Tag Archives: dating

That’s So Camp


A is one of my best friends. She is a senior in high school from my hometown. She enjoys writing poetry as well as knitting.

The context of this piece was during a facetime call in which I asked her to share some pieces of folklore with me, and she referred to this collection as “camp.” I asked her to elaborate on the phrase for the collection and to explain its meaning. 


Me: “Where would you say you got ‘camp’ from?”

A: “I like it a little bit when people don’t initially understand what the hell I’m talking about. And that was one of the phrases where if I said it, people would just be like, ‘What the hell does that even mean?’ I just like things that are very subjective to interpretation. And ‘that’s so camp,’ depending on how I say it, is just something that can be very subjective and it can be an insult or a compliment or just an observation. I’m pretty sure it was after an award ceremony, maybe the Met Gala and the theme was ‘camp.’ That was years ago and I remember being like, ‘That is such a good definition,’ I need to start using that and now I think it’s a staple of my vocabulary.”

Me: “What does it mean to you?”

A: “I feel like it’s very hard to describe verbally. I would say camp is when you can tell someone is trying to do something where there’s a very large amount of effort present, and the execution is more questionable. So like, sometimes outfits are camp in that sometimes they’re good because they’re camp and sometimes they’re bad because they’re camp and it’s just about how you sort of pull it off.”


I also use this term — “camp” tends to refer to things that are a little weird or off-putting, but not always necessarily in a bad way. For example, things that are eccentric are camp. Anything that is camp also tends to be somewhat amusing. They can be artificial or self-consciously ironic. In a sense, it refers to things that are so bad they are good because of the intention. Today, there almost seems to be a revitalization of the appreciation for things that aren’t perfect, and even more so, things that are intentionally imperfect. Irony, especially amongst the younger generation, has taken hold as a point of appreciation. There seems to also be a lack of desire for people to point out that one thing is absolutely cool or uncool, and “camp” is a way to fit in between that. With such a loose definition, it’s easier to judge ambiguously, which can serve a good purpose at a time when our statements are much more highly scrutinized.

100% Successful Pickup Line

Main Piece: 

The following is transcribed from a conversation with the informant, CZ.

CZ: So here’s how the pickup line goes: “If I was to ask you out right now, would your answer to that question be the same as your answer to this question?

GK: I don’t really get it

CZ: It’s a bit confusing, but here’s how it works. First of all you need to split it up into the two questions because it could be a bit difficult to explain. So in this case: 

Question #1 Question #2
“Will you go out with me”? “Will your answer to (question #1) be same as the answer to this question”?

Question #2 will be the answer she gives you, because that is, in essence, the question you are asking her. And as it turns out, the answer to Question #1 will always be “yes”. Here is why:

Answer Answer in terms of Question #2 Interpretation Answer to Question #1
No No, the answer to you asking me out will not be the same to the answer I just gave you.  She said “no” meaning the answer to Question #1 is “yes” because the answers won’t be the same Yes
Yes Yes, the answer to you asking me out will be the same to the answer I just gave you.  She said “yes” meaning the answer to Question #1 is “yes” because the answers will be the same Yes

Background: The informant is a 20 year old college student from Indiana. Like a lot of people his age, he likes to use pickup lines to hit on women either in person or on dating apps. He says to have found this one online, and has has used it on Tinder before. 

Context: The informant and I discussed this pickup line over Face Time. 

My Thoughts: This pickup line is interesting because I feel like it breaks the mold of most other pickup lines. This one really makes you think about it, while other ones are cheesy and are easy to pickup on. That makes me wonder about the success that this has, because it took me a while to figure out what he meant by this. I would be inclined to think this would be more successful on a dating app because you are not talking to the person face to face, which gives the recipient more time to think about the question. If you were to try this pickup line in person, I feel like it would lead to an awkward silence, due to its complexity. This pickup line also made me reflect on how technology has influenced dating amongst a younger generation. People are now able to swipe on profiles, making it way easier to find love connections. I feel like this is bad for society because it takes away the human interaction that was needed to accomplish this before the rise in dating apps.

“Don’t date your dance partner”

“Something we tell our new people is a warning that you shouldn’t date your dance partner. So, here’s the thing: this used to be followed all the time. When I got here, nobody was dating anybody on our team, and this is out of 50 people on the dance team – I don’t know the real number – and about 20 competitors…wait, I take it back. There was one couple: Nick and Claire. Nick and Claire were dating, but nobody else was dating. Nick and Claire came in as a couple already, and so they became dance partners. They didn’t dance together for everything, though they did dance together for some things. What we don’t like is when people meet through the ballroom dance team, dance with each other for a while, and then say, ‘You know what? I’mma date you.’ This happens in the professional world a lot. Professional dancers, they’re usually 16-17 years old – they’re young – when they meet each other. Well, sometimes they’re 23-24 years old when they meet each other, but usually it’s fairly young, and they dance with each other for a while. Whatever the exact age, they’re young, and they’re all kinds of hormonal, and they’re dancing with a very attractive person, these professionals. ‘I’m hormonal. I’m dancing with a hot person, and this hot person knows how to use their body. Yes, I’m going to try to make something out of this,’ and they do, all the time. They get married sometimes, and then they divorce each other. It almost always happens. I mean, there are a few cases where it doesn’t happen – they’ve learned how to make it work – but it’s usually a disaster in the professional world to date your dance partner, because you break up, and then you can’t dance together anymore, and the you gotta go find a new partner, but you’re older, and everybody’s already taken. Then, your career is done. So, finding somebody you click with is important, and then not trying to have sex with that person is equally important once that first part is done. On our team, we recommend the same thing. If you have a dance partner, that’s great. Work really hard to not date them or try to be more than friends with them, because if you do, when you try, it’s an easy way to lose a dance partner. So, it’s a little odd that we had a lot of people over the last two or three years end up dating the people that they dance with. Sometimes, they started to dance with the people that they’re dating. That happened to me. That happened to…actually, I think that happened to most people. They met first, started dating, and then said, ‘hey, we’re going to dance together.’ Usually, we’re still pretty good about being like, ‘We’re going to dance together. Oooh, I like you. Let’s do this thing.’ It’s easier when you go from dating to dance partners than from dance partners to dating, but it still carries risks, so we advise people to treat your dance relationship like your regular relationship: talk about things and seek help from others when you need it.”

Background Information and Context:

What the informant is describing is based on his years of experience on the SC Ballroom and Latin Dance Team. There is no way to say – at least, not without surveying members of multiple dance teams – whether the phenomenon of having a lot of couples on a dance team is exclusive to the SC Ballroom and Latin Dance team or, if it is not exclusive, if the couples on other dance teams act like those on USC’s team. Although, I have heard similar advice of being wary of the person with whom you start a relationship in other teams and in other contexts, such as work. This part of our conversation was more personal in nature than the topics that preceded, and I was mildly surprised that the informant, for the most part, kept his personal opinions out.

Collector’s Notes:

What was interesting about this topic is that I hadn’t originally intended to ask about it but noted to the informant that I found it odd that both of us are dating our dance partners. I’d heard the general opinion that dating your dance partner leads to unnecessary complications in both the romantic and dance relationship, but still, nobody dissuaded me when my boyfriend first asked me out, months after we’d started talking about becoming competition partners. On our team, there didn’t seem to be any negative examples of such a relationship to make me worry beyond the passing thought. I think it’s interesting that dancing, especially ballroom dancing, is heavily romanticized, and performers are criticized if their dance lacks passion, romance, tenderness, etc., but actual romance, specifically a new romance, is met with wariness. Moreover, it is interesting that popular media so often portrays romance/attraction and drama/angst as inextricable from each other. The connotations of dancing and romance seem at odds with each other.

Pico y Pala

Ok, so we have another saying in Spanish that is, when you’re trying to, like, go out with a girl—or a guy, it doesn’t matter—and that girl doesn’t wanna go out with you, the thing that we do is called “pico y pala” which refers to pickaxe and shovel, and it just means that you have to, like, break down the rock before you move it. That’s basically what the saying says.



This saying basically says that dating someone you like may not always come so easily—you may have to “break down the rock” or work hard to crack the proverbial shell to win the heart of a particular woman or man of interest (especially if she/he plays hard to get, you will have to toil to get what you want). Sergio had to break down the rock a lot when he was younger, as many girls were either very shy or pretended like they didn’t like him.


Sergio says he learned this phrase at a very young age from his father—perhaps around eleven or twelve years old—which shows a big difference between American and European culture when it comes to dating and sex. Most American parents shelter their children from sexual/dating related content as it is considered more adult.


I have never heard of an American equivalent to “pico y pala” but I have heard about women playing hard to get and having to work to win her heart. My parents never spoke to me about such things when I was eleven or twelve. I learned most things about dating and sex on my own or from friends.

Bringing a girl to a party is like bringing sand to a beach.

“Bringing a girl to a party is like bringing sand to a beach.”


My informant, Andrew, is a college student who regularly attends parties as well as throwing them.  He had been debating who to bring as a date to the New Years Party that would ring in the year of 2007 in Huntington Beach, CA.  He also kept in mind of who he would want to kiss at midnight.  When he was hanging out with a guy friend of his, Andrew asked his friend’s opinion of who he should bring.  His friend who was the one throwing the party admonished Andrew for thinking about bringing a date, saying, “Bringing a girl to a party is like brining sand to a beach.”  He meant that there will be plenty of girls at his party, so why should Andrew tie himself down from having as much fun with them as possible because of a date?  His friend assured him that there will definitely be enough girls with whom to kick of the New Year, so hearing the similie, Andrew decided not to bring a date.

As soon as I heard Andrew tell me this, I understood the meaning.  While girls may not appreciate hearing this, guys would catch on quickly.  Just as bringing sand to the beach is futile in that there is already an abundant supply of sand at the beach, bringing a girl to a party is also useless where they will be flocks of girls who are eager to have fun, so there is no need to bring a date.