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WEEKLY WHINE

The THUMPAs of Yuri's Night

by Yuliya Ruvinskaya and Nathan S Brown

What do you get when you mix World War II aircraft, hula hoops, planets rotating on screens, platform shoes, green lasers, go-go dancers, a cockpit simulator, non-stressed Caltech students, and THUMPA THUMPA THUMPA? You get the Los Angeles edition of Yuri's Night 2002, the worldwide space party celebrated on the 12th of April every year.

The Museum of Flying in Santa Monica hosted the party, which afforded visitors the opportunity to see vintage aircraft suspended from the ceiling when they weren't trying to catch laser beams in their hands. DJs in the two rooms were able to find the building's resonant frequency with remarkable accuracy. Their trance and house beats [THUMPA THUMPA THUMPA] were audible for hundreds of meters outside the building; those who planned ahead brought earplugs.

The admission lines were kept short throughout the party. Arrivals were ushered in by men and women in black, and found themselves in the spacious confines of the Museum of Flying. The accommodations were luxurious, and the facilities were remarkably clean. Smoking was confined to the outside, as was talking due to the volume of music [THUMPA THUMPA THUMPA] and dancers. Anyone who tried to communicate inside had to do so using a Palm Pilot or Morse code, or risk breaking his vocal cords and being perceived as technologically unsavvy and non-133+. The non-133+s were ostracized by the community and promptly retreated to the balcony after obtaining a drink on the way.

Due to the low cockpit simulator-to-attendee ratio, most people had to improvise flight and low-gravity conditions on their own. Many did so by bouncing, thrashing their arms as though they were propellers, and orbiting other dancers [THUMPA THUMPA THUMPA]. Their advanced level of preparation was evidenced by the fact that no one got hurt. Some may attribute this fact to a miracle, but there are no miracles in nature!

There were two cosmonauts; two space devils [one with flashing horns]; a few aliens with antennae and exaggerated ears; numerous spacewomen in short, glittery dresses, 4+ inch platforms, and neon-colored wigs; and such celebrities as Sean Mauch [ex-AMa95 head TA/God], Mr and Mrs Weiwei Yang ["Nice shirt! Take it off!"], Ayeh Bandeh-Ahmadi [webmistress and Cosmo Woman], and physicist Stephen Hawking [don't we wish!]. Sean's admirers showed their respect by emulating his dancing style [THUMPA THUMPA THUMPA], and though they tried, none came close. The colors of the night were silver and HeNe-laser green.

A hot place to be was the VIP room on the second level. Boasting transparent glass walls and a large round table with an illuminated globe with a political map of the world [similar to one seen in Austin Powers], it served as a gathering place for a number of suckers who bought VIP tickets, and were stuck there with drinks in hand. Like gorillas in a zoo, they looked longingly at the outside, where passers by were having fun [THUMPA THUMPA THUMPA] and poking fingers at them, but did not leave, as the entrance was blocked by one of the men in black.

In addition to the 41st anniversary of the first flight in space and the 21st anniversary of the first Space Shuttle launch, partygoers celebrated such momentous occasions as the birthday of graduate student Loretta Hidalgo, a cofounder of the event. The non-lazy and not-so-easily-amused who tried to venture to the third level could not reach it, as a private wedding reception was taking place. The newlyweds - a science fiction writer and a self-proclaimed rocket scientist - met at Yuri's Night 2001, and, thinking how there cannot be too much of a good thing, decided to come back in an effort to meet more cool people [what bride does not dream to have a reception to the sounds of THUMPA THUMPA THUMPA?!]. It is dubious that they went about achieving this goal the right way, as they did not admit most cool people to their reception - the space devils, the Yangs, and Sean Mauch were seen on the first and second level at all times, celebrating with Loretta. Perhaps next year, the happy couple will have a baby at Yuri's Night 2003. So come and participate! You're welcome to emulate Yuri Gagarin, but please, refrain from relieving yourself on the tires.

An archive of the Yuri's Night 2002 webcast is rumored to be making an appearance soon at http://www.yurisnight.net/.

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