Hey daddio, listen here. We know you’ve been itching to join our rough and tumble street gang, but I’ve got bad news, bucko: you just don’t got the stuff it takes to roll with the Jets. Sure, in an ordinary gang, you might have to off a guy or something to prove yourself, but that’s simply not enough for us—you need to be able to pirouette too.
I mean, how would you even manage to complete everyday gang activities like leaping and twirling if you aren’t classically trained in ballet? Everybody knows a cornerstone of organized street crime is frolicking down your turf like you’re Ginger Rogers. And if you can’t do a toe touch, you’re putting us all at risk. Why do you think we’re called the Jets anyways? Named ourselves after the ballet move grand jeté, obviously.
That’s why we pick up most of our recruits by lurking outside Lincoln Center and Juilliard at the end of the day and taking in wayward dance students. It’s the only way to properly equip ourselves to face off with rival gangs like the Sharks, or the Rockettes.
Don’t take it personally, buddy ol’ pal; we’ve had to cut others for far less. Would you believe we had people audition—I mean, apply—to be a Jet when they didn’t even know how to snap their fingers? Totally useless! How do they expect to walk with us in unison across a playground?
And we hate to turn anyone away, we really do. Heck, we need the numbers. We lose half our ranks when The Nutcracker goes into production. But you’re just not up to snuff yet, maybe take a few acrobatic classes and try again.
You see, we need intimidating tough guys, like Baby John and Joyboy. Basically, if it sounds like you were named after a cartoon bunny, you’re in. And, naturally, you have to be able to brawl and rumble with choreographed precision in complete silence so everybody can hear the Leonard Bernstein score clearly. After all, we can’t have you embarrassing us at one of the dances that rival street gangs famously always attend together.
We get why you’re so keen to join us, buddy boy. We own this buggin’ street, and not in an Adopt-a-Highway kind of way. More in a “we put our name on it so it’s ours to twirl on” kind of way. After all, if we write our name on it, it’s ours. Office refrigerator rules. And if you’re really bad to the bone, you might even paint a big ol’ STINKS under a rival gang’s tag. That’ll show ’em. Oh, just talking about it makes me wanna do some good ol’ fashion clobbering. Pow! Bam! Step! Kick! Kick! Leap! Kick! Touch! Cicero! Lipshitz!
But don’t give up hope. Keep trying. After all, you’ve got the whistling part down, and that’s half the battle. And once you’re in, we’ll have your back—gee whizz, we’ll be able to do so many lifts and spins—not to mention all the perks. You get to hang out on any fire escape or playground you want, group ticket rates for local dances at the gym, and while most gangs might get a kick-butt leather jacket or matching tattoos, being a Jet comes with your very own dance belt.
It ain’t all sunshine and roses, though, kiddo. People think we’re a bunch of hoodlums and punks just because we goof around and drink soda pop and do some occasional murderin’. But if we sing a li’l song about it to the copper and distract him with some good ol’ fashioned musical theater, then we can usually get off scot-free. So, sure, being a Jet might have its downsides, but for the most part, it’s the swingingest thing. Because when company’s expected, you’re well protected.
Like we say, when you’re a Jet, you stay a Jet. Mainly because muscle memory makes it impossible to forget our choreography.