The En-En’s Mile

The informant is a college student from the Whittier neighborhood of Los Angeles. He marched drum line all four years and was drum captain his senior year.

The En-En’s Mile was a tradition performed by every freshman in the informant’s high school drum line since before the informant was a member. The second week of school, after weeks of practicing in the summer, the band has its first competition. Before this competition is when this tradition happens. En-En’s is a Chinese/Japanese/Continental all-you-can-eat buffet in the informant’s hometown. There are many legends and rumors surrounding this establishment, most of them making claims questioning its ingredients, cooking methods, and health standards. This is why En-En’s is picked. The entire drum line goes the morning before the competition and the upperclassmen bring plates of food to the freshmen. They typically pick the least appetizing food and always make sure to include plenty of Jell-O. The freshmen are to finish whatever is put in front of them (within reason). Then, the drum line goes to rehearsal early and all of the freshman must run a mile before it starts. Although there is no time limit, the rest of the band is usually watching and telling them to hurry up. Once they have finished the mile, they are allowed to compete as a member of the marching band.

This tradition is definitely hazing, which has to do with liminal points. The freshmen, in this case, are going from being inexperienced newbies to competing members. Completing the unpleasant task of eating bad food and then running a mile is symbolic of this transition. It shows that they are committed enough to put themselves through the pain and become a member.