“Get the FUCK out of my bar!”
If the man who just yelled this was a cartoon, his ears would be smoking. He is so livid you’d think a Republican congressman had just IM’d his teenage son. It’s Saturday night, October 7, around 11:30 at the Rattlesnake Bar & Grill and this stocky, red-faced guy has just hightailed it across the floor, flipped a switch that killed the music (Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On”), and then dropped a dirty F-bomb on his giggling patrons. What’s made this man so angry isn’t a hammered jerk climbing behind the taps or a couple fornicating on a back table. What’s made Mr. Rattlesnake so furious is something not so strictly forbidden: a trio of dancing men.
Granted, one of them was just dry-humping a hand-railing. Another was weaving around tables and hopping on one foot like the Karate Kid, alternating legs on Timbaland’s bass beat. And yes, they rushed in dressed like gym-rat caricatures: matching neon-green T-shirts, short-black shorts, knee-high tube socks, headbands. But all they were doing was dancing, albeit hilariously like nerds. Everyone else is cracking up, grinningly bemused by their “dorky tight moves” — except the man apparently in charge. So now the three dancing dudes are unceremoniously ushered out by a smirking bouncer, told to leave (ha!), and never to come back again (ha ha!).
Instead, they stand outside on the Boylston Street sidewalk and make fish faces in the front window.
This is 123 Party!, a Boston-based boombox-toting guerrilla-dance gang whose members go by Dice (#1), Blaze (#2), and Fury (#3). On nights like tonight, they’ll jog around heavily trafficked streets assaulting meatheads, drunken girls, and jam-packed bars with their silly-stupid dance moves. They’ll do high-kicks, cartwheels, fist pumps, mixing-bowl pelvic thrusts, and leapfrog jumps. They’ll grind against parking meters, walk on their hands, stare down speeding taxis, and hump moving buses. Later tonight when 123 Party! spots an open delivery truck, they climb onto the vehicle’s sloped ramp, dance in a descending line, and get the truck driver to dance while he loads a dolly of boxes. 123 Party! doesn’t take up a collection; they do this for fun.
“One drunken night [last spring] the three of us went to the Foggy Goggle,” says Fury, the 23-year-old spiky-haired aspiring comedy writer whose real name is Mike Perlman. “We started dancing crazily, and it became more and more exaggerated to the point where it was ridiculous and then absurd. We basically went so nuts in the place that everyone’s heads turned, and then everyone started dancing and partying . . . We realized, then and there, ‘Let’s get uniforms, let’s get names, and let’s do this.’ ”
Since then, 123 Party! has ambushed the public about 20 times, released two YouTube videos, performed at parties (including a Snakes on a Plane premiere and a Sweet Sixteen bash), and filmed a segment for FUSE’s Pants Off Dance Off that will air this November. They also have two choreographed dances, one of which is set to Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me ’Round (Like a Record),” and signature dorky moves. Fury does the backspin. Dice, the stubble-bald joker (whose real name is Mike Forst), rolls imaginary dice. And Blaze, a dreadlocked smartass named Robert Preston, does something he calls the “floppy jog.”
For a litany of reasons, this organized schtick pisses off private proprietors. Hence, the Rattlesnake isn’t the only place 123 Party! gets kicked out of tonight. In the span of two hours, they’re thrown out of the Prudential Mall (for the fourth time); Copley Place (where a female security guard watches them perform for about 15 minutes before politely telling them to leave); the CVS on Boylston (where the guard crossly points his walkie-talkie at them and mutters, “These dudes are retarded”); the Four Seasons (whose doorman bars them from the vestibule and then runs after them waving his cell phone and threatening to call the cops); Rustic Kitchen (where the hulking chef comes out of the kitchen to force them out); a plush charter bus that was parked in the Theatre District and left unlocked (when the driver materializes, Fury apologizes for mistaking this vehicle for their private “party bus”); and the Park Plaza Hotel (where an employee chases them around the lobby’s flower centerpiece, tells them to “get the fuck out,” and then viciously calls them “faggots” outside on the sidewalk).
Never mind that 123 Party! almost finds itself in a fistfight with three random men, one of whom grabs Fury by the neck like a rubber chicken, while about 30 bystanders watch.
What makes strangers like this, along with the hired authorities, especially angry is that nearly every time they ask 123 Party! to leave or to stop, Fury will (rather brilliantly) hold up the boombox to his ear and yell, “I can’t hear you! The music’s too loud!” Sometimes Blaze will mumble, No habla.
“Our mission is, unclench the butt cheeks of America,” says Fury, who graduated last spring from Emerson. “It’s bringing something to the night that you never expected.”
For that, people adore them. Girls, especially: every size, every shape, every age — even one who looks like a young Helena Christensen follows them from a hotel bar to the Alley. Throughout the night, onlookers encircle them, snap pictures, and wonder out loud, “What is this?” On Newbury Street, a video-camera wielding documentarian named Israel spots them and continues to shadow them for the rest of the night. After an hour, there’s a spectator parade of about 20 people in tow.
And one of them is Mike Croci. After trailing with some buddies for about 30 minutes, one of his friends whines about finding somewhere with alcohol. “You want to leave them?” asks Croci. “No way. This is my Heaven. Complete disregard for everyone else.”
On the Web
123 Party: //www.myspace.com/123_party