Football fever gets women jumping Cheerleading tryouts draw dancers to club

July 19, 1992|By Mark Bomster | Mark Bomster,Staff Writer

Never mind the National Football League -- this is the real dream team.

Under the neon lights of a nightclub dance floor, dozens of aerobically attired women jumped and wiggled and pumped and split yesterday, urged on by choreographer Vicki Smith.

They dreamed of joining an unofficial cheering and dance squad publicize Baltimore's bid for an NFL expansion team.

Free-lance "entertainment consultant" Jon Boesche dreamed of forming a volunteer pep squad to perform at rallies and events aimed at landing a team.

Mr. Boesche, who works days for a manufacturer of troll dolls, has no ties to the NFL, the Maryland Stadium Authority or anyone else officially involved in landing a football team for the city.

And, in general, cheerleading squads are hired and controlled by the football franchises themselves, said league spokesman Greg Aillo. "If Baltimore received a franchise, it would be up to them to decide cheerleaders, how they'd present it," he said.

None of that discourages Mr. Boesche, a lanky, pony-tailed Baltimorean, who oversaw yesterday's auditions wearing baggy striped shorts and a loose white shirt.

He hopes to organize a squad dubbed "Sidelines" that will

perform at parades, pep rallies, even at the Miami Dolphins-New Orleans Saints exhibition game in August, if he can swing it.

To attract prospective dancers and cheerleaders, he advertised the auditions at aerobics studios and selected nightclubs around the area.

"Yes, it is a publicity stunt. It is not a money-making venture," he admitted.

But if Baltimore gets a football team, he reasons, that team will need cheerleaders -- so why not start organizing now?

"It is my hope to put together the hottest-looking, best-dancing, most wonderfully active females in the city," said Mr. Boesche.

By 11 a.m. yesterday, more than two dozen aerobic instructors, former cheerleaders, even an exotic dancer or two, had shown up for an unpaid workout at the Nightlife club on Pulaski Highway.

They came for fun, a little exercise and the chance that, someday, they may lead cheers for a stadium full of crazed football fans.

"If we get the team, and the public likes what we do, and we show our support, we have a great shot to become part of it," said Janine Rich, 21, a gymnast and aerobics instructor from Phoenix.

A cheerleading squad, she said, "will get the public aware that there are some of us out there who are willing to do something to get a football team."

A few of those who auditioned already know what it's like to perform under the gaze of cheering fans.

Anne-Marie Phelan of Pasadena spent a year with the Buffalo Jills, the cheerleading squad affiliated with the Buffalo Bills.

"It was, like, the most overwhelming feeling, when you're on the field and they announce, 'The Buffalo Jills!' " said the 27-year-old brunette, who showed up in a green T-shirt, thigh-length sweat pants and hoop earrings.

Baltimore, she said, "is a wonderful city, and they deserve an expansion team, and I want to be a part of it."

Kimberley Weeks, 25, was a member of the Baltimore Blast soccer team's Touch of Blast cheerleading squad. She also coaches a youth squad for the Arbutus Athletics Association.

"I love the game of soccer," she said, "but my favorite sport is football. The chance to be an on-the-field cheerleader for an NFL football team is a role model I'd love to give the girls I coach."

What kind of image should an NFL cheerleader project? That depends on who you ask.

"You've got to be sexy. You've got to keep the crowd going," said Patrice Grimm, an exotic dancer at the Gold Club on Pulaski Highway, who auditioned in a pink T-shirt and flowered hot pants.

Dancing down a runway in front of a group of male club patrons isn't so very different from holding the attention of a cheering stadium, she said. "We've got to keep them interested, happy."

Ms. Smith, the choreographer, said she favors an all-American image, heavy on enthusiasm and personality as well as on dance technique.

And Mr. Boesche already is tinkering with costume ideas: silver and white uniforms, with hot pants, "sexy, but not too sexy. Sex appeal plays a lot into it."

Mr. Boesche said about 40 women auditioned and 25 were chosen. He plans a second tryout next Saturday, at a place to be determined, and hopes to pick another 20.

Meanwhile, some of those who showed up took a more philosophical view of the event.

Henry DeWitt, a Baltimore resident, talked his 20-year-old daughter, Sandra Lane, into coming, saying she often goes out dancing with her friends for hours on end.

Even if the cheerleading squad never gets off the ground, "it's not a total loss," said Mr. DeWitt. "It's like a free aerobics class, that's the way I think about it."

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