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1985 Bears Coverage: Boogie with the Bears

Every day of the 2015 Chicago Bears season, Chicago Sun-Times Sports will revisit its coverage 30 years ago during the 1985 Bears’ run to a Super Bowl title.

1985 Bears Coverage: Boogie with the Bears

Patricia Smith

Originally published Dec. 27, 1985

Like most people, I didn’t know that the Bears were party animals.

But there was the proof, high above my head on a massive video screen. My wildest dreams had come true.

The beat struck me first. Then I listened to the words and looked up to see my boys, resplendent in blue/white/orange, all rappin’, rockin’ and puttin’ Michael Jackson to shame.

“We are the Bears Shufflin’ Crew;

Shufflin’ on down, doin’ it for you.

We’re so bad, we know we’re good.

Blowin’ your mind like we knew we would.

You know we’re just struttin’ for fun;

Struttin’ our stuff for everyone.

We’re not here to start no trouble:

We’re just here to do the Super Bowl Shuffle.”

There was Willie Gault sporting a deadly hip swivel. Mike Singletary looking menacing and filling the screen. Gary Fencik displaying pretty good rhythm. The Fridge being. . . well, the Fridge.

That did it. I’d always suspected that the Bears might know how to party and that that was the true reason behind their gridiron success. Now, at last, I was being proven correct. The boys are baaaaad.

So, trying to get in step with the beat, I put on my dancing shoes (the ones with the cleats) as soon as I reached home, plus my tremendously sexy “Monsters of the Midway” sweatshirt. I picked up the telephone and dialed the Bears office.

My objective was simple: I wanted to know where the Bears party, and I wanted to go there and party with them.

“Chicago Bears.” A clipped voice, very precise.

“Hey, guys! I wanna party with the team. Point me in the right direction.”

“Just a moment, I’ll transfer you.”

I finally reached the bigwigs and, much to my surprise, they read me the riot act: A crazy idea. An invasion of the players’ privacy.

In other words, no dice.

I was being denied access to my team. Well, no problem. After all, how difficult could it be to find several 200-pound-plus gentlemen rumbling away the day’s tensions on a dance floor? Even if I didn’t actually see them, I’d feel the tremors.

So with a dab of Dan Marino-scented cologne behind my ears (that would certainly flush them out) and a gallon jug of Gatorade (with luck it would be a long, tiring evening), I stalked the cold, misty streets of Chicago – the home of the next Super Bowl champions (or at least “Dance Fever” winners).

I wasn’t lookin’ for trouble. I was lookin’ for Bears. Boogieing variety.

I knew that, contrary to popular belief, the boys don’t boogie in their uniforms as they do in the video. When they’re in their party attire, they look just like regular guys. OK, very big regular guys.

As it turned out, now that they’re also real, honest-to-goodness celebrities, they’re a pretty secretive bunch.

Suddenly, without warning, my feet began to wiggle. Bear alert!

Funny thing, though: I was no longer in Chicago; I was in Schaumburg standing directly in front of a place called Studebaker’s.

Studebaker’s, it seems, is owned by one Mr. Walter Payton.

Right away, I sensed partyin’ Bears. I was there. At the time, they weren’t. But my feet wouldn’t stop bouncin’, so I knew they’d been there.

According to kitchen manager Linda Conley, “They party here quite a bit, with or without Walter. Every other day, one comes strolling through. Everyone’s been through at least once, except for Fridge – I haven’t seen him yet. They just stroll in – Gary Fencik, Dennis McKinnon, Otis Wilson.”

They just stroll in? Every other day?

Conley puts together the buffet for the gang. And if the Bears make the Super Bowl, the definitive party probably will be at Studebaker’s. The address, in case you’d like to do your own stalking, is 1251 E. Golf Rd., and the phone number is 843-3434.

Maybe it’s my imagination – but isn’t that faintly reminiscent of a certain Bear’s jersey number?

My feet were wigglin’ again – wigglin’ hard. I didn’t have the faintest idea of how I got there – but I was in the Hunt Club, 1983 N. Clybourn (549-3020). Gary Fencik is a partner in the place. And it was at the Hunt Club that manager Monroe Booth uttered the four words I had suspected might be a standard response:

“You just missed them.”


“They were here last night. You just missed them. Kevin Butler, Tom Thayer, William Perry, Keith Van Horne – they were all here. They’re here almost all the time, especially on Sunday nights, when Gary Fencik’s WMAQ Radio show is broadcast from here.

“People call here all the time. They drive by and peek inside. Suddenly everyone wants to see the Bears,” Booth said.

But I want to party with them. I want Jim McMahon to dance so hard that his sunglasses fall off. I want someone to have to send Steve Fuller in to dance for him.

Booth’s reply: “Anything’s possible. Come by and try your luck.”

Thanks loads.

My toes tingled a little as I strolled down Rush Street, but my feet refused to wiggle convincingly. The consensus is that Bears are often seen on the strip, but usually, when they step into a club there, they’re being paid a promotional fee. And, as everyone knows, it’s awfully hard to party hearty when you’re making a promotional appearance.

My toes told me that there are other places where the team hangs out. Keith Van Horne was feted recently by his buddies with a surprise birthday party at the Prime Minister, 3355 Milwaukee in Northbrook (296-4423), which is also frequented by team leader McMahon.

According to Rick Marciano, “proud proprietor” of Alcock’s, 411 S. Wells (922-1778), “My place is a rock ‘n’ roll neighborhood bar and McMahon, Butler, Van Horne are in here quite a bit.” He wasn’t just blowing his own horn. Bears have been spotted there.

But I hadn’t spotted any – and boy, was I tired.

Wearily, I stopped in Wieboldt’s to pick up a pair of comfy inner soles for my now-decimated dancing (walking?) shoes.

Suddenly my feet began to shake. To quake. To rumble. It was definitely partying time.

In Wieboldt’s?

I looked up to see my first honest-to-goodness Bear. No. 45. The man with the rhythm. Gary Fencik, making one of those aforementioned, and recently very frequent, promotional appearances.

“Sure, I like to party. But don’t look for me to boogie at the Hunt Club, because I’m usually working when I’m there. You’ll find me at Park West, which I think is a great place to listen to a concert because it’s so intimate. And I love blues bars,” Fencik said.

But – are you a dancer?

“The guys have given me a lot of grief since the video. But I think I’ve gotten better.”