The son of one of the famed Thrasher Brothers, Alan Thrasher may not be a singer but he is entertaining people with his moves.
The Birmingham, Alabama, motorcoach operator and his Magic Disco City crew recently created a video showing off their dance skills. What makes the video extra special is that it combines his buses and dancing.
“We wanted to spread a little joy to the bus people. We found a way to do it with that video,” said Thrasher, a United Motorcoach Association board member.
He’s been with the mostly female dance group for nearly four years. They are part of a street performance trend that emerged after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 wiped out many of the extravagant Mardi Gras parade floats used in celebrations.
Rolling in style
What began as eight people grew to more than 60, and they were having a blast hitting the parade circuit. Of course, with Thrasher in the group, they rolled in style.
“We worked all kinds of different parades,” said Thrasher. “We would show up in an entertainer coach down in New Orleans, looking like rock stars.”
He brought dancers to a Trailways Convention three years ago, and people are still talking about how that was “the greatest disco-themed party ever,” he said.
Before the pandemic, the group practiced in a school gymnasium or outside on the track. They tried switching their practices online after stay-at-home orders were issued, but it wasn’t the same.
“How are you going to practice at home looking at the Zoom screen? Very ineffective. Me, personally, I just enjoy sitting and having a drink watching other people try to practice,” Thrasher said.
The perfect location
As the group was figuring out an alternative, Thrasher realized he owned the perfect location.
“I’ve got a big giant parking lot. Our buses are all parked over on the side. They’re not going anywhere. ‘Why don’t we practice at my place? So, every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., we put tape down on the ground so everybody had their 10 square feet to practice in.”
They decided to make a video. While “Double Dutch Bus” technically isn’t a disco song, the 1981 hit seemed perfect for the performance in Thrasher’s bus yard.
The video features some classic buses because Thrasher is currently storing two vintage Greyhounds — GMC PD4106 and GMC PD4905 models — that will soon be showpieces in a renovated Greyhound station in Birmingham.
For the video, they created a backdrop of six buses in a semicircle and had the dancers stream out the doors and the luggage compartments.
Thousands have watched the video that he shared on Facebook. Some of the best reaction has come from a Facebook group for motorcoach operators and enjoyed seeing their responses.
“The comments from the motorcoach operators have been fantastic — ‘We love it!’ ‘Wish we could do that!’ One of them wants to start a group in Canada. I’m getting comments from California to Canada about, ‘Oh that looks so fun. I wish we were doing that in our shop.’ I’m just trying to cheer people up,” Thrasher said.
He says there will be more videos, but they likely won’t include the buses.
Along with his dancing, Thrasher has a following for his Facebook cooking show.
“The people love it because I throw things. It’s a very noisy thing but, when I finish with a dish, I literally throw it across the kitchen,” he said.
Band to buses
His second-generation business, Thrasher Brothers Trailways, is named after his dad and uncles’ band. Their careers were launched after winning one of the first televised amateur hours in 1953. The band, which began as a Southern Gospel quartet that eventually turned to country music, retired in 1987.
“That’s how dad got into the bus industry. He was buying a bus for the band to tour in. He ended up being one of the pioneers of the custom bus entertainer coach industry,” Thrasher said. “He was one of the original guys that took a Silver Eagle and built bunks into it in the late ’60s and ’70s. He was the biggest rock ‘n’ roll (transportation) company in the ’70s.”
As competitors took away market share, he shifted over to the seated coach side.
“Thrasher is a stronger brand than Trailways in our market, simply because we’ve made it so,” said Thrasher of his company that will turn 50 next year.
Until motorcoach transportation picks back up, though, he plans to continue making videos and appearing on his cooking show and entertaining those who watch.