Tag Archives: partying

Marching Band Shot Taking

Tweeeeeeeet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, down, don’t die preformed

“Tweeee^eet tweet tweet tweet tweet down, don’t die”

I’m in band, I am a college student of legal age, who occasionally recreationally takes alcohol, in a safe, consensual manner (laughter) [consensual between you and the alcohol?] Yes. (laughter) [So where will you use this?] Often times I’ll use this right before parties. [So you’d use it at parties, do you think you would use it (this method of taking shots) at a non-band party?] Probably not because I think I’d look like a weirdo. [Who taught you this? Who did you originally learn it from?] The people who were in band before me, so like when I was a freshman they were seniors and it just gets passed down. [Would that be your section or just general band? (both the taking of the shot and the teaching of the shot] General band, but I learned it from my section. [Why do people in the band say this?] We say this before we run down on the field, we say “tweeeeet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, down, don’t die” and then we would start going “aaaaaaa” and then running on the field, and then because another huge part of the band other than marching band and music is alcohol (laughs) we will also do that before we drink. [So what does the tweet stand for? How does that become a thing?} the tweet mimics the sounds of the whistle that Jake uses to cue us off (to go running onto the field).

-Interview with the Informant

The USC Marching Band became as well known and impressive as it is today thanks to its previous director, Arthur Bartner. His tenure at USC is marked by the current band for having an incredibly football team, manly mentality as well as a band that was rowdy and alcoholic. The identity of the band has shifted since Dr. Jacob Vogel, the current director, took the reigns, however the importance of alcohol for band members has not been completely erased. Band members spend much of their time together, especially during the fall football season and as a result they have created a folk group that transcends just being a marching band and is also a social group outside of band itself. They have band exclusive parties, drinking traditions, particular mixed drinks made special by each different section, all of these different social aspects that are considered a part of band despite not being practice or music related. Using the folklore of their band activities, such as being tweeted off before running onto the field, they extend the group’s activities to drinking, partying, and socializing outside of just the marching band practice and game hours.



Informant: So Russefeiring is a celebration of graduates from high school… I guess high school, sort of… The age is kind of in between high school and college I think, ‘cause most of them are 18 or 19. Um, but, you know, they’re ending a three-year academic education. And so they celebrate in the week before Independence Day, where they, um…  They wear these special suits or coats through that whole time that they decorate and draw on and have their friends sign them and all kinds of crafty stuff. And then they have graduation hats that have this long string coming down. And during this week they have all these obstacle things that they have to do, and everything that they do gives them a little, kind of… Treat, or an award that they tie onto their hats. So let’s say you kiss the president of a school, then you get a knot in the string on your hat… And then if you drink a whole bottle of champagne in one, big gulp, um… Then you get a champagne uh–what’s it called…? The cork. And you tie that onto the string or into the hat… Like silly things, you know?

Interviewer: Can you talk a little bit about the different colors of the uniforms? 

Informant: Yeah so if you went to the schools where you, um, studied economy and finance… Then you were called blåruss… Like “blue russ,” and your hat’s blue. If you were into the STEM subjects, then your hat is red. And traditionally, if you… Went to a school that wasn’t strictly academic, like a trade school, then your hat would be black… I think you can study language, like Norwegian, at both schools, so it just depends on what school you went to.

Interviewer: Can you talk about the bus culture? 

Informant: So their last year, the year that they graduate, the students start early planning for their graduation and for this one week. So a lot of kids will get together and they will purchase a bus and then they will decorate the bus… It’s kind of a van more than a bus though. I would call it a van… And they will decorate it on the outside. They will usually ask a younger student who is not graduating if they will be willing to drive them around for that week.

Interviewer: And can you talk a bit about the drinking culture during that final week?

Informant: During that week the school knows this is happening. I mean, you still have to go to class, but people don’t take it that seriously. Because once Indepence Day has happened, everyone is studying. ‘Cause all the exams are after Independence Day. So before that it’s not really taken seriously. People are probably drunk in class. You don’t really go home that week… You sleep on the bus. You sleep wherever. You go home to shower every once in a while. Maybe. 


Informant: Our bus was both boys and girls… And I would imagine there were around ten of us, I think… You know, cause it costs money. We had to buy the bus and it costs money to fix it up a little bit… We didn’t have group names or get pins. I think a lot of people do now, but we didn’t.

Interviewer: Did you ever hear about your parents’ Russefeiring?

Informant: No, ‘cause none of them went to school like I did, you know? My mom didn’t go to that kind of school. And my dad, back then, he went to a sort of trade school, and he was much older when he did that. So they didn’t celebrate that way. Cause none of my parents were academic.


Russefeiring is a celebration, commemorating the end of the students’ studies. It is also a rite of passage into adulthood. During this one week, debauchery and mischief are encouraged. The students become trickster figures, of a sort, as they act impulsively, break rules, and emphasize humor and fun above all. The students are in a liminal place, on the threshold between adolescence and adulthood, as they are not quite students any longer, but also have not yet graduated. They are unstable figures, as demonstrated by the mischief they enact. Russefeiring also seems to be a sort of catharsis before final exams. One might even consider it a catharsis preceding adulthood. Once they have graduated, they must find jobs or dive more seriously into their studies at professional schools (ex. medical school). Russefeiring is one last teenage-hurrah; it is a week of instability before the students have to become stable adults.


Further reading:

Sande, Allan. “The Norwegian ‘russefeiring’. The Use of Alcohol as a Ritual in the ‘rite of Passage’ to Adulthood.” Nordisk Alkohol- & Narkotikatidskrift : NAT, vol. 17, no. 5-6, SAGE Publications, 2000, pp. 340–54, doi:10.1177/1455072500017005-603.

Beer before, liquor never sicker. Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear.

Liquor before beer you’re in the clear. Beer before liquor never sicker.

My informant stated that he learned this lesson the wrong way. He stated that one night in high school he was doing multiple beer bongs and then took shots of liquor after. He stated that by the end of the night he was in the worse pain of his life from vomiting. His friend soon came over to him and stated that he did not follow the golden rule: “Liqour before beer, your in the clear. Beer before liquor never sicker.” Ever since then, my informant states on nights he knows he is drinking, he will take a shot first and then drink whatever he wants after.

My informant also states that he now tells this to all of his friends. When I asked him if there is any scientific proof of this claim, he stated that there was none that he knew of. He also states that he has heard some people say the opposite way, that “beer before liquor, you in the clear, liquor before beer, never sicker.” He however states that all of his friends follow his variation.

This is an interesting “urban legend,” as it deals with a popular practice in drinking alcohol socially. What is interesting is that this folklore is spread through experience and there is in fact no scientific proof that this is true. Some ideas of where this came from is that liquor is much more potent than beer, thus have liquor layer your stomach before beer may been a good way to protect one’s stomach. Either way, the people that follow this legend, believe whole heartedly as it in their mind prevents a horrible night. Whether or not it is a placebo effect, or if it actually works is up to the believer.