Author Archives: Michelle Wang

Dance Team Initiation

Background: Anna Lim is a 21-year-old student living in Los Angeles, CA. She is a student at USC. She is currently studying electrical engineering.

Original script: “I had an initiation for my dance team in my sophomore year of college. It was probably one of the funniest and most ridiculous things I’ve had to do during my time here at USC. They basically gave us a huge laundry list of things to do around campus – tasks to complete, basically. It included dabbing in McCarthy quad, ordering a drink at Starbucks with a fake name, finding a DPS officer’s scooter and taking a picture on top of it, etc. So they told us we had to finish all the tasks by a certain time and meet at one of the dance team member’s apartments. When we got there, we were told to get into a single file line and close our eyes. They led us into the apartment room – which was pitch black by the way – and when I opened my eyes, I could see the team members holding candles and chanting something underneath their breaths. They gave us a piece of paper that held an oath to the team on it and we had to memorize three paragraphs of this oath in 10 minutes. It was incredible nerve wracking and so much pressure because the team members were literally in the room with us looking hella intimidating with their candles and deadpan faces. Then when we completed that task, we had to kneel before the captain and swear our allegiance to our captain’s dog, Maggie. It was honestly such an otherworldly experience, but absolutely hilarious at the same time.”

Background Information about the Piece by the informant: My informant was on Break Through Hip Hop at USC and this was her sophomore year of college

Thoughts about the piece: This initiation sounds hilarious and like a lot of fun. I like how they didn’t force you to drink or do things you didn’t want to; rather, the whole thing sounds pretty silly and just a great way to bond with your fellow new initiates. .


OK Game

Background: Anna Lim is a 21-year-old student living in Los Angeles, CA. She is a student at USC. She is currently studying electrical engineering.

Original script: “I remember I used to play this game in elementary school. There was no name for it. Basically, you put your index finger and thumb into an ‘O’ shape — basically the OK sign  Then you have to make your friend see it in a sneaky way. So, for example, your friend could say that they dropped something and you would look down and see the hand sign. Then, you’d have to get a flick on the forehead or a pinch on the arm as punishment. I remember that me and my friends used to take this game so seriously, we would come up with the most creative ways to trick the other person into seeing this hand sign. From lying, to tripping your friends, to plotting with other people, my friends and I came up with, honestly, probably hundreds of ways to trick each other. And I would fall for it every single time. I wasn’t a very bright kid. But yeah, this game was so fun and I don’t see anybody playing it anymore. I wonder what happened to it and what kids these days are playing.”

Background Information about the Piece by the informant: My informant went to an elementary school in Cerritos, CA. It was a magnet school. She would always hang out with the girls during recess and since they didn’t want to get sweaty, she suspects that this is how the game came to be – because it is not athletic and can be done with anybody.

Thoughts about the piece: It’s crazy how games can be so simple and easy to play – no intricate rules or props or cards, just your hands and crazy schemes. It reminds me of how simple elementary school was and how easily amused we are.

Spiderweb Game

Background: Kayla Saikaly is a 21-year-old student living in Los Angeles, CA. She is a student at UCSD. She was born and raised in Southern California.

Original script: “So there was a game that I used to play all the time when I was kid. So, I was kind of a bully in elementary school. No, seriously. I would always boss all the boys around and I was like the ringleader of the girls, because back then it was always boys versus girls. So, I invented this game – or I thought I did, honestly I probably read or watched it somewhere and forgot about it – called the Spider web game. In the playground, we had this huge spider web playground structure that we called the jail. We would put all the boys in there through physical force – kicking, scratching, punching, slapping was all fair game. They would try to get out and we would give them 10 seconds to run and then we would chase after them to put them back in the cage. There was no real ‘victory’ honestly it was just a bunch of kids fighting each other… but playfully!! I swear, I didn’t make anybody cry or anything. But I did punch a bunch of guys and I kicked a guy in the balls for the first and hopefully only time of my life ”

Background Information about the Piece by the informant: My informant went to an elementary school in Cerritos, CA. It was a magnet school. She said she looks back on elementary school fondly and even though she was a bully, everybody did respect her and she keeps in contact with some of her friends back then

Thoughts about the piece: This game honestly sounds so violent to me, but I’m sure that as kids, it isn’t bad at all. I look back at elementary school and am in constant awe of how much energy I had, so I can see how this game would be entertaining to children – running, kicking, screaming.  


Bear in the Cave

Background: D. Sabela Grimes is a 59-year-old man living in Los Angeles, CA. He is a dance professor at USC. Originally, he intended on going to law school, but decided to change his career path to become a dance teacher.

Original script: “so, um, there are two best friends in the woods… and one of them was like ‘yo – because that’s how people talk in the wood – do you hear that sound?” They turn around and see a, um, bear behind them. And instantly, one friend turns to the other and goes “yo, I’ll distract the bear while you book it to that cave near us. GO.” So they, um, split off and one friend, um, climbs up a tree and is waving his hands and like doing these crazy thangs to get the bear’s attention. Um, so the friend looks up and sees his friend running in and out of the cave. So he’s like “yo, what are you doing?? I said I’d distract the bear while you get to a safe place!! Why the flip are you out of the safe place?” His friend keeps running in then out then in then out and the bear’s sitting there like “What the flip?”. He just couldn’t understand what his friend was doing so he goes “yo, why aren’t you listening to what I’m saying? Get in the cave and be safe!” His friend yells back and goes, “I’m doing this because there’s a bear inside the cave!”

Background Information about the Piece by the informant: His mother used this story to teach Professor Grimes about how people always have unseen situations and you must be empathetic at all times.

Thoughts about the piece: I actually really love this piece because Professor Grimes related it to one of the students in our class who hadn’t been showing up to class. The student shared that he decided to drop pre-med over spring break as a senior and pursue a job straight out of college. So, he had been missing class to go to job interviews and job fairs. Professor Grimes told the class that this was a lesson for everybody – that every person is going through something in their lives and as a professor, he doesn’t just want to be an authority figure. He wants to create real, human relationships. This really touched me because he, as a professor, truly cared for his students. I felt loved and respected in his class.

Cutting Nails at Night

Background: Stella is a 55-year-old woman living in Cerritos, CA. She was born in Seoul and has lived in South Korea for the majority of her life until she moved here for college. She stays at home. Before that, she worked at a hair salon as a beautician. She is married and has two grown children.

Original script: “You must never cut your nails at night because if you do, spirits will come after you and your life will be shorter.”

Background Information about the Piece by the informant: Her mother told her about this old Japanese superstition when she was younger. Apparently people thought nails contained a part of your soul, so by cutting it at night you were releasing parts of your soul into the darkness where spirits rest.

Thoughts about the piece: I found this superstition to be very scary when I was younger. Surprisingly, I still do not cut my nails at night because this superstition scared me so thoroughly. It has stuck with me through the years and now I avoid cutting my nails in darkness.