Look out, cheerleaders are coming to Beijing. The Wall Street Journal China Blog has an interesting story about an Olympics cheerleading squad that is being trained for the Games by the New England Patriots cheerleaders.
BMX bike competitions won’t be the only American-inspired novelty at
the Beijing Games. There will also be cheerleading—with nunchuks.For about two weeks, China has been training almost 600 women in the
art of twirling pom-poms, nunchuks and fans, as seen in this video:
I think we saw some of these gals in their early days at a baseball game back in March. It was pretty funny. It also reminded me of the first time I saw a cheerleading squad, years ago, in Changchun. I think it was around 1994, and China had just launched a professional basketball league. Changchun had a team called The Northeast Tigers (Dongbei Hu Dui), made up of budding Chinese players and American cast-offs from the NBA. Michael Jordan was wildly popular in China at the time, and the locals assumed that all of the African-American players on the team were either him, or could play just like him. These games were held in the winter, (Changchun climate is similar to Minnesota), and the arena where they played was not heated. All bundled up to go to the games, we looked like we were going ice-fishing, not to a basketball game. At the first game we attended, I remember noticing that there were some young girls sitting at the edge of the court, wearing big green army coats. That didn’t seem out of place, since it was 40 degrees in the arena, and almost everyone was wearing a big green army coat! Then, as soon as the ref blew the whistle for the first time out, these girls threw off their army coats, and ran onto the court. They were cheerleaders — the LA LA DUI –, dressed in skimpy outfits, and waving pom-poms. We were dumbfounded, the fans were confused, and the cheerleaders looked embarrassed. I’m sure nobody in Changchun had ever seen anything like this. As soon as they were done with their routine, they ran back to the sidelines, and took refuge once again in their army jackets.
Since I happen to believe that cheerleading is the absolute oddest of American subcultures, I can’t say that I’m thrilled at this development. It should, nonetheless, be entertaining! Besides, la la dui is one of my favorite Chinese terms. It’s just fun to say!