Day by Day

Monday, August 25, 2003

Why Europeans (and others) often view America as, well, whatever

So it is back to rehearsing. They are to be the opening act tonight for an all-woman rock band called Concrete Blondes, who are headliners at a feminist music festival in town called "Estrojam". It's an important gig for the five, the biggest they have ever done. They are nervous and have to get the moves right. "George Bush and my bush, We're sitting by a tree. Said my bush to Georgie, Stay away from Me!" Suddenly, Eric and Margaret link hands and hoist Abigail, the smallest of the group, into the air. "George don't know jack about my Bush!" Someone leans out of a nearby apartment window and hoots approval.

It has been about a year since Lickity Split started subverting the all-American tradition of team cheerleading for political ends. They have kept the pompoms and the ear-to-ear saccharin smiles. And they gleefully display lots of flesh. (A little too much, you might say.) But this definitely is not the version of cheerleading you will see on the average college football field or as portrayed in films like American Beauty. Their energies are not going into perpetuating the macho image of the American jock, but rather into voicing anger at the system. Anger at Bush. Anger at homophobia. Anger at war. Anger at whatever.

And while they are the only group in Chicago, Lickity Split are hardly alone in the land. First dreamed up by two sisters in Florida six years ago as a new means of expressing political outrage, Radical Cheerleading is fast becoming a movement all of its own, with an estimated 100 squads trading clenched fists for pompoms in cities all across the United States and Canada. Watch out for them at a street demonstration near you soon.


Ah, well. I guess this is innovative...

Meet the ra-ra radicals

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