WD: “Spodies are, in Seattle and maybe other places, but they are social events, generally they happen on Fridays, Saturdays. Basically, a bunch of high schoolers go to public parks—there’s a bunch of spots that each have code names, so one is called ‘The Rock,’ one is called, ‘Woodlands,’ some of them are the names of the park, but some of them are other things. You fill a big container with alcohol and also juices and stuff, so it’s like a punch bowl. You do that, not every weekend, but a lot of weekends, high schoolers just go and get drunk in these parks, but the thing is that the police come literally every time because they know exactly where the spots are. So, the events only last for, like, two hours and then you have to run off into the park.”
The informant is a 20-year-old college student from Seattle, Washington. He never attended a “spodie,” but described it as a common, well-known tradition among teenagers in the Seattle Metropolitan area. While in some areas, the word “spodie” refers to the actual drink, among his peers it referred only to the event. WD never attended a spodie but knew that people at his high school—generally the “athletic students” and “cool kids”– attended them, so they do indicate social status. The prospect of being chased by the police is part of the event’s appeal, he said, as rebelling against authorities appeals to teenagers. The risk of getting caught and punished is thrilling to young people.
I think that spodies, like keg parties or more common teenage gatherings centered around drinking, reflect social status. One’s attendance signifies a kind of insider status, as a person must have the social ties to know that the party is occurring and also know the meanings of the locations’ code names. The punchbowl of miscellaneous alcohols and juices is also distinctly teenaged. Since teenagers cannot legally buy alcohol and probably cannot afford to provide it for an entire party, they make a convivial ritual out of individuals mixing whatever they can find. Spodies therefore give young people not only the chance to get drunk, but also provide an opportunity for social bonding.
I would argue that spodies also appeal to young people because they allow them to participate in a longstanding tradition of rebellion that is unique to Seattle. Spodies allow the consolidation of a community of Seattle teenagers, many of whom likely heard about spodies as children and excitedly anticipate becoming old enough to participate in them. They are appealing in their novelty. The events are therefore a kind of rite of passage as well, indicating one’s ascent into high school or teenage life. The expectation of getting caught also compels young people to participate in spodies, where they can experience the thrill of reckless rule breaking and evading punishment. Spodies being a group activity offers a layer of protection to individuals, a sense of solidarity between the attendees and of being invisible in the crowd. One can interpret running from the police in this group context as a form of group bonding and connecting with a regional tradition.