Rituals are repeated actions that smooth over recurring situations of excitement, tension, or difficulty. They play a major role in the lives of students, even though students may not always realize they are performing a ritual. Whether it's going out on a date, participating in a drinking game, being part of an ethnic festival, or helping out with the Dance Marathon, IU students are engaged in the repeated actions of rites and rituals.

Photo of "the ritualists"


Lindsey H's dating tales

Lindsay B's journal

King's drinking game

Kelli's beer pong

Shannon's tailgating tips

Sarah's F401 project on Malaysian Muslim fashion and Eid-Murbarak celebration

Megan's Dance Marathon

Elle’s drinking games

Matt’s Little 500 Interviews


Elle's online party scene


Shannon + Lindsey H, our specialists on rituals in the 2005



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Folklore Materials

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Shannon’s archive rite:

Original Contributor: Faulkner, John

Title: Tailgating An American Tradition

Class: F101

Semester/year: Fall/ 1981


“One particularly creative group, not having a real tailgate on their car, went to the junk yard and bought a tailgate from an old pickup truck. They set it on an ironing board and had a tailgate party in the true sense of the word.”


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Matt’s drinking games

Text 1:

Title of Collection: “Game Collection Form”

Collector’s Name: Anne Sheldon

Collection Location: Read Center

Date Collected: April 23, 1973 

There is only one drinking game described in this paper.  The author calls it “Indian”.  The game begins with all liquor being poured into a very large bowl.  The bowl is known as a “Buffalo Head”.  Everyone then sits at a table in a circle around the bowl and picks a sign that he does with his hands: peace sign, the finger, etc. The crowd then begins beating on the table like beating on a tom-tom. One person flashes their sign, then flashes someone else’s sign. This person then has to do their sign, and then someone else’s. This continues until someone screws up and forgets to do their sign. This person than has to drink a designated amount from the “Buffalo Head.”

Text 2:

Title of Collection: “Drinking Games”

Collector’s Name: David Gerst 

Collection Location: Briscoe

Date Collected: March 2nd, 1983                       


This paper is a collection of many different drinking games popular at the time and of the circumstances that surround the games. One of the games described is known as “Mexican.”  You get a pair of dice, an empty glass, and a whole lot of beer. You put the dice in the glass, shake them up, and turn it over.  You look at the number without letting anyone else see, and either say it truthfully to the next person, or lie.  The goal is to beat the person to the left with your roll. If you do they drink the lower number, but if you’re caught in a lie you drink your number. The paper also goes on to describe the game of “Quarters” and a game very similar to “Indian” known as “Thumper.”

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Text 1

Contributor: Lindsey Hughes
Informant: Joseph Turner
Title: “The Fortune Cookie”
Date: First Semester, 2005

“I planned a birthday dinner for my girlfriend at a Chinese Restaurant. I invited her parents to come along as well. Earlier that day, before we met for dinner, I went to the restaurant, and had the owner put a fortune in a fortune cookie which said “Will you marry me?.” I had them make sure that certain cookie went to my girlfriend. We all went to the restaurant later that evening, and had dinner. At the end of the meal, they brought us our fortune cookie, which happens at every Chinese restaurant. My girlfriend opened her fortune cookie, read what it said, and while she read “Will you marry me,” I got down on one knee next to her, and handed her a ring. She was very surprised, because she just thought we were there for her birthday. She cried, then smiled, and said “Yes.”


The location of the proposal, the Chinese restaurant, enabled the informant to propose the way he did. The fact that the parents were invited shows the respect the informant has for his girlfriend’s family.  The invite of the parents could have spoiled the surprise, but the timing of the girlfriend’s birthday, made the parents invite seem normal, and enabled the proposal to be a surprise. The type of proposal shows the creativeness of the person.


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Contributor: Lindsey Hughes
Informant: Stephanie Smith (Pseudonym)
Title of Text: “Proposal”
Date of Text: First Semester, Oct. 31, 2005 (Halloween!!)

Text (Interview)

Interviewer: When did your boyfriend propose to you?

Stephanie: He proposed on Halloween, before we went to our friend’s party.

Interviewer: Where were you at the time of the proposal?

Stephanie: “We were in my apartment getting dressed in our Halloween costumes.”

Interviewer: What were your costumes?

Stephanie:” We went as an evil bride and groom”

Interviewer: Were your costumes a part of the proposal?

Stephanie: “Oh yes, apparently he had been planning his proposal for a while. While we were putting the finishing touches on our costumes, he handed me a ring, and said “Now your costume is complete,” then he got down on one knee as asked my to marry him.”

Interviewer: What did you say?

Stephanie: “Yes, of course. We have been together for four years now. We started dating our senior year in high school, so it was an easy decision for me. I knew if would happen eventually, but his proposal was very creative, that it really surprised me.”

Interviewer: Have you set a date yet?

Stephanie: “Not yet, we are waiting till we finish school.”


The people involved in the proposal are a younger couple.  The proposal was in the women’s own apartment, which shows that she no longer lives with her parents, also showing the age of the informant. The beginning of their relationship, and the number of years they have been together, also show their year in college, and also shows how long it will be till they do marry. The fact that the proposal was done in costumes, shows the type of relationship the two have.

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From Lindsey B's journal

King’s Drinking Game Rules:

Red 2-8: you drinking that number of the card. (ie. Red six, drink six)

Black 2-8: you pass out that number of drinks

9: nine, nine, bust a rhyme. (go around in circle and each person must rhyme the last word of a sentence that is started by the person who drew a nine) If a person cannot rhyme then they must drink

10: social, everyone drinks

Jack: category (person selects a category, say types of beer, and each person must say one until someone messes up in which case that person drinks.

Queen: Make a rule.

King: there is a cup of beer in the middle of all the cards. Each kind drawn means that person can dump as much beer as they want into the cup. The fourth cup drawn results in that person finishing the cup of beer and then the game is over.

Ace: Waterfall (everyone drinks, it starts with the person who selects the cards and you cannot stop drinking until the person next to you stops and so on)

***Kings is a drinking game that is played by many students on campus. The rules vary depending on who you are playing with and where they learned to play.

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Shots from Kelli's beer pong project in F401:





































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Shannon's tailgating tips:


I have found a current list of ten tailgating tips in which all “tailgaters” should follow according to http://www.tailgating.com.


1.         Dress in team colors. Show your team spirit; tailgaters are always the

best fans!

2.         Plan your experience a day or two before the game. This insures that

one can recover after the game.

3.         Make a list of everything you have on you.  You’re going to get totally

trashed and could potentially lose something!

4.         Plan to arrive 3 to 4 hours early as this ritual tends to get crowded

at a very fast rate.

5.         Fly a flag on a very tall pole so that friends and fellows can find


6.         Decorate your site with team memorabilia.

7.         Break out the coolers; it is now time to get drunk before the game.

(No matter what time the game starts.)

8.         Socialize and drink with friends, throw the football around or bong a

beer, which ever meets your needs.

9.         Those who are not in attendance can pull out the grill. Make it a

backyard event with your neighbors.

10.        Lastly, if one desires, they can resort back to the tailgating after

the game, but this almost always be accompanied with a victory.


While experiencing tailgating I have realized that the involvement with this

ritual is mostly consisting of alcoholics who thrive on football at a college

level. There are tailgaters who do not drink at these events but these people

would not be included into the student aspect of this folkloric ritual.

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Sarah's F401 project on Malaysian Muslim fashion and Eid-Murbarak celebration:

Sarah tells us --

"I did independent Folklore research on some of my Muslim co-workers and friends at Indiana University. Nearly all of these college girls were from Malaysia. I initially was solely focusing on their Muslim fashion and attending an American college, but my interviewing and research period also fell on the Islamic holiday of Ramadan (a month of religious fasting), to which I was invited to Eid-Murbarak celebrations (where Muslim friends and family have big dinner parties as an official end to the fasting). During these few parties I was fortunate enough to attend, I researched and joined in on the traditional parties, customs, and fashions of these interesting and intelligent college girls."


Photo #1- I am being shown how to wear a fashionable head scarf, or in Malaysian "tudung". It is first pinned under the chin and then the scarf is pinned to itself and my top. It is actually quite light and comfortable. Headscarves are worn as a personal choice by a Muslim girl, some wear them, some don't. It just depends on how conservative a Muslim they chose to. During Eid Murbarak celebrations, formal or traditional Muslim clothing is worn.

Photo #2 Most Muslim girls have a broach box, decorative pins to fashion head scarves to personal taste.

Photo #3- There are various ways to pin and style a head scarf, this was one of my personal favorites.

Photo #4- Eid Murbarak parties I found consist of two things, Food and Food. It is a very comfortable atmosphere were everyone is talking  and eating lots of traditional food (and thirds are encouraged.) Eating with the fingers is believed to make the food taste better.

Photo #5- There is not one standard for dress. Here is an example of three friends with three different fashion choices. These three girls chose to not wear head scarves, left to right, the style is a Traditional Malaysian dress, a fashionable Chinese dress, and a fashionable Indonesian dress. All are beautiful.

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  Megan's photos of IU Dance Marathon, 2005:

Started at IU by Jill Stewart in 1991 in honor of Ryan White, AIDS victim and activist, and modeled after the Penn State Dance Marathon, this event is the 2nd largest student-run philanthropy in the nation today -- it has raised over $4.1 million in 15 years, going to the Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis and funding the Ryan White Infectious Disease Center there.


It is accomplished entirely by IU students and faculty and involves many folkloric activities, including:


Material culture -- bracelets, bandanas, banners

Games -- jello pong, twister, charades

The line dance with its new moves each year

Patchwork of songs.


And among the Executive Committee, there are numerous rites such as

--Passing the Torch



Here are a few photos from the 2005 IUDM:


1. Raising the total -- keeping track of funds raised in progress.



2. A mass game of twister


3. The ritual of alcohol wills


4. Chapter with bandanas and this year's shirts.


5.  Committee ritual of solidarity



6. Committee with hats


7. Halloween costumes


8. Line dance


9. Line dance review


10. Toasting


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Elle’s drinking games

This is Ellie

Game 1: Beer Pong

Informant: Brandon L.

Genre: The Party Scene

Sub-Genre: Drinking Games

Date Collected: April 7, 2008 

            I not only observed the drinking game of beer pong but I also interviewed one student on specific rules of the game. Beer Pong is an unofficial sport which tends to be popular among college students. I was told that there are variations of rules, usually depending on where the person is from. There is also another form of the game referred to as bay-root, but some say bay-root is an entirely different game altogether. From my interview, this is the standard list of rules I received:

 20 cups, 2 ping pong balls, 4 players, ping pong table

          10 cups, 2 players on each end of the table

          Cups are arranged in a pyramid shape, the base being at the edge of the table (4,3,2,1)

          The game starts off with one ball on each end, players look each other in the eyes and count to 3. On 3 they both throw a ball and the person who makes the cup starts off the game.

          1 turn consists of each player throwing one ball. If the cup is made, the opposite team drinks it.

          2 re-racks (diamond, diamond +1, bozo buckets, 3,2,1 triangle). No re-racks in the middle of a turn.

          Bouncing the ball is allowed, but on a bounce, the opposite team is allowed to swat or grab the ball before it lands in the cup

          If a bounce is made, opposite team must take two cups out of the formation.

          If both players make a cup during the same turn, a ‘send back’ takes place.

          In observing the game from my own perspective, I noticed that it is a relaxed game, but as players get more intoxicated, they become more rowdy. Frequent cheering took place as well as cursing. When all males were playing, the game seemed to be much more competitive, and when females were playing with males, the game seemed to be much more of a flirtatious interaction. 

Context: This interview and observation took place at a house party on April 7th, 2008. I spoke with two male students on the general rules, but received the specific list from just one of them. I observed 2 male games and 2 female/male games. Beer Pong was a game I repeatedly saw at not only house parties, but also frat parties.


Game 2: Flip Cup

 Date Collected: April 10, 2008

            Flip Cup is another non-official game/sport played among college students. This particular game I only observed, but was informed that there is pretty much one standard set of rules. From watching the game, as well as briefly participating, the general set of rules is as follows:

          2 teams consisting of at least 3 players each, line up along two sides of a table

          Each player places a plastic cup full of beer in front of him/herself

          At the start, the two players on the end chug the beer. Once the beer is gone they place the cup on the edge of the table and use one finger to attempt to flip the cup 180 degrees so it lands steady on its opposite end.

          Once the player successfully flips the cup, the next teammate takes a turn and the game continues down the line until the team is finished.

This was a much more fast-paced, relay style game in which a lot of yelling, cheering and swearing took place. The more intoxicated the players became, the longer the relay took.

Context: I observed this game at a fraternity of Indiana University on the night of April 10th, 2008. The game consisted of male and female players.


Game 3: Quarters        

Date Collected: April 12, 2008

            Quarters is a drinking game which actually goes back many years. I observed this game for a few rounds and discovered this unofficial sport/game has a very simple, standard set of rules:

          At least 5 players, 2 shot glasses, 2 quarters, one beer

          Players sit around a table with the beer in the middle

          A shot glass and quarter are placed on opposite sides of the circle to start.

          On the start, each player attempts to bounce the quarter off the table and into the shot glass.

          Once the player lands the quarter into the glass, they pass it on to the next player.

          The object is to pass up the shot glass in front of you. If this is accomplished, the player who is passed up must chug the beer in the middle and game starts over.

          If a player makes the bounce on the first attempt, the shot glass can be passed to any player at the table. Good strategy is to pass it to the player who sits before the player with the second shot glass in an attempt to pass him/her up sooner.

This was a fast paced game in which lots of banging on the table took place, as well as swearing, shouting, and cheering. This game can be difficult even when players are sober, so as they became more intoxicated the game took longer and longer.

Context: The few rounds I observed took place between male and female competitors. The game took place at a house party on April 12th,2008. I tended to find this game at more house parties where the crowd was somewhat smaller and the people were more acquainted with one another.

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Matt’s Little 500 Interviews


This is Matt



Text 1: “Little 500 Interviews”


Collection Location: Day party at Smith and Grant


Date Collected: April 11th, 2008


Informant: Josh Pardue. Age 22. IU senior

Title: Little 500 Interview

Date: April 11th, 2008.


What did you know of Little 500 before coming to IU?


--I just knew it was a big party week and that there was some sort of bike race.


How many days a week do you usually party the week before the race?


--I would say that I party almost five days of the week during Little 500. This year might be more like seven because it is my senior year.


Do you go to the race?

--Nope, never have.


What sort of festivities do you take place in the day of the race?


--This year we have just pretty much been drinking in the front yard, playing beer pong and flippy cup and all that kind of stuff. Last year we played slosh ball at friends’. It is basically drunken waffle ball. There is a keg at second base, a slippy slide from third to home, and a baby pool for the home plate. It might be a little cold for that this year.


Do you skip classes the week of Little 500?


--Every year I always say I am not going to, but I of course do. Usually only about 3 or 4 class though. It is tough to make it to class when all anyone wants to do is party.


Is this your favorite week to be an IU student?


--I would say so. I was hoping there would be a great week of IU basketball that would out-trump Little 500 this year. But that was of course a debauchery.


Do you worry about police during the week?


--I certainly did before I turned 21, but now I love the cops. I do not drink and drive and I’m not an idiot, so the cops and I get along just fine.



TEXT #2: Little 500 Interview


Informant: Alyson. Age 19. IU freshmen.

Date: April 11th, 2008.


What did you know of Little 500 before coming to IU?


--I just knew it was a big party weekend. Both my older sister and brother went to school here so I heard a lot of stories from them. I have been looking forward to it all year.


How many days a week do you usually party the week before the race?


--Well this is my first little five, but so far I have partied Tuesday, Thursday, and now Friday night.


Do you go to the race?


--I don’t think I will go.  I have three more years to make one.


What sort of festivities do you take place in the day of the race?


--Tomorrow I am supposed to be going to a kegs and eggs party.  Basically we go really early, cook breakfast, drink mimosas, and then have a kegger. Should be pretty fun.


Do you skip classes the week of Little 500?


--I skipped a few today and a few yesterday, but that is it.


Do you worry about police during the week?


--Definitely. The party we went to last night the cops came and we hid in a bathroom, but they never actually came inside. I have been told all week to watch my back and be careful, but it has not been too scary yet.


TEXT # 3: Little 500 Interview


 Informant: Jeff Heidelberger. Age 21. IU Junior

Date: April 11th, 2008.


What did you know of Little 500 before coming to IU?


--My brother went here so I came down my senior year of high school the day of the race. It was pretty nuts and got me very excited to come here as a freshmen.


How many days a week do you usually party the week before the race?


--This week I have partied Monday up till today (Friday). Pretty much been doing that all three years I believe. Might have missed a day or two.


Do you go to the race?


--My freshmen year I went to the race. It was pretty cool, but I think going once was enough for me.


What sort of festivities do you take place in the day of the race?


--Pretty much just try and get outside to play beer pong or corn hole. Last year we did a keg race. There were two teams, each assigned to a keg. The first team that finished their keg won. It was fun because everyone was very competitive.


Do you skip classes the week of Little 500?


--Of course, I think I have been to less than half of them this week. Just the ones where stuff was due did I actually go.


Do you worry about police during the week?


--Definitely before I turned 21 I did. We would always have to hide indoors and make sure we kept everything in cups. This year we are toasting the cops as they drive by. Sure is nice to be 21.



            Little 500 is a time to relax, kick back, and not worry about school for a week.  The “greatest college weekend” should actually be known as the “greatest college week”.  This is because partying is not limited to just the day of the race.  Instead, it is a spring break like celebration that can be seen on few colleges across this great land.  From the answers I received from my first question it is obvious that the reputation of Little 500 precedes itself.  Everyone I interviewed had heard stories about the event before they even arrived on campus.  This just adds to the lore of this event for the student body.  Just like basketball games and tail-gaiting, Little 500 is a famous IU event.  I believe the fact that all three students said they skipped class shows what this week is all about for the student body.  It is a time to try and forget about all of our upcoming finals, papers, and projects looming in the distance.  It is a week to get that party bug out of our systems before we have to bunker down for that last push of the semester.  Another interesting aspect to take away from these interviews is all of the mini-events students plan to go to along with the race-day festivities: slosh ball, kegs and eggs, and keg races.  Students love to find creative ways to have fun while drinking.  Just sitting around drinking beer everyday is no fun; we like to make things interesting.  It is not all about watching the race.  None of these students plan on seeing it this year, because a majority of the student body could care less.  While there are worries about the police from underclassmen, it is evident that this week is simply a time to be young, free, and a little stupid.


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Elle’s online party scene

Item 1: Invitations

Facebook is one of the newest crazes among college students. It is a networking website developed originally for college students to make friends or keep in touch with old ones. The website is made up of user profiles and many applications linking each profile to thousands of activities, events, clubs, common interest groups, etc. One way in which this site has become a huge network for the party scene is the development of an online invitation system. Users can create an event, which is usually some type of party, and provide a description of location, time, place, and often theme. Facebook allows the party ‘host’ to send out these notifications on a large scale, often to entire groups of friends within their networks. Usually some type of outrageous picture(s) is(are) included in the invitation to guests a preview of what will be taking place.

Many of these parties are not even in celebration of a specific event, such as a birthday. Theme parties tend to be a trend among college students. Some of these party themes include: football pros and cheerleading hoes, highlighter parties, decades parties, professors and school girls, CEO’s and office hoes, and many more. The one thing I noticed about the majority of the titles of these theme parties is that most of them allude to the fact that females should be dressed provocatively. Most of the pictures tagged with the upcoming event also include pictures of examples of how to dress, including a few pictures of scantily clad girls.

Item 2: Party Pictures

Facebook is not only a major place for students to go to create party invitations, but it is a even bigger place students go to post pictures from outrageous parties they have attended. Thousands of photo albums, consisting of every type of party-going activity you could imagine are posted every day. These albums are a way for friends to share stories with others about their ‘wild’ night out with friends. Many of these pictures are seen as ‘inappropriate’ to be publicly displayed, and as a result Facebook has made it possible for users to limit which people can see which pictures on their profile. Don’t want teachers seeing you in your Halloween ‘naughty nurse’ outfit doing a beer bong? No problem…Facebook has your privacy settings covered.

While all this public sharing of college parties is fun and seemingly harmless, students are realizing more and more the consequences of posting such inappropriate pictures for millions of people to see. Work places are often checking Facebook pages of potential employees before making a final decision on who to hire. School athletic programs and other activities are checking pages weekly to make sure no underage drinking or drug abuse is taking place. Underage drinking has been a huge problem due to the accessibility of online photo albums. Students carelessly display pictures of themselves consuming alcohol all the time. The albums have begun to push the limits more and more of what is socially acceptable for public display. Photos often show students’ ‘other’ side, and reflect a society in which teenage morals seem to sink lower and lower with each decade.

Item 3: Blogs, Pictures, Videos

One website I briefly heard about by word-of-mouth was called College Party House. It was a website specifically dedicated for users to post pictures, videos, articles, and event notices from colleges across the country for others to view. I found the site to be extremely pornographic with its display of many college girls barely clothed in promiscuous activities/poses. Users post many pictures and videos from parties and events held at random house parties. A few pictures I came across fell under the topic of ‘shaming,’ apparently the process of playing a practical joke on a person who has passed out from too much alcohol. Shaming usually consists of friends drawing on the skin of the passed out partier…usually with permanent marker.

While there are pictures like this, much of the rest of the website displays provocative pictures of college girls ‘gone wild’. There are also many topics covering an event known as Beer Olympics. Beer Olympics is an event compiled of numerous beer drinking games and sets of teams that compete against each other for the win. Again, pictures and videos tend to be the most popular way for students to publicly display their care-free attitude towards partying.

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