Background: My informant was a young adult who was born in the Watertown and raised in the nearby city of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, one of the larger metropolitan areas of the Midwest and the largest city in South Dakota. He continued to live there for the last 20 years and is very much a Sioux Falls resident.
Main Piece: My informant told me about a well-known urban legend in the Sioux Falls area known as the Sioux Falls Bikini Lady. She is this mysterious woman that frequents the downtown area and runs up and down the streets doing exercise while in a bikini. It is somewhat of a landmark of the city and its culture, because despite the common cold weather, she continues to do this. It is of such fame that many people engage with this local legend by creating websites, twitter accounts and taking photographs. No one really knows why she does it as she doesn’t explain it herself publicly, but it is something that has spread throughout the town, to the point of becoming common hearsay and rumor.
Performance Context: According to my informant, he learned about the story from someone on the bus. He said he could be mistaken, but he isn’t sure. The story seems to be one that comes around the community through rumor and speculation.
My Thoughts: I think it is interesting because it talks a lot about how we look for interesting stories not only in old tales, but in the people around us. We often talk about how our communities build and how they are constructed, and a large part of that is the stories that connect us with one another. We look for not only the strange and the potentially dangerous through the unknown or the creepy, like the house on the hill. We also look for it in our everyday lives and in everyday objects. When we see something that is just a bit off, but yet so normal, we like to imagine what gives it that quirk. When we can’t find out, we begin to discuss it with others, forming conspiracy and theory. This kind of thing can cross generations. What will happen when she passes? Will someone take on the mantle of SF Bikini Lady? It remains to be seen, but these types of things are the precedents for traditions. What if one day there was a SF Bikini Lady 4K run with everyone dressing in bikinis? That would be amazing to see happen.