DK is a junior at the University of Southern California, but also a transfer from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
At UCSB, DK had many friends who surfed, and while she didn’t participate she was surrounded by the culture:
“My surfer friends had a lot of really weird vocabulary. They used to call people ‘kooks,’ almost always to make fun of them, and eventually I understood that it described kids who don’t really know surfer etiquette or are new to the sport, so in everyday life it’s just someone who’s a spaz or disrespectful, kind of oblivious.
“‘Frothing’ is another one they’d use a lot, which is just a synonym for excited, like you’d say ‘I’m so excited for dinner, I’m absolutely frothing!’ They use it to describe wave sets a lot.
“One I really liked was ‘grom,’ and when I went surfing with them one time they kept calling me that. It’s kind of similar to ‘kook,’ I think, except not so much someone who’s disrespectful. I think it’s mostly for people who are new to surfing or just a really young and excited surfer.”
Groups that bond over a common activity always seem to have their own culture, and DK gave me some great examples of vocabulary that would only be understood by people who surfed. It’s interesting to see how the words are applied both out in the ocean and in everyday life, and surfers are constantly drawing comparisons between the two worlds. DK also said she’s heard surfers at USC use the same language, but sometimes with slightly varied meanings. I’ve also heard of different surfers using different “lingo,” and there seem to be regional differences even in Southern California, depending on where your local spot is. Hawaiian surfers don’t use the above vocabulary, and Manhattan Beach surfers aren’t going around saying “shaka.”
Informant: “So, Fiesta’s a cool thing in Santa Barbara that it’s, like, this week in August where the entire town just agrees that they just wanna get really drunk and everyone’s like, ‘Yeah, sure.’ Um, I think they have a couple of events that’s meant to celebrate our Spanish history because we were founded by Saint Barbara or… (scoffs)
I think it’s meant to celebrate becoming sort of the town that it is today so, and celebrating our Spanish tradition, so a lot of people will, like, just go to all the bars and get really drunk because that’s how they interpret Fiesta, um, And it’s always really funny because State Street, like, our big street, is just filled with confetti and als— cause, do you know what cascarones are? They’re these– the eggs that they hollow out and then they fill with confetti. So they’re hollowed out confetti eggs and you crack– you are supposed to crack them in your hands, this is a lesson I learned, you crack them in your hand and then you just go like this (he rubs the palm of his hand in a circle on the top of his head) and put it on people’s hair. And there’s confettis everywhere so State Street is just littered in confetti because it falls everywhere, like, Starbucks, ugh– over the summer, so much confetti to sweep up, disaster. It turns into a disaster zone over the summer. But if you crack the eggs without cracking them in your hand first, like you just try to put it on people’s heads, the shells are a lot harder than you think and they’ll just… hurt people. So that’s an important thing. But cascarones are a huge thing. And then we have a lot of flamenco dancing that goes on which is amazing. Um, yeah, it’s, like, some of the biggest flamencoing stuff goes on in Santa Barbara, outside of Spain, um, and, yeah. They have all of this, like, the spirit of the fiesta which goes to one of the young flamenco dancers and there’s this whole culture there that I never even knew about. Um and a lot of traditions about flamencoists and stuff which is really cool, um, but one thing I found really interesting about Fiesta is how mixed it got with the Mexican culture because of, just of, our city has kind of a, uh, em, decently sized Mexican population so there’s always, like, mariachi bands playing and stuff which isn’t at all related to Spain. I mean, like, it’s Latin America versus Spain so, like, there’s a really interesting confused mix of, like, Mexican versus Spanish culture and everyone just kind of accepts it. Which, like, the analyst inside of me is just, like, I wonder what’s significant about that about globalization, about, like, people wearing sombreros and thinking, like, you know this is a Spanish thing versus, like, a Mexican thing so that, that was always, like, something I’ve gotten into as I got older. Because as a kid it was like ‘Confetti, hey!’ and now I’m just, like, what are the implications now of, like, this mixed culture. Um, but for the most part, like, it’s pretty Spanish and we celebrate, like, we have streets called, we have a street called De La Guerra which translates into, like, ‘from the war.’ Uh, and that’s a pretty historic street for us and that turns into kind of like a little market with lots of Spanish food being served and, um, it’s a big, it’s a big just part– it’s a week of party; it’s amazing. So. That’s I guess sort of a tradition… And drunk people knock on lots of people’s doors and ask to use their bathrooms. That’s what my friend hates about Fiesta. Constant music, constant drunk people…”
Lavelle: “Trying to use your bathrooms?”
Informant: “Trying to use your bathrooms.”
Lavelle: “That’s really funny.”
Informant: “Yeah, pretty brazen.”
My informant is a native of Santa Barbara, California and he has been aware of the celebration of Fiesta for many years. He enjoyed it innocently as a child and it’s always been a tradition he looks forward to during the summer. My informant loves Santa Barbara and the traditions the community has. My informant has also begun to question some of the practices that are accepted at Fiesta, the drunken escapades most specifically. Also, my informant is interested in learning more about how Mexican culture was infused into this Spanish tradition.
Informant: “We have a Summer Solstice parade which is pretty wild too, but that doesn’t have anything to do with Fiesta. That’s a weird parade. I can’t even… It’s literally– the point of it is to be as weird as you physically, possibly can. There are people in, like, snow globes and they have, like, crazy make-up on. And they’re like, there’s, like, pregnant women doing, like, belly dancing.”
Lavelle: “So it’s like all the weird people come out–”
Informant: “Oh! It’s, like, people, it’s just, like, people who are like, ‘I’m usually a normal person, but I want my freak flag to fly.’ I don’t understand it but, Summer Solstice is the weirdest day in Santa Barbara. Like fiesta it’s, like, everyone’s drunk and blah lah lah… but that’s normal…”
Lavelle: “Where does summer solstice happen?:
Informant: “Uh, State Street. It all happens on State Street. It is the most bizarre parade and just… People make these floats that are, like, so strange and you’re just watching it and you’re like, ‘what drugs are you on?’ Like I imagine people would have a great time if they smoked some weed. It’s trippy, dude.
My informant is a native of Santa Barbara, California. He has never been very involved in the Summer Solstice celebration, but is aware of it’s existence. He seems wary of the population it draws into the town.
“One of them, our biggest one, was called ‘Riding the Pony’ and you might’ve, I might’ve told you about this before, or something, or you might… other people do it too. Yeah, it’s a bunch of people standing in a circle and then people will go in the middle, like 5 or 6 people will go in the middle, and then everyone goes: ‘C’mon baby let’s ride that pony. C’mon baby let’s ride that pony.’ And under that, while that’s happening you’ll, the people in the middle, will run around the circle and then they’ll find someone, so it’ll go: ‘C’mon baby let’s ride that pony. C’mon baby let’s ride that pony.’ You go ‘front, front, front’ and then you go, ‘side, side, side’ and ‘back, back, back’ on them and then you say, ‘This is how we do it.’ And you switch and then new people come in and do it so it’s just, like ‘C’mon baby let’s ride that pony. C’mon baby let’s ride that pony. Front, front, front. Side, side, side. Back, back, back.’ Switch. And you do it. And you just do it a million times, um, and it’s really fun ‘cuz when you’re doing the ‘front, front, front’ part, people are, like, grinding up on each other and stuff. And in the back you’re, like, hitting your butts on each other and just pushing each other out of the circle. So that’s a huge, like, energy thing for us that we would do.”
My informant was very involved in the theatre program at his high school, Dos Pueblos High School, in Santa Barbara, CA. This was a game that the casts of shows he performed in would play before a performance. It was a fun thing to do, but also a good warm-up to increase energy before a performance. My informant enjoyed telling this story and he laughed about it a lot.