Over the past decade IPL has become an integral part of Cricket. Ipl added a new set of skills to the game and given fans a totally unique match-day experience. Every year, the Indian Premier League brings some exciting cricket, the high dose of glamour and glitz and, of course, the cheerleaders. However, there is a dark, murky reality of everything that is hidden inside the shiny exterior and IPL is no alien to this concept. Someone recently ran an AMA on Reddit asking cheerleaders to share the inside scoop, and what followed was anything but entertainment.
Some of the cheerleaders who are currently working or have worked in the past shared details of what goes on when the cameras are not rolling on the field. One of them shared her positive experience and how she loves the whole vibe.
I’m from the U.S.A and so far I’ve been loving India. I might be a rare Westerner in that I love the chaos here. People are living, kids playing cricket in the streets, goats and cows wondering around, people selling fruits and veggies on corners, I love it. It beats the closed off living you’ll find in major cities in the U.S. the U.K. or Australia.
If you thought showing off their dancing skills on the field was making them rich, then allow us to burst the myth bubble. “My love for dancing and experiencing new things and new cultures brought me here. I actually get payed very little.”
“Oh my goodness, the costumes are the biggest drama. I liked our old ones but apparently the big boss’s 13 year old daughter decided she wants to be a designer and designed our new outfits. We’ve been through 3 different cheer outfits now and I still hate the final outcome”. Oops, I wonder which 13-year-old daughter she is talking about. Can you guess the boss?
In case you haven’t noticed, in any team while the majority of the dancers are foreigners, you will surely spot one or two Indian girls in the team. Racism is a legit thing in IPL.
“I hate the racism. Why is my team made up of 99% white girls? Why do Indians feel it’s ok to dress white girls up in skimpy outfits but they won’t let their fellow Indian women do it? It’s messed up.”
Then there comes the part which involves dealing with crass men. This cheerleader explained how they deal with the menace.
“For the most part I can’t hear them. The music is loud enough and the accents are thick enough I’m mostly oblivious to the words. This doesn’t mean I can’t tell that there are some obvious slime-balls behind me. I try my best to ignore them. And I’ve made a personal rule for myself not to take pictures with fans unless they’re women or children. I’m not keen on becoming someone’s fap bate for the night.”
“Honestly? I put a blank stare on for the most part when I’m facing the crowd. There’s just so many nasty men making kissy faces and taking my picture that I tend to just block it all out. Often I’ll lock eyes with some nice people that are smiling and those are the people I’ll focus on for most of the game. So I haven’t really seen many funny things. If someone genuinely made me laugh though, that would be a welcome thing.”
We might be running a ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign, but there is no such thing in the IPL.
“Conditions aren’t the best. If I were back in the U.S., I’d be shocked at the state of our toilets, changing rooms, and on occasions our hotel rooms.”
“The first two games they were more like 1 star hotels. Cockroaches, I saw a rat and rat droppings, it was pretty bad. But we quickly spoke up and realized our manager for that trip had been skimping us and pocketing the money he was saving on a cheaper hotel. Now they’re more like 3 star. Perfectly comfortable but not over the top.”
It takes more than swallowing your pride to give in to demands. It is not easy being ogled at every single day. A few cheerleaders shared their experience.
“I am a feminist, and I admit that I am bothered. When I danced and cheered in the U.S. I felt less like that. If you were to watch female dancers on Broadway, regardless of their outfit, you probably wouldn’t call them a sexual object. You’d call them a dancer. I went into this contract as a dancer, finding that I’m treated more as a sex object.”
“I try to be forgiving of human nature so I’m rolling with the punches. I also enjoy what I do regardless. But I wouldn’t renew this contract for another year unless things changed.”
And then, there was one which had a pretty solemn advice of not taking up this profession at all.
“I’d advise not to take up cheerleading as an only profession. If you want to be a cheerleader, study dance and work on getting jobs in dance. Use your resume to apply”.