|January 15th, 2010, 04:58 PM||#1|
Join Date: Oct 2008
Bring it On: CSB hosts Big Bang 7
Photo courtesy of Chicago Spirit Brigade
Ready? Oh-Kay! Chicago’s only fundraising cheer, dance and drill team, the Chicago Spirit Brigade (CSB)—a group that raised $10,000 last year for local non-profits—is taking a night to help its own by hosting its annual fundraiser Big Bang.
“Each year we strive to make Big Bang a little bit better than the previous year's,” says Richard Flack, CSB founder and president emeritus. “We never want our guests to leave thinking the previous year was better.”
“Our theme for Big Bang 7 is based on the viral video phenomenon, so you can let your imagination run wild as to what sort of inspiration and interpretation might come from that! As with every year, the show features the varied talents of our members, and attendees are going to get some live vocals, dancing, camp, drama, drag, sexiness and a whole lot of fun,” reveals Flack, 41, of Edgewater.
Big Bang is the squad’s only fundraiser to cover operating costs each year. CSB—which performs at the annual Chicago Gay Pride Parade, Northhalsted Market Days, Chicago AIDS Run & Walk and other events—is an all-volunteer organization. Members pay $200 in dues, plus uniform, travel and other costs associated with the squad.
“We work very hard to get the message out that when you see us out on the street in uniform with our blue spirit buckets asking for donations, you know that 100% of those donations are going right back to the community via donation to another non-profit that is providing direct-care services to people with life-threatening challenges,” explains Flack. Big Bang is the only time all year that we raise money for ourselves to help offset operating costs, fund our fall skills training clinics, and support our dues elimination program as a benefit to members who volunteer with us for two years or more.”
There are currently eight other “community-based” fundraising cheer squads in the country, although CSB, a member of the Pride Cheerleading Association, is unique because they are the only group that features multiple performance units: cheer, dance and drill.
In just seven years, CSB has grown from 4 members to 45 members within the three units, and includes performers at all levels (beginner to seasoned pro), ranging in ages from 21 to 50-years-old.
“The biggest misconception about CSB is that we are ‘The Gay Cheerleaders,’” says Flack. “Although many of our members are indeed gay, many are not. Because we got our start in the gay community, and many of our standard events are rooted there as well, there is a tendency for the media and spectators to automatically associate everyone as being gay. We are such a diverse group that includes gay, straight, big, small, and representatives from every race. This is the magic element that connects the crowd with CSB, and that connection is what ultimately inspires someone to drop a dime or a dollar in the bucket when they see that someone “just like me” is out on the street sharing love, joy and spirit to make the community a better place.”
Big Bang 7 will take place on January 23 at Circuit Nightclub. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Tickets can be purchased online.