The Knicks City Dancers have been a fixture of the in-game experience at Madison Square Garden for as long as I can remember (literally). While the folks at home cut to commercial between quarters, those in the stands hear a few strains from the Andrea True Connection's "New York, You Got Me Dancing" and immediately perk up. The creepy old guys sitting alone grab their binoculars, the little kids with their parents shift awkwardly in their seats, and the whole crowd is transfixed by a couple dozen dancin' ladies. It's been that way for quite a while now. Twenty years, in fact!
The Knicks City Dancers debuted in the 1991–1992 season, and to commemorate that twenty-year anniversary, Tablet's Stephanie Butnick—niece of Pamela Harris, the woman who started it all—penned a creation story for the now-famous (Sex and the City!) and familiar dance team. It's got some interesting bits about how the the dancers came to be a part of MSG's hallowed game exhibition:
Harris realized that dancers could be a great way to raise team spirit and reach out to the fan base in ways the players’ schedules simply didn’t permit. She also saw an opportunity for sponsorship revenue. Harris began thinking of ways to put an authentic New York stamp on team dancers. She hired Petra Pope, who had worked with the Laker Girls (and who is currently a senior vice president for event marketing for the New Jersey Nets), who put together a diverse, talented group of dancers who would represent the Knicks at home games.
But unlike the Laker Girls, they weren’t going to be tawdry.
The outfits these days don't exactly conform to the "no skin" rule established by Harris, but indeed, the KCD have always seemed an especially classy, professional group of dancers (something I didn't quite pick up on until I got NBA League Pass. It's easy to take for granted how much better the production quality is at the Garden). They're a consistently entertaining part of an MSG experience that hasn't always been that way between the TV time-outs, and it's neat to see how they began and how far they've come.