Radical Cheerleading was first started in 1997 by two sisters from Florida
, Cara and Aimee Jennings
. The two were very politically active
, but were tired of carrying signs
and muttering boring old chants
. They decided to add performance
to their activism
, and Radical Cheerleading was born.
They made pom-poms out of garbage bags and wrote zines and cheerleader handbooks to spread their cheers, dance moves, and ideas. Their squad inspired girls in other areas to start their own squads, and now there are squads all across the US, and also in France, England, Canada, Australia... even Singapore and Japan.
Squads are mostly female, but there are males and transgendered people on the squads too.
Radical Cheers focus on many subjects, including, but certainly not limited to, the following:
fat positivity and body love-- "I got booty in the back and a lot up front; my secret is I EAT LUNCH!"
revolution-- "Resist, resist! Raise up your fist!"
sexuality-- "Come on all you girls and boys, come on and grab your sex toys!"
animal rights-- "I like fur, I'm gonna wear my kitty. What's that look? Does that sound shitty?"
police brutality-- "P-I-G-S! With a badge on their chest! They're here to opress the people with less!"
Radical Cheerleading squads mostly perform at organized protests and demonstrations, but also occasionally perform at events such as concerts, film festivals, and conferences. They have also been known to cheer guerilla style, spontaneously appearing in subways or on the streets to rile up passers-by.
Radical Cheerleading has become amazingly popular in the past few years amongst activists. The Cheerleaders are always greeted warmly, and often those in the crowd will ask to pose for photos. Radical Cheerleaders are easy to approach because they're not scary and yelling things, just dancing and smiling, getting the crowd pumped.
Many squads have funky names and their members sometimes have psuedonyms that go with the squad's theme. Here are some of the most active squads these days:
the Syracuse System Shakers (from Syracuse, NY)
the Resistin' Radicatz (from Buffalo, NY)
Radical Teen Cheer (from Los Angeles)
Radical Cheerleaders of DC
Lickity Split (from Chicago. A squad with fun member names, which include "Queefer Southernland", "Pussy Elliot", and "Muff Daddy"...)
the NYC Radical Cheerleaders (have been trying to come up with a name for years. Ideas have included the "Statues of Liberty", the "Candy Apples", and the "Bullshit Busters", but none have stuck.)
the Rocky Mountain Rebels (from Colorado)
Currently, squads near the East Coast (and even some that aren't so near!) are getting ready for a cheerbloc during the Republican National Convention in New York City. The NYC Radical Cheerleaders will be hosting the cheerbloc and organizing events such as protests, a vegetarian picnic in Prospect Park, and a big, girly slumber party.
Rah Rah Rah!