Dancers Get With the Clippers Spirit

CULVER CITY, CA-The competition for the city’s attention has always been drawn along basketball lines. The everyday, blue-collar approach of the Los Angeles Clippers going up against the flash and dash of the Los Angeles Lakers. That has also carried over into the two teams’ dance squads.

The Clippers are trying to win over the city with their brand of basketball. Their dance team is just as relentless, going for the “hottest dance team” moniker over the heralded Laker Girls. The competition is stiff with the latest dance moves being performed, the hottest uniform being worn and top showmanship being the catalyst.

For the last several years, the Clippers have moved up the chain in the ladder of premier NBA teams. The Clippers are the hot squad in Los Angeles. On the basketball court, the Clippers’ brand has been stronger the last four seasons than that of the 16-time NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.

Angela, a former Charger Girls cheerleader, came out for the Los Angeles Clippers Spirit open audition in Culver City, California. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman

The Clippers are the present and the future. The Lakers, to some, are the past.

The Clippers aim to keep their mantle secure and locked with their Big 3 of Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul. The Clippers Spirit dance team is in the same competition battle with the Laker Girls. It’s old school versus the new breed. The Laker Girls helped bring in the “Showtime” era. The Los Angeles Clippers Spirit dance team have risen in the ranks of “hottest dance team” in the NBA.

While the Laker Girls may have the more known name, the Los Angeles Clippers Spirit dancers have developed their own niche following in recent years. They are fast closing in on the NBA’s “hottest dance team” top spot with each passing season the same way American Pharoah closed in on the Triple Crown.

So when several hundred women showed up for an open audition on Sunday, July 26, to try to make the Clippers Spirit dance team, they brought their winning smiles and best dance moves to the tryout that began early in the morning and lasted for hours.

Ashley, an aspiring model and actress, said the Clippers have always won over her heart.

“I really want to be a Clipper Spirit,” Ashley said. “The Clippers, for some reason, I feel like…carries the heart of LA. The Clippers are the underdogs. They’re underestimated. They have the heart. There is so much to do in LA. People have little stereotypes about Hollywood and LA, and in life, and I feel like the heart is with the Clippers. So that is why I want to be a Clipper Spirit.”

Angela, a vivacious red-head hailing all the way from England, said back in her hometown sport entertainment is pretty much non-existent. So driven by her passion to be part of the sports entertainment industry, Angela has become somewhat of a globe-trotter in search of her dream. Last season, the Orange County resident tried out for and earned a spot with the Charger Girls, the cheer and dance team for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers.

A participant at the Los Angeles Clippers Spirit audition tries to wow the judges during the tryout session at the Clippers’ practice facility in Culver City, California. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman

A huge follower of the Clippers, Angela decided to try to make the transition from the NFL to the NBA with the tryout to secure a spot as a Clippers Spirit dancer.

“I actually danced last year for the San Diego Chargers, so I had that amazing experience down on the field, running out of the tunnel,” Angela said. “It was amazing. But I feel like the experience here would be so much different, and it is something that I would love to try. The dance styles are definitely different. In the NFL, it is more about poms, and visually, as a team, looking more cohesive. In the NBA, I feel like it’s a bit more personal. It’s more about the challenging choreography and the impressive dance moves, and things like that. I feel like it’s a different scale because of the proximity.”

With her remarkably heavy accent in tow, Angela said being part of the sports entertainment venue through performing as a Clippers Spirit member, would connect the best of both worlds for her.

“I love sports entertainment out here. We don’t have it in England,” Angela said. “So it’s something huge that’s different in the sports industry out here, and I’ve fallen in love with it. I’ve fallen in love with the Clippers and the way they entertain their fans. I would just love to put those two passions together.”

Jade Daniels has been a dancer for a dozen years. She took part in the audition process last year. After not making the cut in making the roster of last season’s team, she decided to give it another try.

“I did dancing in college at the University of Kansas, which was amazing. I had a great time,” Jade said. “I think it’s a great balance between being able to dance and do what you do, pursue other interests, pursue your passion and pursue your career. I’m older; a lot of these girls are like 18, 19. I’m 23. So I am trying to make sure I have time to focus on my career and still have time to perform.”

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