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In 1982, this party went underground — literally — to a Baltimore tunnel

At a party thrown by the group Bal Tim Ore Underground Club (BTOUC) in 1982, folks mill about in a tunnel beneath the Howard Street shopping district.
At a party thrown by the group Bal Tim Ore Underground Club (BTOUC) in 1982, folks mill about in a tunnel beneath the Howard Street shopping district. (Baltimore Sun files)

The year was 1982. A group of artists calling themselves the Bal Tim Ore Underground Club (BTOUC) took the term “underground” to a very literal level when they held a party in a tunnel that stretches from the old Mount Royal Station to Camden Yards.

Built around 1895, the tunnel runs beneath the Howard Street shopping district. The day of the party, the organizers “borrowed” some traffic cones to cordon off a manhole at Howard and Lexington streets, through which guests could enter the party.

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There, in the bowels of the city, decor included much graffiti and a plywood replica of a transistor radio labeled “AS Radio.” No trains passed through the tunnel during the party, but organizers assured guests that they could simply jump off the train tracks and cling to the walls if it were to happen.

To escape the suspicion of the local authorities, organizer Randy Hoffman donned a blue jumpsuit, hardhat and goggles. “A cop stopped by to ask what we were doing,” Hoffman told The Sun’s Dave Ettlin. “I said we were from BTOUC, and we were working on the tracks.”

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The police officer bought it – and drove off.

The group was underground, but members were welcoming: they invited in two New Jersey truck drivers that had passed by to ask for directions.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly characterized the Howard Street Tunnel. The tunnel is still in use. The Sun regrets the error.

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