Editor’s Note: All names have been changed to vague character descriptions to protect the identity and privacy of all individuals who participated in these interviews. Except Shelby. Shelby didn’t care.
In an independent bookstore popular among both students and locals, there exists an exclusive club unbeknownst to all but a select few students at the University of Michigan.
When they aren’t spending their days poring over the written works of Nietzsche and Rimbaud, Michigan’s most ardent anarchists gather in this off-campus location and prepare themselves for an evening of pure, unadulterated aggression. Punches and kicks are thrown, blood runs rampant and casual conversation ensues amongst members every Sunday and Wednesday night after the sun sets and the streets clear.
This is the University’s Fight Club, an organization absent from the University’s MaizePages and governed by seven imperative rules:
1. You don’t talk about Fight Club.
2. You DO NOT talk about Fight Club.
3. If someone says “stop,” taps out or decides to take a refreshing water break, the fight is over.
4. One fight at a time. There is limited space so we can’t destroy the premises or else we’ll have to go through the rounds of finding a new location. And we all know how long that took last time. I’m looking at you, Shelby.
5. No shoes, no jewelry and no children under the age of 13.
6. Fights will go on as long as they have to. Unless they last longer than five hours. No one wants to be here that long.
7. If this is your first time at Fight Club, you HAVE to fight. If it’s your second, then here, enjoy a blueberry scone.
The president of the club, like all of its members, only agreed to be interviewed on the condition that his identity remain anonymous. When asked about his year and major for this article, he referred to himself as both an LSA senior and a sophomore in the Stamps School of Art & Design.
“It’s kind of the first rule of Fight Club. You can’t talk about it,” Anonymous President said in an interview with The Michigan Daily.
So Daily Arts spoke to him about it. Having experienced a dramatic decline in membership over the past school year, Fight Club has been forced to abandon their holiest commandments in their desperation for fresh, unbloodied faces. As an organization completely independent from the University, membership is imperative.
“Every week, someone is in charge of snacks and someone else has to lead the recovery meditation and yoga session,” Anonymous Member with Nose Ring said, wiping the blood from his nose and reaching for a scone. “We’re all about teamwork, seeing as we’re entirely self-funded.”
“We originally started organizing here because the owner was generous enough to provide refreshments at their one-of-a-kind cafe,” Unibrow-Sporting Anonymous Member added as she dodged a swing from an oncoming student, took a kick to the groin and went crashing to the floor.
The club was first invented by Anonymous President in the fall of 2012.
“I originally got the idea from a Chuck Palahniuk book,” he said. “You should really check it out. It’s called ‘Lullaby.’ ”
Over the years, the University’s Fight Club has morphed and changed with its membership. Beginning as a Pink Floyd cover band in Anonymous President’s father’s garage, the club initially included three other members besides A.P. himself: Anonymous Drummer, Anonymous Guitarist and Anonymous Tambourinist.
“First, we were all about the music — it was electric,” Anonymous President said. “But when (Anonymous Guitarist) got electrocuted plugging in the amp one day, everything changed. We’d never seen anything like it. After that near-death experience, all we wanted to do was recreate that feeling of terror, of energy.”
It wasn’t until Anonymous Tambourinist took a swing at Anonymous Guitarist for suggesting that “maybe he should turn down his mic, and maybe take a few steps back, and then a few more” that the ragtag group of students realized what they were searching for — pure, unadulterated aggression.
And from there, it took off. Four members soon became three after losing Anonymous Guitarist to the Ross School of Business, and for a moment the creators considered giving up. Then, membership began to soar.
“I’m still not completely sure how people found out about it, but people just started to show up to my dad’s house on Thursday nights,” Anonymous President said. “I think most of them were trying to get back to North Campus, but when they saw us beating each other up, they sort of just joined in.”
Hospital fees and eviction hit the fledgling group like a bombshell, however, and they were forced out onto the streets. It was during this time that the bitterness started to creep up on the members, as the Ann Arbor Police Department repeatedly intervened in their fights in the middle of the Diag.
Officer Hoffman, a firsthand witness to the early meetings of the group, was reluctant to divulge information.
“It was a mess,” Hoffman said. “They were gathering anywhere they could — the UGLi, the Diag, Meijer, the First United Methodist Church of Ann Arbor. It was all we could do to get them off campus before they developed political stances.”
And develop political stances, they did.
Enraged by the “disrespect and dismissal” of the Ann Arbor Police Department, Division of Public Safety and Security and Neighborhood Watch, The Periwinkle Sandal (a name elected by early members of UMFC) took to the streets with their rage, painting pink circle-As all over Ann Arbor.
“It was meant to cause an outrage, but we messed up,” Anonymous Member with Sunglasses said, lying in a pool of his own blood. “The As were painted too closely together, and people just thought it was community pride. We accidentally created a brand.”
So they took to the basements, bars and ditches that would support their violent endeavors. Their punches and kicks revealed the students’ pent-up rage that mostly stemmed from suspended bitterness toward roommates who “wouldn’t load their goddamn dishes,” as Anonymous Member with a Rope Braid Headband described.
“It’s not like I’m asking her to go to a river, stick it in and wash it with some leaves,” he said as Anonymous Member with Crackle Nail Polish understandingly wrapped an arm around his shoulder. “Just place it on a rack and close the door. It’s so simple, and I feel like if she can’t respect her coffee mugs, how will she ever respect me as a long-term partner in this relationship?”
“Over the years, our mission statement has definitely evolved,” Anonymous Member with Crackle Nail Polish said. “Therapy plays a larger part than it did before. Adrenaline was the focus when it first formed, but as years progressed, a couple heroin addictions caused the dismissal of certain members and — let’s say we found a new direction.”
Initially an all-male group in the early years, UMFC strove for and achieved gender inclusivity with this new direction. Rules that were originally scrawled on two broken tombstones found in the Bob and Betty Beyster Building by one of the members were finally revisited and thought about in a broader, more politically correct context.
“Originally it was ‘No shirt, no shoes’ but, for obvious reasons, we changed it to ‘No shoes, no jewelry,’” Anonymous Member with Crackle Nail Polish said. “People kept bringing barbed wire and calling it jewelry. There’s only so many tetanus shots we can afford to cover.”
Another issue came when Shelby, an LSA junior, brought her 8-year-old brother Joshua to one of the meetings.
“Of course we weren’t going to say anything to her face — her parents are going through a rough divorce,” Anonymous Member with Crackle Nail Polish said. “The little guy came and watched the whole meeting, and when he just loved it we were all a little relieved. But then, the next week was Festifall, and that’s when shit went down.”
“Festifall 2014,” Anonymous President said. “Boy, was that a day. I remember walking through the Diag — I’d just picked up a flyer for a great new yoga club — and seeing, right by Mason Hall, a booth. Can you believe it? Shelby had actually set up a booth to advertise the club, and her brother Josh created all these adorable posters with all this ClipArt blood and a picture of a dead body.”
“After that, we slipped ‘no children under the age of 13’ into the bylaws,” Anonymous Member with Crackle Nail Polish said. “Of course, Shelby was also removed from the group, and we worked out with Central Student Government that Josh will never be allowed to attend the University. We can’t have people violating the bylaws.”
Since the kerfuffle with CSG, members of UMFC have become more disillusioned about the idea of a central government in general, even advocating for anarchy all together. When asked about their political leanings in the 2016 presidential election, most members of UMFC declined to answer.
“You’re missing the whole point if you’re expecting us to endorse one candidate over another,” Anonymous President said. “That said, if we had to pick one, it’d be Bernie.”
Anarchy, socialism, avant-garde therapy and violence — UMFC embraces it all.
“Society has a stigma on violence and constantly presents it in a bad light,” Anonymous Member with a Rope Braid Headband said. “We’re all about flipping it around, taking a sociological perspective and making people realize, ‘Hey, I could use a safe space to let out my anger at my ineffective GSI, and also integrals.’”
In pursuit of transcendence and survival, the members of UMFC have abandoned the club’s ancient rules requiring strict privacy in hopes of saving it. While certain legalities prevent UMFC from being considered a student organization, by opening up their doors to the public, they hope to be greeted with an understanding and enthusiastic student population, one that accepts their unique therapeutic rituals for what they are and even provides first aid assistance in emergencies.
“Violence is a turn-off for some people,” Anonymous President said. “Most people, in fact. But we’re looking for that 1 percent that finds it intriguing. After all, Greek life freely exists on campus, so why can’t we?”
Editor’s note: This is part of an April Fool’s parody B-Side issue. All events and individuals depicted are fictional (to the best of our knowledge). But seriously, Shelby sucks.