Author Archives: Athena Boyle

High School Marching Band ‘Flute Salute’

Informant Background:

My informant RA is a 22-year-old senior at USC and a member of the Trojan Marching Band. She was also a flute section leader in her high school marching band in Chicago, Illinois.  


RA: “It was just something we would do at the end of every rehearsal. Like we’d get, we’d meet up with the section after the band director dismissed us and just like give announcements like we do in the TMB and then we would all do our little cheer when we were holding our flutes and then we would say:

Row. Row. Row. Row.

Kayak.  (the word is elongated to ‘Kaayyaaak’)

Flute Salute.

[With each “row”, the person speaking will move their flute side to side in a motion mimicking paddling. While saying “kayak” the person will change to move their flute horizontally in front of themselves and dip each end left to right in a motion mimicking kayaking. When saying ‘flute salute’ the person will thrust their flute into the air twice with their dominant hand.]

RA: “Typically, the section leader would start [the chant] and then the whole section would join in.”


The ‘flute salute’ chant is a fun unifying activity for the flute section of a high school marching band. The chant likely serves the purpose of creating section pride by using specific gestures that only a flute (or a clarinet) could do easily. The chant is also a fun way to end practice helping to ensure that flute members keep their interest in the band and section. Marching band sections spend a lot of time practicing with each other so it is crucial for the people within each section to get along and, at least, partially enjoy their time in the band. Chants and other unique quick activities that solidify the status of a section as a whole are therefore so important.

‘The Category Game’

My informant AL is my classmate from the ANTH 333 course offered at USC.

Game: ‘The Category Game’

Rules: A group will stand or sit in a circle and go one by one listing different items of a category. People are eliminated if they cannot name an item in time or if they repeat an item. During the game, the players usually clap along or otherwise keep rhythm.

AL: “Like you’re in a circle and someone throws out a name or, you had to, someone would say ‘dog breed’ and everyone would have to throw out a different dog breed…We would usually play these games on a bus going to somewhere or waiting in line for something. It was a waiting game not like ‘oh let’s all do this right now’. It wasn’t the main focus.”

Game example:

P1: Category–types of fish

P2: Bass

P3: Salmon

P4: Mackerel

P5: Snapper

P1: Catfish

P2: [eliminated]

P3: Trout

P4: Clownfish

P5: [eliminated]

P1: Mahi Mahi

P3: Bass [eliminated]


P5: Barracuda [winner]


I am also familiar with this game. It is a fun way to pass the time, particularly on a bus. It also showcases the areas of knowledge of the players through their familiarization with the different answers other players give. For example, two players could realize that they are both very interested in a particular type of dog or have watched the same television show. The ‘category game’ was, therefore, a good game to find potential friends based on shared interests and conveniently was often played during beginning-of-the-year school trips when new students often met each other. The game also plays off the common technique of simply listing things in a group to hold off boredom. For example, trying to name all European countries while at the DMV to keep your brain active.


Informant Background:

My informant AL is my classmate from the ANTH 333 course offered at USC.


“80-6”. E.g. ’80-6 staff’ or ’80-6 nice people


AL heard this joke through her work as a waitress. ’80-6’ is a term used in the restaurant industry to indicate that something was missing in the kitchen. The waitstaff would often incorporate this job-specific term into jokes throughout the day to alleviate tension and boredom.


I would interpret this joke as a means of building comradery around a communal experience. In this case, the communal experience is the job of the waitstaff. Working as a waitress can often be tedious and strenuous work. The ’80-6’ jokes could be a way of finding enjoyment from their shared job and the fact that other people are going through a similar experience. Furthermore, using terms specific to a particular occupation intensifies the feelings of an ‘in-group’ overall making the experience of working at a restaurant more social and enjoyable.



“This one is called Duanwu. It’s related to this actual poet that was in Chinese history. I don’t remember when was his time. I know his name is Qu Yuan. This poet was also like a sort of commander for an army or something. Either way, he is a very very loyal person, he was like very loyal to his country. And then I think one day, the empire believed some like bad people or whatever the empire did, the empire believed that he is about to betray the country. So they jailed him and then he ended up suiciding by jumping into a lake. And then from that time onward, every Duanwu people eat something called Zongzi. It tastes really good. It’s like this thing made of sticky rice and you have like either meat which or you have something that is like beans and is really sweet. And is called sweet Zongzi. It’s usually triangular and it has these bamboo leaves covering it and it has creams. But it tastes really good and if you see it in a market you should buy it. But yeah the point being that people will sometimes put like Zongzi they will throw it into the lake. The idea is that the fish will eat the Zongzi and not Qu Yuan’s body. But yeah it tastes good um something else that people do on this day is that there is usually like Yuan Xiao, its called translated into light festival. It’s all the fun stuff, it’s a kind of carnival thing. And people usually put Dēnglóng in the river. It’s like this light thing. Sometimes it’s like a paper boat with light. I don’t know they put it in the river with their best wishes. Yeah, but that part I haven’t personally experienced it, I’ve just read about it and my friends have gone.”

Context: The informant was born and grew up in China before moving to the United States to attend High School. The informant has not personally experienced Duanwu or Yuan Xiao, but has heard about them through family, friends, and by reading about it. The informant has eaten Zongzi, however not for a particular occasion.

Analysis: Duanwu is also known as the Dragon Boat Festival. It is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. Duanwu serves as a way to celebrate the patriotism of the poet Qu Yuan. Eating culturally specific foods is a way to strengthen people’s national pride. The use of specific food such as Zongzi and the story of Qu Yuan work to create a sense of cultural pride and patriotism



A: informant

B: Interviewer

A: It’s this festival question mark. Called Qingming. It’s the date where the dead will supposedly return from, supposedly come back to life and yeah, I don’t remember the story associated with it. But I do know that this day every year, most Chinese people visit their deceased people, deceased family or friends’ grave and then bring them food and stuff.

B: Do you remember the date of this festival?

A: If I search I can find it *laughter*

B: Do you know what kinds of food people would bring?

A: People bring all kinds of food. Something special I guess question mark. We have something it’s called hell’s—not hell but like, there isn’t a concept of hell or heaven but there is a place where people go to when they die and Chinese people will believe that is where reincarnation occurs. Um what we do on Qingming is that we burn money to them and we also burn other paper products like we burn a paper car, a paper house. And supposedly anything that’s burned by smoke should be received by them. And so we also it’s not particularly related to Qingming. People do that on Qingming, but it’s not just Qingming, it’s anytime for their dead family friends. It’s called, they do, it’s like some kind of intense. It’s sort of similar to what you would see in a budest temple. I’m not sure if you’ve seen one before. People like to burn three of them for dead people. It’s said that two is for alive and three is for dead and then sometimes people do one. Anyway, it’s singular and people just use the smoke to convey their thoughts, feelings, and emotions to people it’s believed that anything that burns can be transferred.

Context: The informant was born and grew up in China before moving to the United States to attend High School. The informant grew up always away of Qingming, but has not partaken in the tradition as of yet.

Analysis: Qingming is also known as Tomb Sweeping Day. It is celebrated in China and several other countries in South East Asia. It is celebrated around April 5th as the spring time is supposed to be a time for people to enjoy the outside and take care of their deceased loved ones’ graves. Burning paper makes the paper disappear similar to how a deceased person disappears from their body when they die. Furthermore, fire and smoke climb upward away from human existence and therefore mirrors the deceased’s journey. Therefore the offerings are following a similar path to the person they are supposed to reach. The informant is unsure as to the reasoning behind the purpose of burning three incenses as opposed to two.