Represent! | Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Whipping up the delegates at the DNC

A "whip" rallies party delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC.
Kitty Felde/KPCC

It's the oddest sight—the dancing "whips."

The California delegation is massive: 609 people packed into the back quadrant, right behind the CNN broadcast space. Surrounding the delegation are more than a dozen men and women wearing neon yellow vests with orange stripes. They look like crossing guards or perhaps highway workers. But they're not, they're "whips" — charged with whipping up the crowd on the convention floor.

Early in the convention, they worked en masse like a cheerleading team, urging the delegation to dance, chant, and "make some noise." 

The leader of the pack is Shawn Bagley of Salinas. He stands below the delegation, waving his arms, pointing his fingers, orchestrating the delegates' responses. 

Bagley says it's improv. He "makes stuff up" as he goes along.

And he's fiercely competitive. He calls other states "rookies." He says Texas made some noise and it was "pretty impressive," but he hasn't heard the New York delegation do anything. "California's been whupping everybody," he says. "We're the best!"