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‘Hunks vs. Punks Dance Party’ recalls era of chokers, torn jeans

For many in their 20s and 30s, the early 2000s were perhaps the first time they were paying attention to popular culture. The ’90s kids have entered adulthood, and the cycle of nostalgia has swung around once more to the era of Razor scooters, Britney Spears and “Shrek.”

At the Aggie Theatre, the 2000s returned to delight Old Town travelers with songs of the era in a four-hour till-midnight dance party.

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For Colorado State University graduates Madison Scruggs and Shelby Taylor-Thorn, the creators and emcees for the event, the early 2000s were about one core division: the distinction between the hunks, with their bright poppy colors and boy bands, and the punks, who followed the alt-rock lifestyle draped in leather and torn denim. And so the Hunks vs. Punks Dance Party was born.

Defining hunk and punk was a common question for the duo, who currently fall on opposite sides of the spectrum. Scruggs considers herself a hunk, whereas Taylor-Thorn speaks for the punks.

Hunks vs. Punks 2000s Dance Party at the Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins Old Town. (Pratyoosh Kashyap | The Collegian)

“A hunk is basically a fan of early 2000s pop,” said Scruggs, who is the assistant brand manager and afternoon DJ for 99.9 The Point, a music variety radio station in Northern Colorado. “It’s not just the dudes. It’s the girls who like to wear pink and had a Baby Phat phone, wore choker necklaces and watched ‘Mean Girls’ growing up.”

“I’ve got the rebels; I’ve got the Blink-182 and the Sum 41 and the skate punk,” said Taylor-Thorn, assistant brand manager and DJ for 94.3 The X, an alternative rock station in Northern Colorado. “In middle school I think I actually identified more as a hunk, but by high school I was more of a punk. (Punk) music is really coming back now because we’re all about 30 and nostalgic for our teen years.”

The inspiration for a themed dance party goes back to 2018 when Emo Nite, a traveling dance party, came through Fort Collins on Halloween.

“We went to Emo Nite, and we had so much fun just dancing to music that we grew up with and dressing up,” Scruggs said. “It was just an event that we were like ‘We don’t see this in Fort Collins often, and they probably aren’t going to come back for a while.”

Taylor-Thorn added this event is a good way to mix genres and audiences. 

“We wanted to reach both of our audiences together,” Taylor-Thorn said. “She’s got the pop, and I’ve got the rock. Hunks vs. Punks is what we came out with because it rhymed.”

The stage was arranged with roller skates and an old Barbie CRT Television to one side, with amps, a guitar and CD jewel cases. The mixture of stage props represented the competing styles of the era but bringing them together at center stage was a “friends forever” photograph showing Scruggs and Taylor-Thorn together.

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“The same crowd that wants to get down to Britney Spears also can get down to Panic! At the Disco,” Scruggs said. “It was a good mesh, but also we are BFFs in real life, so we just wanted an excuse to do an event together.”

She’s got the pop, and I’ve got the rock. Hunks vs. Punks is what we came out with because it rhymed.” -Shelby Taylor-Thorn

The party was a collaboration between the radio stations, providing a mix of all the best music of the 2000s. The audience picked their sides going in, though nothing could stop the punkiest punks from bopping to NSYNC or the hardcore hunks from headbanging to My Chemical Romance. For some, though, the lines were drawn, and any enjoyment from the enemy team was begrudgingly accepted.

“Based on that Good Charlotte song, I fall into punks,” said Tony Vindell, a doctoral student at CSU who attended the party. “(Hunk music) is maybe so bad it’s good.”

Graham Shapley can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @shapleygraham.

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