Author Archives: Hannah Puente

PLUR Ritual- Rave Culture

Peace, Love, Unity, Respect

My informant was in her first year of college when a friend asked her if she would like to go to rave. She attends college in southern California where there is a large amount of raves held. A rave is a concert where multiple DJs play predominantly techno, electronic, trance, and house music. A whole rave culture developed out of the way the music makes one feel and the drug culture attached to it. Ecstasy, is the most commonly used drug at a rave and is known for its euphoric effects. In this euphoria, users created many rituals that made the drug trip even more potent and exciting.

One such ritual is called PLUR, used for the trading of rave bracelets called candy. My informant was taught that the week, up to a day before the actual rave, you make candy. Candy are brightly colored, beaded bracelets, often with words or phrases on them in letter beads. At the rave, you wear all the candy you made on your arms and perform the ritual throughout the night.

PLUR stands for Peace, Love, Unity, Respect. The two participants stand facing each other. They then extend the arm from which they are trading the candy from towards the other person. Simultaneously, the participants make the peace sign with the outstretched hand and touch the tips of their fingers together, this stands for “Peace”. Next they both form a half a heart with their hands and form a full heart together, “Love”. Next they touch hands, palm to palm, “Unity”. Lastly they interlock fingers, standing for “Respect”. While going through the motions, they say each word that the motion symbolizes. After they have said “Respect”, one at a time, with their free hand, select the bracelet they are going to trade, slide it down their arm and over their clasped hands onto the other’s wrist/arm. Usually both participants give a piece of candy or you can just give a pice away. The goal is to trade with as many people as you can throughout the night. This is a way to meet as many people as you can and spread the message of PLUR, while leaving the other person a memento of the candy.

She was taught this by her “ravemother.” A rave-mother is the person who teaches one the ways of raving. They give their trainee their first piece of candy through their first PLUR ritual, and give them a rave name.

This ritual is usually done soley at raves, however, when wearing candy, with a willing other, one can do PLUR whenever and wherever. For example, we were at a rock concert together and some guy came up to us who saw she was wearing candy and on the spot asked to trade.

The rave setting is based on a group mentality, where participating in the rituals makes the culture much more than it appears. It is not just a concert to those who follow the traditions and keep them alive. This is what PLUR is, it developed through the desire to share, to touch, and to express one’s happiness with the people one is with in that moment. It is a ritual of spreading good will and good feelings to enhance the euphoria, to transcend to a new level, through the combination of mind altering drugs and music in a setting where others are looking for the exact same experience.

“Hotter Than a Box in a Forest Fire”

My informant first heard this phrase when he was a young boy, originally as “Hotter than a fox in a box in a forest fire” but over time, began saying the phrase without the fox included. He says it is just quicker to say.

He is from Sacramento, California and grew up hunting and fishing outside the city and in the mountains near Lake Tahoe. He is not quite sure if he heard the phrase from his father, grandfather, or uncle, but thinks he may have learned it while on a hunting trip with them.

The phrase refers to a person feeling very hot temperature-wise, to the point often of sweating or feeling uncomfortable. My informant says he uses the phrase most when in a hot car, or in a crowded, stuffy room.

A forest fire is known for being dangerous due to the fast pace with which the fire spreads. With loads of trees to burn as fuel, and abundant oxygen, the fire is very hard to contain. Forest fires most often occur when it has been very hot and very dry, usually during the summer. The heat of the fire, plus the heat of the summer air, makes an intensely hot combination.

Now a fox, is a forest dweller, known for its red colored fur, and red is the color of heat. People once hunted fox for their fur, which was used for warmth, so we know a fox is already well insulated from cold. In a box, surrounded by fire, that is basically raging uncontrollably, in an already hot temperature, we can safely assume the fox would be burning alive. So the simile maintains that a person is extremely hot, if they are hotter than a fox in a box in a forest fire!

“Spots on the Wall” by Who Flung Poo

This is a joke my informant learned while in grammar school in the 1970s. He is from Marin County, which is considered the north bay of the San Francisco Area. He said the joke was popular up through middle school, then pretty much disappeared. This he thinks is probably due to growing out of this type of humor, once one hits high school. After hearing the joke, I told it to a friend of mine, who told me they had heard it from their father, who is also from the San Francisco Bay area, having attended school in the south bay.

It seems this joke was popular in the 1970s for children in elementary and middle school, throughout the bay area. Children at this age find the subjects of poop and pee comical when used out of their regular context. It is a time in their lives where bodies are changing and growing and are often the topic of many a ridicule or joke.

The joke is interesting in its format; the set-up is a book or film title, and the punch-line is a name. My informant was not sure how the joke originated, just found it funny and a device for popularity. After hearing one of these jokes, kids would try to make up their own. A plethora of these kind of jokes gained popularity in the 1970s, combining a play on words, with witty spelling, sound, and/or word combinations, to make up some underlying dirty name. These jokes are not always obvious in their dirty meaning, which is probably why children found them so funny and exciting. They feel clever, like they have the inside story, or secret knowledge that adults do not understand.

I remember using a form of this type of joke when I was in elementary school. My brother and I were at our swim club waiting for our mom to finish playing tennis. In our boredom, we would go up to the receptionist, tell her we needed to find our mother and if she would announce her name over the P.A. speaker. “Ivana Pee” as a fake name, was one of our favorites. So she would announce, “Ivana Pee, Ivana Pee, please come to the front desk!” and we would giggle and giggle. The receptionist did not even notice what she was saying, but other kids in the room would snigger or giggle as well.

“Turtling” Sailing Term

Growing up in a beach town in southern California, where sailing is a popular activity, my informant has long been accustomed to its ways. She says it is a fun and exciting sport where controlling the boat is based on many aspects. The wind, water, and one’s body, all constantly moving components, are what make sailing function. With one heavy gust of wind, shift of body weight, or bad angle of hitting a wave, the boat can tip, flip, and turtle.

“Turtling” is when your boat capsizes, one hundred percent, upside down in water. This means the hull and mast are completely pointing down. The only thing visible from the surface of the water, is the bottom, convex, form of the boat, which resembles the top of a turtle shell.

She says this is a universal term used by sailors of all ages. It is most common in dinghies, which are small boats, although it can happen to large ships. Once the boat capsizes 180 degrees, the larger the boat, the harder it is to flip back over.

Turtles are known to be slow, and once flipped over, have a difficult time of flipping back. This particular flip for a boat, is the hardest to correct. It is ironic, that when a turtle flips upside down, their shell is facing down, when a ship flips upside down, the upward facing portion is the part that looks like a right side up turtle. Some sea turtles are very large, with shell spans that can reach the size of a small boat. Sea turtles as well migrate, and can been found off the coasts of every continent (1). This explains the universality of the phrase and how a boat in this position could really be mistaken for a turtle.


1. Nelson, David A. Life History And Environmental Requirements of Loggerhead Turtles. Rev. Washington, DC: Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Dept. of the Interior, 1988.

“Going Dumb” Hyphy Dancing

My informant is from the San Francisco bay area and part of a “hyphy gang” called “Yah Clique”. Hyphy is a movement started by the bay area, Oakland based rapper, Mac Dre. In his songs, he originated the word “hyphy” which stands for “the way of life for bay area rappers, specifically partying sensibilities”. Mac Dre’s death in 2004 was the catalyst to the exponential growth of hyphy in the mid 2000s. More and more rap artists emerged emulating his music styles, rhythms, and expanding on the ‘hyphy’ vocabulary.

My informant was in high school during this time and was greatly influenced by the rap music and the terms it created. One such term widely used was called “Going Dumb.”

“Going Dumb” means:

Acting/ Dancing in a way that is completely freeing; allowing your body to do what it is meant to do at that moment in time. Moving to the music with no inhibition. The use of “Dumb” represents the fact that you do not care how ridiculous, or crazy you appear.

“Dumb” is often a negative term, relating to a person’s lack of intelligence, or mental capacity. Looking “dumb” refers to someone who appears to be  unaware of what is socially acceptable to the point of criticism. So in the case of “hyphy,” going dumb takes the position that how one is moving may not be socially acceptable, but the fact one does not care what others think makes it “cool” or positive.