Bike troupe entertainment cut short

The Sprockettes slipped a gear on Thursday when police put the breaks on a noisy impromptu performance in Lithia Park.

"We wanted to share the love, and the pink," said Sprockette Carol Penner, who goes by Agent Feral.

"But police are police, and they do what they do," said fellow Sprockette Lauren Peterson, who goes by Agent Lapass, as the group packed up to leave town as quickly as they arrived just one hour earlier.

The Sprockettes are an all-woman dance troupe from Portland who perform on mini-bicycles. On their way to gigs in San Francisco and Truckee, Calif., they decided to stop in Ashland for a surprise show.

But Ashland police said a number of people called and complained about the amplified music emanating from their 1976 GMC bus that runs on "veggie oil," a form of biodiesel made from recycled cooking oil.

"We didn't even get through our first song," Penner said. "The officer said if we allow you [to perform] it will happen all the time. I thought, 'Wouldn't it be awesome if this happened all the time?'"

Not according to police.

"It's a violation of the park rules, you have to go through a permit process," said Downtown Patrol Officer Teri DeSilva. "I feel bad but those are the rules of the park. There was one disgruntled individual on the bus, but other than that they were compliant."

Compliant, maybe, but happy about the situation, the Sprockettes were not.

"It seems like if you are not here to shop, then you are the kind of person Ashland doesn't want here," Emilina Dissette &

aka Agent Pulse ""said. "I don't see any reason why we can't dance in the park with our bikes. Ashland has a huge bike community. I wish we could have performed here."

Dissette said Officer DeSilva was friendly to them, once she realized they didn't know they were breaking the rules.

The Sprockettes left Portland earlier Thursday. They regularly perform in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, and have been featured on National Public Radio. This is their first swing into the southern reaches of the Pacific Northwest.

Their Web site ( says, "In a basic sense it is our mission to entertain audiences by choreographing dances to songs while using bikes in our performances. In a broader sense, our mission is to support and interact with our community to advocate and promote bicycle riding" and "empower and inspire people to live out their crazy and wildest dreams."

Upon arriving in Ashland, they made a few swings up and down Winburn Way, announcing over a bus-based PA system, "Sprockettes show on the Plaza."

The show ended up in Lithia Park, and Peterson said it was well-received before it abruptly ended.

"About 30 or 40 people gathered around," she said. "We dance on, near and with our bikes and do different tricks."

Despite their run-in with the law, most Sprockettes had mostly nice things to say about Ashland.

"It's a beautiful city, and the people are really nice," Peterson added, as the last of the Sprockettes loaded into their bus and headed south out of town for their next impromptu stop before arriving in San Francisco for their scheduled performance on Saturday.

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 x. 226 or .

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