The Beanie Dip

Main Piece

The Beanie Dip is an Southern Methodist University (SMU) band initiation ritual which revolves around the use of the Beanie, a traditional band hat.

The Beanie Dip takes place just after Band Camp, which occurs in late summer before the Fall semester begins. The Sophomores are recognized and initiated into the Band (“the freshmen aren’t because they haven’t finished playing one season yet, which consists of both football and basketball” –AB). The whole freshman class is guided by 2 seniors on a route from the freshman hall to the main campus fountain at midnight. The sophomores are escorting and policing the freshmen. The escort arrangement consists of 4 lines: the inner 2 lines are freshmen, with the sophomores flanking in two lines on the outside. On this walk, the seniors tell stories about the history of the university. The freshmen are strictly prohibited from speaking.

Once the group arrives at the fountain, the fountain is ringed by juniors and seniors in a circle. When the sophomores arrive, they become the closest circle to the fountain, while the freshmen are the furthest circle, merely observing. One senior is standing in the fountain and gives a short speech. The sophomores are then told to take their beanies out, submerge their beanie fully in the water, and then dunk that water over their head. AB calls this part “signifying a birth or entry into the band.” After this, the sophomores are congratulated by the juniors and seniors.

Informant background

AB is a university student at Southern Methodist University (Dallas), originally from the California Bay Area. He is a member of the SMU band.

Performance context

AB described this to me during a phone call when I asked him to tell me about SMU traditions, rituals, and rumors.


The Beanie Dip is the threshold ceremony (i.e. the initiation ritual) that signifies the sophomores’ official entrance into being a fully-fledged band member. Interestingly, the use of pouring water from a fountain over the head strongly mimics the Christian tradition of baptism, and AB even used the word “birth” when describing how this ritual is the start of a person’s official band career.