Sunday, July 13, 2008

2008 Clippers Spirit Auditions 

Posted by Sasha at 6:46 PM ET

Preliminary auditions for the Los Angeles Clippers Spirit dance team kicked off yesterday morning at 10am. And yours truly was ALL up in it. Thankfully I was legitimately invited and didn’t have to resort to Plan B. (I’d share Plan B with you, but I may need to use it one day. Sorry.)

AND – get this. Not only was I invited, but Henry the regular photographer had another commitment that day, so Spirit Director Audrea Harris asked if I wouldn’t mind subbing for him and shooting some photos. So not only was I in there, I was legitimately doing stuff.
    Sidebar: Here’s the thing, everyone who has a cat or a dog understands that if you want to keep him out of a room, you have to shut the door and keep it shut. If you open it even a little bit, that little monster is going to shove his way inside and you’re pretty much out of luck. That’s his turf. Forever. That’s kind of how I feel about this situation. I’m IN, baby! And if I’m ever brought up on stalking charges, I will tell the judge that I was invited. Because it’s the truth.
Anyway, this whole audition thing was old hat. I was there last year, so I knew the ropes. Which is exactly why I missed my turn, doubled back, and couldn't for the life of me figure out where to park.

I was just a little bit cranky. I hadn’t had much sleep the night before because I was up late working up a list of helpful suggestions for Audrea. (In case she runs out of ideas and panics or something. There are a lot of basketball games in a season and you've got to keep coming up with new ideas to keep things fresh!)

I don’t want to sound full of myself, but these are some brilliant ideas. Probably my best one is that all the girls should get the same haircut. And that haircut should be a Dorothy Hamill wedge. It’s easy to maintain, adds to the uniform look of the team, and everyone will look cute as a button.

My second best suggestion is a pre-game tribute to the Solid Gold Dancers. It's time, don’t you think?

The other reason I was cranky was because the previous day at work, I walked right smack into a plate glass wall. At full speed. Face first. And I feel that I didn’t get nearly as much sympathy from my coworkers as I deserved.

Right after it happened, I marched myself to the Vice President’s office and demanded that he have someone frost all of the glass walls and doors in the office. He said no because he likes it nice and bright in the office. (We just moved there a few weeks ago, okay? I’m not some idiot running into glass walls all the time. I’m just not used to them yet.)

So anyway, I walked in there, holding my head and said “Look, I think I just concussed myself.” He laughed at me. LAUGHED. So I said “I don’t think you understand. I could be bleeding internally right now, and you don’t even care. I could’ve been dead on the floor over there. In fact, I could walk out of here right now and fall over dead. Then you’d be sorry.” This did not change his attitude at all. I told at least six other people what had happened, and did I get one stinkin’ drop of sympathy or concern? NO.

Sometimes I feel like people don’t take me seriously.

And – AND – the worst part is, I don’t even have a decent-sized bruise to show for it.

Right, so back to the audition. I got there, parked, and grabbed my new Canon Rebel Xsi. I told y’all I was getting a new camera. No more fooling around with that point-and-shoot. This time, I mean business.

When I walked into the Spectrum Club, the lobby was practically empty. Oh that is sooooo not good. Last year, the lobby was stuffed to the rafters with dancer-types and their various accoutrements. Today, there was a lot of empty space. Was I even in the right place? And if I was in the right place, could it be possible that no one showed up for the audition? In all seriousness, how does that work? If only six girls show up, do you just give them the job, call it a day, and head over to IHOP for brunch?

Was my new career as the Official "Unofficial Photographer of the Los Angeles Clippers Spirit" over before it had begun?

Thankfully no. Upon further observation, I discovered:
(A) The line was outside of the building.
(B) The registration desk was cleverly concealed behind some trees and a big screen tv.
(C) The dancers were allowed to warm up on the court rather than waiting around in the lobby.

This was a relief. And it also made good sense. Because last year, all that luggage and stuff in the lobby was a serious fire hazard. My personal feeling is this: if I have to run for my life due to fire/flood/bomb scare/Jonas Brothers fans run amock/etc, and I trip over someone’s rolly bag on the way out, that person better hope I’m okay. Because if I die, I’m coming back as a poltergeist - and not a happy one either.

Oh man...I just I know I’m going to start having double vision any minute now.

Back to the reason why any of this is of interest to you…
It was around 9-ish. I went in and put my stuff down. Most of the judges were there. The judges table was set up, the DJ was getting his gear together, and there were already a fair number of dancers chit-chatting and warming up.

It was time to review the game plan: take at least one good picture of everyone there. I didn’t think that was overly ambitious. But it meant I had to get moving. Easier said than done, because I was really nervous. Look at all of these strangers. I talk a lot, but I’m a real chicken. Breaking the ice is the hardest part. I mean, you can’t just walk up to someone like “Hey, I don’t know you, you don’t know me. You don't even know these girls sitting next to you. But do me a favor and squish together so we can get this over with, m’kay?”

I decided to start outside and literally fled the room. (You have to ease into these things, you see.) I went outside, stood on top of something tall, and photographed the people standing in line. It seemed like a good enough way to get started. Plus, it was a good way to scan the group. I had my eye out for a couple of girls who tried out last year and was hoping they’d come back.

Adrianne Harris was outside coordinating, so I said hello. Then I saw her talking to someone I recognized. It's Shantel, Charger Girl extraordinaire. I don't remember clearly, but I think I literally shoved Adrianne aside so I could say hello to Shantel. (I am so sorry Adrianne. I hope I didn't leave a mark.)

Afterward, I got my photos and went back inside. Next on the agenda was to get a few photos of the excitement going on at the registration table. (That was sarcasm. The stuff that goes on at the registration table is necessary, but not particularly fascinating. Mostly it has to do with shuffling a lot of paper and stapling things together.)

The first person I saw behind the registration table was Nina. This is fine because she warned me back in January that she was going to retire. (Ok, it wasn’t fine, but I turned in my petition late, so there was nothing I could do about it.)

It’s at times like this that I really wish I had some basic social skills. What I should have said was “Hey, nice to see you! Whew, it’s a hot one out there, isn’t it?” What I actually said was “Oh crap, you really are retiring.” Meanwhile I’m wondering exactly how much physical effort it would take to get Nina into a two-piece and shove her out in front of the judges. And then Nina - nice, sweet Nina, who looks like she'd rather take a spider outside than stomp on it - dropped the bomb. She is expecting a Blessed Event at the end of the year.

Well hell. So much for the two-piece.

WOW - congratulations!! I'm so excited for you!
No, seriously. I am.

Moving on…

As I walked by, I saw a girl standing in line with a folded lawn chair strapped to her back. Now that's what I call preparation!

I went back into the gym (Court? Facility? Room? Large open area with wooden floors?). Next person I see? Kristin. Kristin, the go-to veteran. And she is not dressed appropriately at all. I’m all “Back up, sister. What are you wearing?” A tank top and pants, that’s what. And sneakers. White Sneakers! You know what this means. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! (You know that video of that dude who wails “don’t taze me bro!”? That’s what it kind of sounded like in my head.”)

Yes friends. After 4 seasons, Kristin is retiring. And she’s all excited because she’s been invited to Japan to spend a month leading dance workshops. She’s leaving on Friday. Ok, well that’s all fine and good. It’s going to be big fun and I’m happy for you, but what about me and my needs? Kristin says she’s going to keep me posted on her dance adventures, but it is SO not the same thing.

Then, to add insult to injury, I turned around and BAM! There’s Alex. And guess what? She’s retiring too. Alex is working, she’s got two internships, and she’s going to grad school. In other words, she’s booked solid. We understand, don’t we? Let’s all be happy for her. She’s going to earn that degree and have great career doing what she loves. I’m glad for her. For both of them. Truly. No – really!

At this point, I was feeling pretty crabby and demanded to know who else was retiring. All of this was very upsetting. Oh crap – Ashley R. too? You know what? I don’t want to hear anymore. I have work to do.

Back to the job at hand. The room was getting pretty full. So I went around, doing my best to catch everyone before they all start moving around and changing places. They were all great about it. As you can see, they made it easy for me (there are more, I'll post them later):

At 10, it was time to get things started and the dancers assembled on the floor.

Let’s pause for now. Next time, we meet the staff, the judges, the choreographer, and a couple of suspiciously tall fellas peeking over the balcony...

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