Tag Archives: kiss

Kissing the Wall


Me: “Do people look for their specific lip marks when they come back?”

Informant: “Oh god no, it would be impossible to find them.”

In the informant’s ballet company, when a member was doing their last performance of a show (as in, your last ever Nutcracker performance), it was tradition to put on bright red lipstick and kiss a specific wall, leaving a mark. The mark not only signified you were a part of the show, but was symbolic of a part of you always being tied to the company. People would come back years after graduating to visit the wall they had kissed previously.



The informant was involved in ballet through most of her life and knows a lot about the secrets and traditions carried with being a part of a ballet company. She takes them all very seriously and indicates that most all of the other dancers did as well. According to the informant, everyone kissed the wall at some point as long as they were in the company for a full run of a show. The informant wasn’t clear about exactly when you kissed the wall — it was after the show, but not necessarily directly after completion. Additionally, the go-to action didn’t used to be kissing the wall. The tradition used to be signing it, but it got too messy, so the lip marks were the evolved method.



Perhaps the most interesting part of this piece of folklore is that the tradition changed from signing the wall to kissing it, for reason of “the signing got too messy,” according to the informant. It’s perhaps telling of how significant or deeply rooted a tradition is when the reason for completely changing it is one of rather minor inconvenience.

Jason Kidd’s Free Throw Ritual

Click here for video.
“Even in the NBA, players have superstitions. For example, Jason Kidd, who whenever he shoots a free throw will touch his butt and kiss the crowd before he shoots.”

This ritual is a way of to soothing oneself during a stressful time through repetition of a familiar action. At the same time it is an act of showmanship, directly addressing the audience. Many athletes have rituals that they perform before or after games, as there is a strong belief in luck among them. This makes sense as the outcome of many athletic competitions doesn’t come down purely to skill. There is often a strong element of chance or luck involved in sports, so athletes often feel like luck and ritual is very important.

The idea of using familiar repetitions to relax is also seen when athletes or students choose to wear their “lucky socks” during a competition or exam. Whereas the item probably does not improve a person’s luck, it is often comforting by providing a memory as a souvenir of success.