Saturday, April 28, 2007

Celtics Dancer Diary 

Posted by Sasha at 8:49 PM ET

Emily reflects on the Celtics Dancers' historic first season.
Boston Celtics
April 25, 2007

As the world waits for the fate of ping-pong balls to fall in our favor, I'm left reflecting on a season well danced. As you know, the final game of the season was last Wednesday, which meant the last performance of the Celtics Dancers, at least with these 21 girls and at least for a good five months. I don't know what next year will bring for me, so as I went through my day last Wednesday, I couldn't help but feel a little nostalgic as I pondered a season of shaking, strutting and other sources of good ol' fashioned fun.

The last game day, for me, meant one last time of wheeling my fluorescent, lima bean green suitcase down the street to work. One last time of the Fed Ex man bellowing "Betcha don't lose that at the airport!" as I fake-smiled with delight like it was the first time I've heard it. One last practice at Boston Sports Club where our unofficial fan club of weight lifters pretended not to watch our practice. Come on, who really needs to work on their triceps for two hours? We've got your number, boys. Something they probably didn't realize is that we have nicknames for all the regular watchers...

Yes, there might have been a few lasts for me that day, but I tried to focus on the positives and remember what I've gained over the past year. They say that everything you need to learn in life you learned in kindergarten. Well, that may be true, but I sure learned a heck of a lot as a Celtics Dancer.

For example, the glue you use to apply fake eyelashes lasts days, sometimes weeks, and eyeliner sticks to it so you feel very appropriate sitting in a work meeting with streaks of black goop around your eyes on a nice Tuesday morning.

The smell of a spray tan lasts for days, and let me tell you, it's not a pretty smell. Significant others are not fans of the spray tan.

It is possible to get from one side of the court to the other in three counts, despite failed attempts during dances for the first half of the season.

I had to learn to remember to bring a black Sharpie to games and appearances to sign autographs.

Don't get me wrong; we in no way think we are celebrities, but we are a bit more in the public eye than most Bostonians, yet I find it very odd to be recognized or admired. I sign offer letters and random red tape-related forms all day at work and no one finds my signature all that exciting or important, but a few hours later when I have my get-up gotten up, little kids think I'm really cool and want my autograph. That part still fascinates and boggles me. If only they knew how uncool I am from 9-5. Well, let's make that all the time except when I'm dancing at games. Who am I kidding here? If they saw us interact back in the locker room, they wouldn't think we were cool, ever.

Yes, I gained a few lessons learned this season, and even made personal progress in a few key areas. In case anyone has read my previous diary entries, I'd like the three of you to rest assured that I now know which tunnel to run through when exiting the court, and my booty pop has almost reached respectable status, with respectable loosely defined, of course. I still forget at least one costume item per game, but these days it's more like an unnoticeable wristband instead of an all-important boot like earlier in the season.

What I didn't expect: I didn't think there was anyway I would like and get along with 20 girls in this type of environment. But I stand corrected. There are a wide variety of ages, education levels, backgrounds, and personalities on this team, all of whom were probably the stars of their dance studios, high school or college dance teams, or even professional dance teams, so I expected a bunch of divas, but miraculously, we all get along.

It's like a sorority, except our primary bond is a love of dancing and performing, not whatever it is that bonds sorority girls together. If you've been on a sports team, you know what it is like: the joking around, the laughing, the goofing off, the making fun of each other, the inside jokes, and the common goal of wanting to perform well.

With that in mind, here is what I'll miss:

Singing to the locker room iPod and interjecting our own lyrics at opportune or inopportune times.

Playing jokes on Marina and having her never notice, yet never giving up on trying to "get her good."

Being on a conference call for work with a CIO while wearing a skimpy costume in a hallway in the Garden, with a dozen media members walking by. Trying to stay focused and sound professional and not let on that I'm trying to hurry off the phone because I have to go tease my hair and apply an ungodly amount of purple eye shadow.

Bringing eight pairs of nylons and all of the them having rips, so applying clear nail polish on one of the runs but putting way too much on and having your nylons stuck to you for the rest of the night, regardless of necessary costume changes.

Sitting with JoJo White at an appearance and hearing him talk about the past and future of the NBA, what it was like to play for the Celtics back in the day, and how hopeful he is for the young talent on the current team.

Having Gregg Easterbrook write about my diary in his ESPN.com column and receiving emails from old boyfriends, suddenly much nicer than they were a decade ago. Please ignore my very mature gloating here.

Entertaining ourselves by pretending a long lost friend in the crowd has waved to us and we give a heartfelt wave back. The more dramatic, the better. If you can add a head tilt to the side and a hand on your heart because you are so touched they came to see you, you're golden. Danielle has the fake fan wave down to a science thanks to her performing arts background at NYU, with Athenia coming in as a close second.

Applying Laguna, a bronzing powder and must-have for Celtics Dancers, on our midsections and arms to pretend we are naturally bronzed goddesses in January in the Northeast. Maybe the Laker Girls and Clippers Dance Team can get color year round, but let's face it, we may have all come from different states, but we're all in Boston now. And basketball season falls in the dead of winter.

But you know what? Despite the challenges of balancing bronzing sessions, late-night practices, 9-5 work life, and dragging my suitcase through sludge during the Boston winter, I wouldn't trade this experience for the world. I've laughed more than I have in years. I've acted goofier than I knew was possible. I've made friends who will last a lifetime. Insert any other cliche you want here and I'm guilty of it. I confess: I resisted it at first, but now I'm proud to say that I am a professional dancer for the NBA. I won't even balk too much if you accidentally call me a cheerleader.

I had the chance to dance for the most loyal, passionate fans in the world and for the greatest, most storied basketball team of all time. Boston, I grew up a Lakers and Dodgers fan, but now, give me a Paul Pierce jersey and a Red Sox baseball cap, and let's call it a season.

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