Photo by James Shambhu
Bike PromAt the balloon draped photobooth, a couple have their picture taken before doing a quick obstacle course and heading out to the next spot on the map.
By Gemma Karstens-Smith
Cyclists are showing their truest friend – their bicycles – some love by dressing up and letting loose at the prom.
“Bike prom is essentially a party for bike people … where your bike is your date,” explained Lauren Warbeck, a core organizer of Victoria, BC’s bike prom for the past two years.
Participants get decked out in whatever they deem to be their personal best – and the same often goes for the bike – and cycle en masse to the big dance, playing music and dancing all the way.
“It’s making a kind of political or social statement,” Warbeck said. “But it’s not a kind of political or social statement that people find unapproachable or confrontational. It’s something that amuses, delights, entertains and creates a sense of fun around choosing an alternative method of transportation.”
In Victoria, what began as a dance party at a local shop soon grew into a three- or four-day festival with everything from bike polo and group rides, to film festivals and art shows. Soon it wasn’t just the Victoria bike community in attendance, but people from all over the Pacific Northwest. And whereas the first event in 2007 had fewer than 100 people, last year there were upwards of 500.
Overall, Warbeck said, the event is a celebration not just of bike culture, but of the DIY community in general.
“You think of a high school prom as more of a traditional and conventional and kind of circumscribed occurrence. I think bike prom is kind of an ironic play on that,” she explained. “It’s this alternative community of people coming together to create … an event that they would actually enjoy and appreciate and that would actually reflect their values.”
Bike Proms Across America
Victoria’s not the only city that simultaneously celebrates bikes, music and looking good. Here are a few other cities that have hosted bike proms:
+ Montreal, QC
+ Washington, DC
+ Miami, FL
+ Denver, CO
+ Austin, TX
+ Lexington, KY
+ San Diego, CA
Next stop, your city! Check out this video of Miami’s first annual bike prom for inspiration: