Tue. Jun 15th, 2021

Donning bright outfits and flashy shoes, the “Japan Pom Pom” is no ordinary squad. With its members between the ages of 60-89, it is subverting the ageist standards of the society which expect women to behave in a certain way, especially when they are senior citizens.

Founded more than 25 years ago by Fumie Takino, the 89-year-old shares how they didn’t like being called ‘granny cheer dancers’ when they began. Inspired by an overseas cheer squad comprising seniors, the dance group originally started with five people. It has 17 active members now.

A video of the group, which recently resumed practice after almost a year, went viral on social media. The members were seen wearing masks and were socially distanced during their practice.

Watch the video here:

While the dance group has continued to gain popularity, they are still not accepted by the senior population. “We went to a senior-citizens club, and they really didn’t like us. They didn’t smile even once. ‘Japanese women, wearing things like that, at their ages!’” Takino told Reuters. “Now, I think about half of the people are okay with us and half still can’t accept us.”

Members of the group, who often don sequined, mini-skirted cheer costumes to perform, credit Takino for motivating them and bringing a positive outlook.

“As our leader says, try anything,” 69-year-old group member Tami Shimada told the news website. “If you’re interested in something, forget about your age, forget about people saying it’s no good for that reason… I think that leads to a reason to live.”

Since being shared online, the clip has garnered over 19,000 views with many lauding the ‘Japan Pom Pom’ squad.