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We function on a "She who calls it sets the rules, but no one has to follow them" model.

Fr'example - we were asked to do PRIDE, so I contacted the folx and set the date. Then I contacted the cheer list and told them that we had an event. People who want to do the event show up for practice, and they show up at the event. People who don't want to - don't. I can be superpsyched about an event but the squad votes with their time and energy - so if no one shows for practice it's because it wasn't important to them. And that's okay. We're not an obligation, we're FUN.

If I come with a cheer and the peeps don't like it, it gets rewritten. If I come with moves, they might get changed. We can't get attached to 'our' stuff or angry if people aren't as enthusiastic as we are, because we're a squad - a community, and we only do it if it's fun. No obligations, everyone can lead.

The other day, Malice turned to me and said - "On reflection, that rhythm you thought up SUCKS" and everyone agreed. Dude, I thought it was RAD. Guess not. It is being redone.

In a model like ours where no one is obligated to show up if they don't like the event/groundrules you choose you are likely to get no one at 'your' practice. (Once again, this has happened to me more than once). And then you have to take a long look at yourself and talk to your sisters.

It's CHAOS, but it works. And it forces us to take all our needs into consideration or we end up standing alone - and that's no fun. I might be thoroughly convinced that that rhythm I wrote is the BEST EVER (it was, I swear!). But I'll be cheering it by myself.

Some people (including me sometimes, when I think 6 people are coming but only 1 shows) need more rules, more structure and designated 'leaders'. And I think that could totally work - with a different set of cheerleaders. Some people want a more performance-based squad with a required number of practices to be allowed to perform and a certain level of skill. And I think that could work - with a different set of cheerleaders.

We had a period where we tried some of those things and no one showed up for practice, I didn't show up for practice. It was a pretty clear message. And the squad nearly died over it. For a year we did nothing as tension mounted and some people felt hurt that their vision of the squad was not materializing, and others felt devalued because they were not allowed to change the rules to fit the group consciousness. Standoff = no one cheers. It sucked. So after a year of nothing, we just put out the call again to ALL the ladies who'd ever been involved and ALL the ladies we'd ever heard wanted to be and we started practicing again.

And it is anarchy, and it's working. And if it stops working we'll know, because we'll be at practice all alone. Again.



Spokane's Radical Cheerleaders

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