Fanatiks Crew thrills with talent, strength and humor

Shameer, Solo, and Aaron — the charismatic native Chicagoans of the Fanatiks Crew — dazzle crowds with high-flying acrobatics, colorful humor, and impeccable showmanship on Michigan Avenue nearly every day of the week.

Accompanied by a drum-n-bass track in front of the Wrigley Building, their performances generally begin with a standup routine that pokes fun at racial stereotypes while generating enthusiasm for the physical feats to come.

“When the beat drops, everybody must clap, rhythm or no rhythm,” Aaron informs the audience. “So white people, follow the black person next to you.”

As the crowds swell from dozens to hundreds, the Crew begins mixing aerial somersaults and acrobatic leaps with requests for donations.


Shameer, Solo, and Aaron. (Photo by Daniel Patton.)

The banter transforms into a call and response that keeps the audience laughing with contagious spontaneity. But, as Aaron explains, it’s all part of a well-rehearsed act.

“We have a script,” he says. “We use trigger words when we perform live.”

The humor is designed to underscore the Crew’s optimistic philosophy.

“We represent H.I.P.H.O.P.” he continues. “Healthy independent people helping other people.”

Aaron is a former Jesse White Tumbler who founded the Fanatics Crew a decade ago. He met Solo and Shameer through connections in the athletic, dance, and tumbling communities.

“I saw him street performing when he was sixteen,” says Solo, a former high school basketball and football player who wrestled for Iowa State. “It was the coolest thing ever.” Solo was the one who introduced Aaron to Shameer.

Shameer had been a dancer for 13 years when he learned the side freeze — “a plank where you hold yourself up with one hand” — and decided to add his groovy gymnastic finesse to the Crew.

“We were breakin’ and started doing shows and it just worked a lot better,” he says.

For the grand finale, Aaron leaps over six audience volunteers while completing a full sidways rotation in mid-air.

The feat not only lives up to the hype that precedes it, but also proves that the members of the Fanatiks Crew practice what they preach.

The entire performance is peppered with declarations about the trio’s commitment to hard work. Though they are taken seriously, the boasts never distract from the entertainment.

“We’re about fun and having a good time,” says Shameer.

Daniel Patton | Staff Writer

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