On Saturday, arrival at the convention center was met with the observation that there were a lot of little girls around. As I got closer, I saw teams doing dance routines outside. When I walked in the building I finally realized that we have been invaded by thousands of cheerleaders. I didn’t know this at the time but apparently it was Athletic Championship’s Encore Finals event. It’s a bit odd getting tossed into a subculture that I have had absolutely no contact with before. There were young girls everywhere in full performance makeup and with giant bows in their hair. Many had star decals or temporary tattoos on their cheeks. This group definitely had a set looking among them. The high level of conformity was alarming, but I supposed that from their view, us archaeologists in our blue collared shirts and khakis present a similarly odd facade.
While most of the archaeology was on the second and third floors, the cheerleaders had the run of ground level. This arrangement meant that the archaeologists would be undisturbed for business, but we have to take a break sometime!
During a gap in the schedule I met up with Liz and Heather from MU and we decided to brave the ground floor. Heather was to meet us downstairs and handed Liz the poster she just presented. As Liz and I walked through the masses of cheerleaders, I had the brilliant idea of taking the poster and having cheerleaders pose with it before Heather caught up with us. Liz, true friend to the end, declared that the poster was her responsibility and refused to hand it over. A little pleading turned into silence as I abandoned the idea.
“Oh alright!” Liz suddenly exclaimed.
We walked back into the crowd to find a group that didn’t look busy. As we approached one group, they had formed a large circle in the lobby and started chanting. We froze in our tracks! We quickly got our courage back and walked past the circle to find a group of girls just chatting. We asked them to help us out with the poster and they agreed! As we got Heather’s poster of of its protective tube, we saw Heather walking towards us (we had taken too long in the negotiation process!). She was very confused when she saw us handing her poster to a group of cheerleaders but she quickly saw how fun the idea was. The end result was my favorite picture from the conference: