Gabe Allred is circling through the parking lot of UNLV’s Flora Dungan building, offering new arrivals plastic flowers attached to twist ties that he’s calling “bike boutonnieres.” He’s the organizer of Las Vegas’s first bike prom.
“I’d heard about it happening in other cities, so I thought we should have one here,” Allred says, grinning as he adjusts his bike cap and threads a thumb through one suspender.
The idea is simple: Take a bunch of cyclists way past high school, who probably didn’t enjoy their own proms anyhow, and add a five-mile group bike ride that ends with prom-like festivities. For the Vegas edition last Friday, the destination was Artifice, a newish Downtown watering hole decked out with crepe paper, balloons, disco lights and an enthusiastic DJ. Complementing the theme: biking video footage projected against one wall and a bike valet for those arriving on two wheels instead of four.
The fat raindrops falling sporadically before the ride may have kept some away, but more than 60 prom-clad bicycle enthusiasts showed, wearing everything from suspenders and bowties to spandex tops and tutu skirts. Of course, prom means different things to different people. For the fixed-gear crowd, it seemed to mean 1895. For others, it was 1985. Apparently those were two really great years for post-high school dances, because few other eras were represented. The DJ, however, sided with the ’80s crowd for obvious reasons.
The party’s atmosphere was festive and open, drawing a diverse group including big, bearded guys drinking Tecate and skinny pro-cyclist types. Nick Grill, one of the latter, said, “I don’t usually go to things like this. I’m missing a race tomorrow for it, but I think it’s worth it.” The ladies in attendance also ran the gamut, including at least one who looked like she was her high school’s actual prom queen (complete with real corsage and matching-attired king). As more drinks were consumed, the whispered concern of the night was riding home without the big group’s protection. Luckily everyone made it with body and virtue intact—a far cry from real prom.