FIRST RAIN – Festival

Transcript of recorded audio
“Oh my god, I almost forgot First Rain. Okay so, this isn’t like, a legend, so much as it is a holiday. But every um, okay, cuz there are really specific rules surrounding it. So I feel like it counts. So, when first rain happens, um, you’re suppose to strip naked, and run to Overs, where the pool is, and you’re suppose to jump in the pool. But there are very specific, like, conditions that depend on what is first rain. So like it has to rain at a specific time and it has to rain like on a weekday, like it can’t rain on the weekend, or like a Friday, it has to be like Monday through Thursday and it has to rain from like… oh gosh, it has to rain from like, I want to say its like 10 to like 3. Like it has to rain for like 4 hours, I think. And I don’t know why the rules are so specific. Uh, legend says that it’s because, I guess like one year like, there were like, a bunch of like false starts or like maybe First Rain kept on happening like too soon. Um, there were a couple… um, false starts my Freshman year. Uh like, people who were like, oh its first rain, but like it wasn’t. Cuz like the specific rules hadn’t been fulfilled. But Sophomore year, like it like went off without a hitch. And I-I like, looked outside my room and there’s just, naked people running. Um, I never participated because I have a shit immune system. And honestly, I don’t know who started it. But it is like, a legitimate, like holiday, that I don’t think anyone else like celebrates. I bet you it like ties back to the fact that like being in UCSC, like on that campus in the forest, you feel that much more connected to nature.”

The informant providing this story goes to UCSC. They likely heard it from their classmates (or if not that, from seeing a bunch of naked people jump into the pool in the rain. From their perspective they don’t seem to participate in the tradition, however, they also seem very positive towards it as well. There’s a clear point of pride in the way they talk.

This story was given as a set of voice memos. Most of them are more related to legends and magical sights on campus. But this story (which was the last one provided) is about a holiday they have. The nature of the performance, which inherently creates two separate out groups (the ones who jump in early and the ones who don’t jump at all) is something I find interesting. This is also one of the many times that the speaker has contextualized her story through the nearby forest. It seems to act as a centerpiece for a lot of these stories, even the ones where very little relation is bared to the actual woods.

What’s weird about this festival is how obvious it is. Knowing the campus and its culture, this is exactly the kind of thing I would expect from them, to the point where it almost feels stereotypical. I feel like thats the point. In a way, this tradition seems to take the most mockable elements of the hippie movement (a movement which the school was closely associated with) and embraces it wholeheartedly. Another interesting element is the practice of open nudity in relation to autumn (when we might expect the first rain to actually happen). One might imagine that in a more traditional society, this would be more of a springtime celebration. But in a way, this tradition almost seems to mock that, by introducing a lively, outdoors celebration that forces people to jump into cold water. It almost comes across as a dare to thwart the seasonal change.