Author Archive
Folk Dance

“The Whoa”

Background: The following informant is a young adult college student who is well-versed in social media and internet trends. Her perspective represents that of many teens in today’s internet age. She describes a recent dance trend that has begun to take over social media. This is a transcription of our conversation (C is the informant and I am identified as “me”):

Piece:

Me: Okay, so tell me a little about “the whoa.” Like if you had to describe it to someone who had never heard of it before.

C: The “whoa” is a dance, I guess

Me: How do you do it?

C: It’s like turning the wheel of a car, you go from nine and three to twelve and six *demonstrates said movements*

Me: When do you do the whoa?

C: You do it to the beat of a song or if you just feel like it

Me: Where did you first hear about it?

C: Twitter

Context: This conversation took place in my dorm room one evening. The informant and I were discussing popular “internet” dance trends from our childhood and ended up discussing this most recent dance trend and where we first learned about it. The informant is active on social media and has knowledge of many trends prevalent on particular apps, such as Twitter or Instagram so I feel that she is a decent authority on the typical young adult social media experience.

Thoughts: Folk dances used to be shared in person through communal engagement. They were a way for people to unite and share their perspectives. Today, dances like “the whoa” are spread through the internet and can be learned by any and everyone. They don’t have a particular significance or meaning but rather develop different uses. “The Whoa” is often done when someone does something well or to signify that a song has a really strong beat. This particular dance was originally popular among the African-American community on Twitter, however it has spread to popular, mainstream culture. I find that it is typically performed to hip hop music, however it has become a trend to do the dance to more unrelated songs or without any music at all. Dance trends change all the time and every year has a particular dance that defines it. The dance of 2019 is definitely “the whoa.”

Childhood
Game
Gestures

Ninja

Background: The following informant is a young-adult college student who describes a game she played as child that she now plays with her younger nephews. This is a transcription of the informant explaining the game to another friend who had never played it before (the informant is C, our friend is “Friend” and I am identified as “Me”):

Piece:

Friend: Wait, what is it again?

C: It’s when you’re like in a circle and you try to hit each other’s hands and you can only move if the other person moves.

Friend: When do you move?

C: When I try to hit your hand- when I move you try to avoid me hitting it

Friend: How do you win?

C: Keep going until one of you gets to the ending.

Me: When do you do this?

C: When I play with the kiddos.

Me: Who?

C: My nephews!

Context: This conversation occurred in my dorm room one evening while a group of freshman college students who live on the same floor discussed childhood memories and games that we all played. The informant learned of the game as a child and continued to pass it on to another generation of children.

Thoughts: I have played “Ninja” countless times growing up so it was interesting to me that one of my friends had never heard of it, even though we grew up about thirty minutes a part. Yet, my friend from across the country had played the game and knew it exactly as I did. Depending on the schools you attend and people you interact with you gain different experiences even within the same general area. I used to play this game when I was among friends and we were all bored. It doesn’t require any props and can generally move pretty fast so it’s a great way to pass the time. It’s fun to play even as adults, as it can get pretty competitive.

Childhood
Folk Beliefs
Folk speech
Game
Legends

Bloody Mary

Background: This informant is a young-adult college student who grew up in Northern California. The informant discusses a scary ritual that calls forth a vengeful ghost. This is a transcription of our conversation (The informant is “C”, another friend is “Friend” and I am labeled as “me”).

Piece:

Me: Did you ever do any like ghost ritual kind of things when you were a kid?

C: I mean at sleepovers we used to do Bloody Mary

Me: I feel like everyone has done Bloody Mary. How did you do it?

C: Go in a bathroom, turn lights off and say bloody mary three times.

Me: Where does she come from?

C: I think she comes out of the mirror.

Me: Did you ever try it?

C: No I was always too scared.

Context: This conversation occurred one evening while sitting in my dorm room with my two closest friends. We were discussing my folklore collection project and I told them that folklore included rituals and traditions and the like. When brainstorming rituals, the informant brought up Bloody Mary, a common supernatural legend mainly believed by young children.

Thoughts: Bloody Mary is such a common folk legend and I can honestly say that I have never heard of anyone actually conjuring Bloody Mary. When I “played” Bloody Mary growing up, a candle was required for the ritual and in the dark bathroom with only a small flame flickering, it felt incredibly eerie. I had always thought of Blood Mary to be the antithesis of the Virgin Mary, but upon researching it further I found that Bloody Mary is actually based on Queen Mary of England. Bloody Mary is associated with children and childbirth in particular as its based on Queen Mary’s mysterious phantom pregnancy- she appeared to be pregnant but never gave birth to a child.

For more information on Bloody Mary and her origins, see this 2016 article by Krissy Howard entitled “The True Story of Bloody Mary, The Woman Behind The Mirror” (All That’s Interesting):

https://allthatsinteresting.com/bloody-mary

 

 

Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Canadian Thanksgiving

Background: This informant is a young-adult Canadian student studying at USC. The informant describes a Canadian holiday that is similar to an American one, with different origins. This is a transcription of our conversation (the informant is labeled as “H” and I am labeled as “Me”):

Piece:

Me: Do you have any other holidays in Canada, other than like Independence Day?

H: We have Canadian Thanksgiving actually. I mean it’s not about like pilgrims or anything but it’s similar to Thanksgiving here [in the US]. It’s about being thankful and spending time with family and friends.

Me: How do you celebrate it?

H: We have Turkey and stuff and have a big meal.

Me: Is it in November too?

H: No it’s like the second week of October, on a Monday- I think.

Context: This conversation occurred during an evening dance rehearsal during a brief break. I approached the informant as I knew she grew up outside of the US to see if I could gain some more international folklore.

Thoughts: I had no idea that Canada celebrated Thanksgiving too. When the informant told me about this holiday, I researched it to find out more information and found that the first Canadian Thanksgiving occurred before the original US Thanksgiving. While the holiday began to be celebrated later on in the 19th century, it’s a separate entity from the US holiday and represents Canadian pride and family. I think this holiday helps to demonstrate the value of the nuclear family in both Canadian and United States culture. Both cultures have allotted days to return home to family and miss work to focus on spending time with loved ones.

For more information on Canadian Thanksgiving, here is an article by Olivia B. Waxman originally published in October 2017 entitled “The Surprising Reason Canadian Thanksgiving Is Different From The US Version” (Time Magazine):

http://time.com/4971309/canadian-thanksgiving-2017-history/

Legends

Loyola Chicago Honors Dorm Ghost

Background: This informant is a student at the Loyola University of Chicago. The informant describes a popular on-campus legend. This is a transcription of our conversation (the informant is labeled as “T” and I am labeled as “Me”):

Piece:

T: So this one girl who lives in the honors dorm, she would hear knocking at night and she thought there was something wrong with the pipes so when maintenance showed up the knocking stopped. When they would leave it would happen again. One night she went to bed at like 10 am because she had an 8 am the next day and she woke up the next morning and there was a picture of herself on her phone of her standing in front of the mirror and the picture was from 3 in the morning and in her eyes it looks like she’s possessed like there’s a demon in her.

Me: Did you see the picture?

T: Ya like everyone’s seen it it’s so scary.

Me: Does this happen a lot in this dorm?

T: It’s an old dorm so it’s known to be haunted.

Context: This conversation occurred between the informant and I one evening while he was visiting me from out of town. We were discussing scary stories on our campuses and he told me of a few of the most popular ones from his school.

Thoughts: I feel like every school has that one haunted dorm or building that everyone knows about.  This story is interesting as there is photographic evidence of something weird going on, however that photo may not be the most trustworthy piece of evidence (I have never seen it before). Still, it’s interesting how this ghost in this old, historic building used technology to haunt a student.

[geolocation]