notoriously, Tuesday night's party was inspired by a hoax press release from SuperOfficialNews.com that announced Bill Murray's nationwide "Party Crashing Tour," in which Our Man Murray would stop at cities throughout the country and infiltrate parties that welcomed him with a "Bill Murray Can Crash Here" sign. Minneapolis was said to be one of the cities on Murray's itinerary, so, hoax notwithstanding, local party organizers took up the cause, hoping he might show but not believing it. We're the Bike City -- let's have a Billy-inspired bike party anyway.
The ride met Tuesday at 6 p.m., around the Gold Medal Park sign in Mill City and did not depart till after 7:30, when Tipsy Bike (a.k.a., tk, a newcomer to the Minneapolis bike scene) arrived just a little more than "fashionably late" with tunes bumping from his impressive party bike. We cyclists used the unscheduled wait time (the ride was supposed to depart at 6:30 p.m.) to imbibe beverages of an alcoholic sort. There were flasks and coozies aplenty among the Murray velocipedes.
The Facebook event had promised more than 1,000 attendees, but I'd estimate 300 people actually showed. It was still an impressive sight, especially as the booze coursed through us and everyone began to dance, sometimes with their bikes beneath them in weird top-tube-humping maneuvers.
From Gold Medal Park, the ride progressed to the Stone Arch Bridge and Main. We ate up Main Street like the Cookie Monster eats cookies, then recrossed the river, filling the Hennepin Avenue Bridge from side to side. We pedaled through downtown, then hit the Nomad for dancing and drinks. With a few Prix Fixes in our bellies, we filled the Light Rail Trail and swiveled back to Grumpy's in downtown. Grumpy's is where I left the ride, because by then it had worn me down, tired me out. Not physically so much as ... emotionally. For me at least, the vibe of the Bill Murray ride was off. It felt weird and just a little nasty.
I'm all for huge bike rides. Believe me, I love the No Hater Rolling Dance Party and the Freedom From Pants Ride, similarly epic events. I am not, however, for bike rides that absorb the Critical Mass philosophy wholesale.
The Bill Murray cyclists, most of whom had unfamiliar faces and struck me as newcomers to events like this, seemed to have internalized the idea that biking in Minneapolis means having the right to be an asshole and piss people off. And I don't like that at all. The ride volunteers tried to corral everyone and keep them in line, but you can only do so much.
Allegedly, four Bill Murray cyclists biked straight into a stopped car. I saw others smearing their hands on autos stopped by bike traffic, while drivers glared back. I saw a frightened carriage horse rear up and nearly attack a few other cyclists. I saw an old man Nice Riding on the Light Rail Trail furiously yelling because the crowd was three-abreast and wouldn't make way for him.
"Fuck 'im," said one dude. "He's not part of our pack."
Minneapolis is better than this. Our cyclists are, too. I was not surprised to hear a few participants were arrested outside of the Gay 90s for, reportedly, blocking the sidewalk and throwing marshmallows. That agreed with everything I'd seen at the ride so far. By then I had abandoned the BMMDP and was happily eating a burger at Grumpy's with my girlfriend, who'd nearly been hit by a few cast-off Bill Murray participants who'd run a red light on Washington. Really, guys? This just proves all the bike haters right. And we've tried for several years to prove them wrong, with positive events, like the All-City Free Ride, that strive to work with traffic instead of against it.
The event still had its bright spots. The Tipsy Bike's setup is out of this world. I loved dancing under an overpass on the Light Rail Trail. I double-plus loved the Steve Zissou costume of cyclist Amelia English, who even painted a fake Bill Murray beard onto her face. Her take on the event was different from mine. "I had so much fun!" she told me, in an interview via email. "I really loved the immediate sense of community I felt--like our mutual love for bikes, beers and Bill of course meant we should all be besties for a night."
I wish I'd felt that way, too.
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