Two articles have given us cause to wonder: Are over-40 dance crews the Next Big Thing?
Okay, maybe declaring older cheerleaders the next Rollerderby is a little premature, but after reading the piece published yesterday in the LA Times about the Ole Skool Dance Crew, and then another today regarding the Japan Pom Pom, we sense a trend. The Ole Skool Dance Crew cheers for the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks and is composed entirely of women over 40. The median age of the Japan Pom Pom squad is 66. While I'm not normally one to flip over cheerleaders, it is pretty great that they are defying expectations and continuing to do whatever they please, outdated concepts of "age appropriateness" be damned.
And there are similarities between the two groups, other than the whole age thing. They do more than cheer; they also contribute to the community. In regards to the Old Skool-ers:
For the Sparks, the mature-and-lovely cheerleaders are more than halftime filler or a marketing gimmick. The squad visits schools, health fairs and community forums, promoting fitness among girls and women.
And the Japan Pom Pom squad is known for their good works:
The club, whose members' ages average 66 and add up to 1,520 years, practices two hours a week and often performs at children's hospitals as well as nursing homes.
Takino said that their main goal is to have fun.
"There is a lot of depressing news and the economy is bad. I must say, I can only do little to overcome this problem, but I hope we can provide energy and encourage people by showing how we senior cheerleaders are simply enjoying ourselves," she said.
Another point of similarity: both groups sound awesome. "If getting older isn't always getting better, these ladies made it feel like a lot of fun," writes Sandy Banks, after attending a tryout in L.A. Even more impressive is Aya Saito, who cheers on the streets of Tokyo every morning to help boost the spirits of commuters. "One guy said he was going to quit his job but decided to stay after watching me dance here. That kind of thing makes me feel that my cheerleading is worthwhile," she told Reuters. We approve! Let's just hope no one comes up with some sort of cat-related name for the phenomenon — Cougar Town was more than enough, thanks.