This past weekend brought the start to another season of my beloved Toronto Marlies. And as is the case with every new season, we were met by many familiar faces and a lot of new ones, both on and off the ice.
What we were not met with this season, however, is the Marlies Dance Crew, the small group of women who entertain during stoppages in play. And I find myself oddly torn over this.
On the one hand, I have never been comfortable with the Dance Crew as a concept, and cheerleading squads for pro sports teams in general (I see high school and college squads in a different light).
In the absence of male squad members, the Dance Crew simply seemed like a salacious attempt to get a rise out of parts of the crowd…and based on comments I would hear around me, it worked.
By the same token, over the seasons, I have actually come to know many of the Dance Crew members, finding them charming, articulate women who enjoy the art of dance. They are friends and part of the Marlies family, with whom I try to maintain contact via social media even after they have moved on to other things.
Cheerleaders in hockey is an odd thing, and I appreciate that it would be impossible—given the concrete floors and metal railings—to perform truly acrobatic stunts that you might see at college events. This may be why the whole Dance Crew concept never sat right with me, because in the absence of that artistic/athletic angle, it felt like the women were reduced to eye-candy.
Thus, while I will miss getting to know new family members, I am not terribly heartbroken over the Dance Crew’s absence this season.
And to the members who have moved on, I wish you all every success and hope you visit the Ricoh Coliseum on occasion, so we can say hi.