DON’T WORRY: The Celtics are not trading their front line for a chorus line.
I’ll admit that cheerleading teams have always irked me. A bunch of gals wearing skimpy outfits doing high kicks gets my feminist juices churning. I’ve been a competitive athlete my whole life, and not once has a guy wielded pompons for me — unless you count the time that drunken guy stumbled over to the tennis courts during a crucial collegiate match and yelled, “Show her your balls, Neely!” But he wasn’t even in a skimpy outfit, so it doesn’t really count.
Naturally, then, I had to put my hostilities aside this past Thursday night when I headed down to the Roxy for the Boston Celtics’ 2008–’09 Dance Team final auditions. After months of training, 40 hopefuls from across the country (and one from Australia) came together to compete for 17 spots (a tribute to the World Champions’ 17 titles) on next season’s squad.
The star-studded affair was hosted by WXKS-FM’s Billy Costa and featured a bevy of celebrity judges, including Celtics forward Glen “Big Baby” Davis, WBMX-FM hosts Kelly Malone and Greg Daniels, WFXT morning personality Doug Meehan, and American Idol season-five finalist and Boston College guard Ayla Brown.
Of course, the real attraction was on stage, where the finalists began by dancing a brief choreographed group routine, then changed from revealing dance attire into only slightly less revealing “interview outfits.” Then it was back into the skimpy outfits for solo dances and — the icing on Gloria Steinem’s cake — a swimsuit display. (The ladies, I might add, were all gorgeous — especially number 12, Alison Preston, on whom I’ve developed a small girl crush.)
In all, it made for an amusing amalgam of talent and sex, with enough booby and booty shaking to have made Russ Meyer proud.
But talented these ladies were. In fact, the one thing that kept my inner feminist at bay was that these women were incredibly poised, extraordinarily skilled, and mind-bogglingly physically fit. (The calves, the abs, the biceps, oh my!)
By the end of the night, 17 dancers were grinning from ear to ear, while 23 gals saw their dreams of shamrock fame crushed. I left with a newfound appreciation for professional cheerleading dance squads, a resolution to go to the gym more often, and a small concern about the status of my sexual orientation. (Hey, Alison, um, call me.)
To view photos and videos of the night’s festivities, visit nba.com/celtics/dancers.