Erin Petersen

Would you be my date to the prom?

By - Sep 16th, 2010 04:00 am
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Photo courtesy foundphotoslj via Flickr

Dust off your cummerbunds and bust out your nicest Dyeables pumps — the prom is almost here.

I’m not talking about your high school’s “Enchantment Under the Sea” or “Dance beneath the Stars” (or, for every unfortunate graduating class at the turn of the new millennium, “Party Like it’s 1999”) socials; I’m talking the Pedal Pusher Prom, featuring (as always) “no free food, no free drinks, just the most awesome night of your life.”

If you haven’t heard of them by now, the Pedal Pushers are Milwaukee’s premier all-female bicycle gang, bent on breaking out of the boy’s club that was (and in some ways, still is) bike culture. Formed in 2005 in the living room one of Riverwest’s Polish flats, PPS is comprised of an ever-rotating number of ladies (and anyone that identifies as female) that are devoted to empowering women through cycling. Whether that means learning how to change your own tubes and tires or just feeling comfortable on the road, the PPS is here for you.

Members of the group summed their mission up perfectly in an interview with TCD last summer:

“We hope to create a bike culture free of oppression — including sexism, hetero-centrism and racism. Another value of ours is to be inclusive and empowering. No matter who you are, we don’t care what type of bike you ride, how you dress or what you look like — we just care that you bike, or want to bike!”

These ladies are trying to spread a whole lotta bike love across Milwaukee, and they like to have a little fun in the process. Most people know them as the creators of two hilariously kick-ass choreographed videos (to the tune of “Eye of the Tiger” and Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”) and for the last three years, they’ve hosted an annual adults-only prom to give people a fun excuse to get dolled up and hop on a bike.

Photo by Laura Maker

Why prom, you ask?

As I sit with PPSers Nicole Watson, Chelsea Muench, Angela Livermore, Heather Sewrey, Tegan Corrigan and Alison Hood during an evening planning session at Stonefly Brewery, this question is met both with giggles and silence. They stare across our outdoor picnic table, searching each other’s faces trying to pinpoint exactly how the idea came to be.

“I’m pretty sure it was a Susie idea,” says Nicole, referring to Susie Seidelman, one of the group’s founding members who is also known for an enthusiastic sense of humor. “I can just picture her saying ‘Dude! We should have a prom!’”

And so it was. The first PPS Prom was held in 2008, and a swath of wistful twenty and thirty-somethings showed up decked out in some of the best 1980’s-inspired evening wear you’ve ever seen. People danced while DJs spun sweet jams, made out in kissing booths and vied for position as prom king and queen. (Word on the street is that this year’s kissing booth is less of a “booth” and more of a hammock. Yow!)

But it’s not just about a bunch of adults getting soused while wearing bow ties and chiffon. It’s also about promoting local businesses and giving back to the community.

One lucky couple gussies up for the PPS Prom. Photo by Laura Maker

In 2009, all of the proceeds from the door were donated (roughly $400) to PEARLS for Teen Girls, a non-profit that serves at-risk girls in Milwaukee, aimed at reducing teen pregnancy and increasing high school graduation and college acceptance rates among girls of color.

This year, the $6 cover charge will go to benefit the Meta House, which offers transitional care and treatment programs for women recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

The first event in 2008 was held as a fundraiser for the group to create an initial budget, and that money was then funneled back into subsequent events to make posters and spoke cards and to buy decorations and prizes for fun contests like “best calves” or “best bike-themed tattoo.” Everything was purchased or donated from locally-owned stores, right down to the delicate corsages from Scarvaci Florists.

Whether you missed out on your own prom, or maybe want the chance to relive those glory days (only older, wiser and of legal drinking age), the Pedal Pusher Prom has consistently offered a “Night to Remember.”

So fluff those crushed velvet shoulder poofs, pump up those tires and wheel on over to Stonefly (735 E. Center St.) on Saturday, Sept. 18 for the Pedal Pusher Prom beginning at 10 p.m. and rocking til’ the wheels fall off at bar close. See you on the dance floor.

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