But it seems unlikely there will be a performance tonight. A torrential downpour is battering the stadium, and flat-screens in the locker room show stands dotted with hapless people in plastic hoods. The news is eventually bellowed throughout the stadium tunnels: The game has been canceled. The Manatees moan as they pack up. The routine they had prepared for tonight, which included some especially complicated booty-quaking, had already been put off after a rain cancellation earlier in the season. It comes with the territory for the Marlins, who are among the league leaders in weather postponements every summer.

These days, each scrapped game is a reminder of the team's retractable-roof stadium, slated to open in 2012. And, if the hype is to be believed, it will finally give Miami a true big-league identity. Which begs the question: Will the Marlins need goofy behemoths tramping on the field in the new, top-dollar palace? The front office so far has stayed mum.

"I don't know if they're going to want us," Mr. Mantastic says before adding somewhat cryptically, "It doesn't matter. Either way, we'll be there."

Classically trained "Chocolate Thunder" leads the crew in practice.
C. Stiles
Classically trained "Chocolate Thunder" leads the crew in practice.
As the Jumbotron attempts to squeeze them in, the Manatees salute their disco gods and finish with triumphant gusto on a Saturday night.
C. Stiles
As the Jumbotron attempts to squeeze them in, the Manatees salute their disco gods and finish with triumphant gusto on a Saturday night.

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Click the photo below to view images from January's tryouts.

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As he prepares to exit into the downpour, the tallest Manatee — six-foot-eight-inch Coach, by day a Miami-Dade physical education teacher — somberly leans into his Hawaiian colleague, Big Kahuna. He has an urgent query regarding the rain cancellation: "We still get paid, right?"

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