4 Dec

VIDEO: Raving

MP3: Raving Audio Bloopers

I Try It So You Don’t Have To: Raving

Enter the Rave Scene.

Dirty, filthy. It sounds like an insult, but to anyone who knows EDM, it’s the highest of compliments. And this crowd knows EDM.

Limbs move like windmills to fidget glitches, hips in techno trances, the house music pulses through their fingertips.

A young woman, probably around 20 years old, dressed (and I use the term “dressed” loosely) in spandex booty shorts with fishnets underneath sees my camera. She turns around, bounces her butt-cheeks in time with the song’s beats. “I’m a grimy girl! Dirty girls like dirty beats, baby,” she shouts over her shoulder. She pivots back around to reveal a bare torso, nipples covered by neon green pasties.

“You want to know what raving’s about? Raving’s about not giving a flying fuck.”

The bass drops.

“You want to know if I’m high?” he repeats back to me. His eyes are wide, his hands shaky. He’s getting himself a glass of water. Yes, it’s a culture in which drug use is perpetuated.

“Yeah, I’m high. I’m rolling balls.”

He clenches his jaw until even his temples vibrate like the bass he seems to worship as his god.

A girl, dressed in a tutu and fuzzy boot, says, “I’m sober. I’ve got a final tomorrow, dude. You don’t need to be on drugs to have fun at this sort of thing. This is fun enough,” she continues.

“There are fraternities and engineers and normal people here, people who just like the music, you know?”

She takes two steps away from me and starts dancing like a madwoman. I can just imagine the calories she’s burning, the workout she’s getting.

Raving used to be looked at as a taboo underground movement, reserved for freaks, geeks, and druggies. Now, the music is leaving the underground, and the parties are becoming more and more popular, prompting a fit ‘n flirty, hot ‘n healthy girl to ask, “Is raving dangerous? Is raving safe? Could raving even be… good?”

An explanation.

My blog is about “general health matters relevant to a female, college- aged crowd.” So, in the past, I’ve covered partying safe and partying healthy. However, one of the fastest-growing but least-discussed subcultures of the party scene is the E.D.M movement.

In the interest of full-disclosure:

This is not something I Tried So You Didn’t Have To. This isn’t my first foray into the rave scene. I used to work for a now defunct company similar to Collective Effort Events or Into the AM. (The video above features interviews with promoters from both of these EDM-focused companies.) I enjoy dancing all night to thumping electro bass. But, as much as I recognize the fun and healthy aspects of the rave culture, the workout, the community closeness, the activity. I do acknowledge the downsides. Some say that loud music damages eardrums, drugs circulate, women are objectified.

Honestly, though…

This post is neither a condemnation nor a celebration of the rave culture. It’s not meant to criticize or glamorize.


Moral of the Story?

Drug use? Objectification of women? Nay. Dancing all night in an accepting community? Yay.

I Try It So You Don’t Have To: Bishop Peak

22 Nov

– Difficulty: Moderate
– Elevation: 1,559 feet
– Distance: about 4 miles round trip
– Estimated Time: 2 hours

– Range: Santa Lucia Range
– Type: Volcanic Plug
– Volcanic Chain: Nine Sisters/the Morros

– Good: Free way to exercise. Bond with friends. Scenic views of SLO.
– Bad: Slippery. Crowded at times.
– Ugly: Switchbacks. Poison oak. 

Bishop’s, Cal Poly lingo for Bishop Peak, is a must-hike, a SLO staple typically accomplished during Week of Welcome or, at the very least, within the first year.


I am a second-year at Cal Poly and – until three days ago – I had not hiked Bishop Peak.

I am aware that Bishop Peak is on any and all SLO bucket lists.

You should be aware that a six year-old boy with his family, an ancient dog and his owner, and an elderly couple all out-hiked me on the way up.

The way back down? Imagine a frozen turkey rolling down a cliff. I was, ahem, all of the topple with none of the gobble.

But, was the embarrassment worth it? Entirely.

We came:

Bishop Peak is located at the base of Highland Drive. If you’re coming from the Cal Poly campus, just drive straight down Highland until you see the trail entrance. Street parking is available, convenient, and easy.

I began the hike and saw the lovely animal spine pictured below. Looking back, I could have considered it a foreboding sign, but I just thought it was pretty damn cool.

We climbed:

The climb up is the majority of the hike. It took my group around 45 minutes. Of course, timing is really relative. We saw an older couple with walking sticks trekking along slowly but also were passed by a group of shirtless guys sprinting up the mountainside. The trail wasn’t crowded, but my friends and I did take a couple breathers and photo breaks. (Speaking of photo opps, bring your camera. The sights are gorgeous.)

Once we reached the top of the main peak, there was some easy bouldering to get to prime picture-taking elevation.

We conquered: 

Mission accomplished.

That’s me! I did it!

Nina Foster, history sophomore, says the best time to climb Bishop Peak is when it’s not crowded. “Then I feel like I am less rushed to reach the top,” she said. She recommends bringing water and a camera. “It is a workout so the water is needed, and you REALLY need a camera to capture the beauty of the whole hike,” she said.

“It is a must for every Cal Poly student.”
– Nina Foster, history sophomore

Lauren Barriscale, a sociology sophomore, hiked Bishop Peak for the first time. She said, “I definitely plan on hiking it a lot more now that I’ve seen how rewarding the view is at the top! It can be run or walked which I liked.”

– “There is an opportunity for a little rock climbing at the top which was very fun.”
– Lauren Barriscale, sociology sophomore

Doug Guastaferro, a software engineering sophomore, repels off of Bishop Peak often. He hikes to the top with around 40 pounds of climbing gear and then sets up the anchor and repels off the side of the peak. “It’s a great place to escape to on weekends,” he said.

“Even though the repel off of Bishop Peak lasts only like 10 seconds, it’s one of the biggest thrills I’ve ever had.”
– Doug Guastaferro, software engineering sophomore

Moral of the story?

Make like Nike, and JUST DO IT!

AUDIO SLIDESHOW: Eating on Campus

10 Nov

I Try It So You Don’t Have To: Striptease Edition

1 Nov

It’s Time To Get Your Blood Pumping…

So take off some clothes, pick out some pumps, and turn on the TV.

Not the workout prep you were expecting? That’s because Can’t Spell Flirt is going XXX.

All in all, we’ve been doing pretty well on the f-i-t of f-l-i-r-t. But, the L & R (read: T & A) need some work.

Ring the bell. It’s time for I Try It So You Don’t Have To: Strip to Slim

I chose the Pussycat Dolls video because:

  1. The Dolls are smoking hot. If it’s good enough for these ferocious felines, it’s got to be just fine for me.
  2. Girls with the gall to taunt, “Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?” are my type of ladies.
  3. I really wanted to make puns about pressing the play “button” to get the “purr-fect” workout.
  4. And, in the name of full disclosure, Carmen Electra’s tape was less accessible on YouTube.

Step 1: Get in the mood.

Before you begin to take it off, you need to put it on:

  • DVD or YouTube video
  • Heels (Please don’t hate me for this one.)
  • Boa (a men’s tie or scarf will work too)
  • Sexy smile

Step 2: Workout foreplay. 

The first portion of the DVD is light stretching and basic moves that show up again later.

I double doll dare you not to smile during the warm-up. Try to keep a straight face as Robin instructs, “Don’t forget to slap! We love slapping our booties.”

Step 3: Warm it up.

The first routine… This is not your mom’s Zumba class.

Yes, the squats burn, but the choreography is broken down into super short segments, perfect for a naughty novice.

I’m wearing blue pumps with running socks. There is no way anyone can feel sexy in blue pumps with socks. I don’t want blisters, hence the socks, but a true Doll in Training wears heels.

Step 4: Work it out. 

Bring on the burlesque.

The second part of the boa routine becomes a slutty game of Bop It. I’m just waiting for “bite it, slap it” to progress into “pull it, twist it, bop it.”

Know what’s NOT sexy? Tripping over a long piece of furry, fuzzy material! 

Step 5: Sweat and pant.

The last routine is the most challenging but by far the most useful. I could totally see myself busting this out in the club.

You typically work out in tennis shoes and not high heels for a reason.
That reason? Heels are Satan’s shoes.
This could take some serious getting used to…

The Poly Perspective:

Lily Perry, a political science senior, practices pole-dancing at Yoga Flirt and now knows how to go upside down and do hands-free moves on the pole. “Yoga Flirt is amazing! It’s one of the most inspiring and confidence building things I’ve actually ever done,” she said, “I look forward to it every week.”

“After I was struggling to redefine myself after health issues and an ugly break up, Yoga Flirt taught me how to be comfortable with myself, sexy and fit.”
– Lily Perry, political science senior

Haley McCown, a wine and viticulture senior also trains at Yoga Flirt. She says it helps build her confidence. “It’s a very safe environment so you don’t feel self-conscious,” she said, “It’s really fun, and it’s definitely a very flirty thing. You feel sexy.”

“Pole dancing definitely pushed the boundaries of my comfort zone. Or, well, really just punched my comfort zone in the face. But it was completely worth it!”
– Haley McCown, wine and viticulture senior 

Michelle Stillner, a communications sophomore, has never tried  a striptease workout. But, she said, “I think there’s a lot of strength and stretches involved so that if someone were to get bored with a regular workout routine, it could be something fun.”

“It could be something fun that would also make a woman who’s maybe not feeling so good about herself gain some confidence and feel sexy. I think everyone has that right.”
– Michelle Stillner, communications sophomore

Moral of the Story:

When I tried vegetarianism, I said going veggie was yay but tofu was nay.

In this case, stripping to slim? Yay! A fun, enjoyable workout. I broke out in a sweat (a sexy glow, if you will). But a routine in heels? Nay! 

MAP: Walk Here, Walk Away

31 Oct

Eight places to walk to – and walk away from – when in or around SLO.

PLAYLIST: Songs for Sweating

31 Oct

Click to listen to a mix of songs I put together for you to workout to.

Top 5 Stupidest Drinking Tips Overheard at a Party

26 Oct


  • Top 5 Stupidest Drinking Tips Overheard at a Party
  • “Clearer” alcohols are better than darker ones
  • Hard liquor has the least calories, but it’s more important what you mix or chase with
  • When you’re inebriated, you may think you’re warm when you’re really cold
  • Coffee and a cold shower will do nothing to sober you up
  • Saving calories to drink them later is becoming an unhealthy eating disorder
  • Cal Poly students reveal the stupidest drinking tips they’ve ever heard

I was taught in preschool that there is no such thing as a stupid question. I’ve since learned in college that there is such a thing as stupid advice. Need proof? This weekend, I went party hopping (for research purposes only, of course), and I overheard a lot of stupid advice. All of these are direct quotes from, I’m sure, well-intentioned and, I’m positive, slightly inebriated students.

Presenting the Top 5 Stupidest Drinking Tips Overheard at a Party…

Stupid Tip #5:

“It’s vodka, so you can’t get a hangover.”

Actually, this one is based on a truth. Studies have shown that dark alcohol produces worse hangovers than clear alcohol because of the congeners. In the battle of good versus evil, vodka, is considered a better, “clearer” alcohol than, say, bourbon.

But to suggest that it’s impossible to get a hangover from vodka is barroom blasphemy. The severity of a hangover is related to the amount you drink, how quickly you drink it, the blood alcohol level you reach, and dehydration.

Ask anyone who has spent one too many hours feeling Absolut-ly awful the morning after, and they’ll tell you: You can most definitely get a hangover from vodka.

Stupid Tip #4:

“Tequila has the least calories. Drink this margarita.”

Sure, a shot of hard liquor is going to get you the most bang for your buck, the fewest calories for the amount of alcohol. However, a jigger of hard alcohol – regardless of whether it’s tequila, vodka, or rum – will be around 100 calories. If you’re looking to “get drunk not fat,” this site shows the calorie to alcohol ratio of different beverages.

More important than the type of hard alcohol is what it’s mixed or chased with. If you chase a shot by gulping down a cup of soda or glass of sugary juice, you’re looking at an extra 100 calories… at least. In this case, a margarita, typically made with sugary triple sec and sour mix, will average around 300 calories per serving.

Keep in mind that a serving is one. Remember the last time you went loco with some margaritas at a fiesta? Sure. Remember the last time you had just one margarita? Never.

On the other hand, a 12 oz. light beer is around 100 calories. (To be specific, frat favorite Keystone Light is 104.)

Still, the best way to watch your midsection is moderation. Limit your alcohol intake, and be aware of your mixers and chasers. Hard alcohol mixed with diet tonic water or no-cal soda are your best bets. If you can hang, taking a shot straight up (like a champ) will have the fewest calories.

Still worried about a beer belly?

Guess what has zero calories, health benefits, and will leave you hangover-free? Water.

Stupid Tip #3:

“Drink more before you walk back to campus so you get a liquid layer and aren’t cold.”

You know how alcohol made you THINK that guy across the room looked like James Franco? It also makes you THINK you’re warmer.

The reason you get that warm, red tint in the face is because alcohol causes your blood vessels to dilate, bringing them closer to the surface of the skin, actually making your body get colder, faster.

Also, getting extra inebriated before walking by the police and returning to RAs is an obvious no-no. Sean McMinn, a journalism sophomore and Yosemite  resident advisor, said, “It’s pretty obvious when a resident comes back to the res hall drunk. I’d rather make sure that they’re safe than get them in trouble, so I always make sure they get to bed okay.” 

Know where else you’ll be warm? In the drunk tank.

Stupid Tip #2:

“Just drink a hot cup of coffee and take a shower, and you’ll sober up.”

Contrary to popular belief, caffeine is not magic.

Give a buzzed person a cup of Joe and a cold shower, and all you’ll have is a shivering wet, wide-awake drunk.

You sober up when your blood alcohol content lowers. Shockingly, caffeine and cold water can’t miraculously lower your BAC.

Let’s do the math. Folklore suggests that alcohol (a depressant) and coffee (a stimulant) will cancel each other out. If this equation makes sense, then recreationally snorting some cocaine (an upper) and injecting a heavy dosage of heroin (a downer) would result in sunshine and unicorns. In actuality, it will probably lead to the morgue. To review… tipsy + coffee = still tipsy. Tipsy + shower = still tipsy. Tipsy + time = sober.

Stupid Tip #1:

“Save up your calories and then drink them later. It will make you skinny.”

No. It will make you puke.

It’s called drunkorexia, but I prefer the term stupidity.

The Poly Perspective: 

Jake Fuller, a second year business major, woke up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning around this time last year.

“It was Halloween weekend, and I went to a house to pregame. I had about seven or eight shots in an hour and, as I was walking out of the front door, it began to rain, and that was the last thing I remember. Then I woke up in a hospital.”
– Jake Fuller, business sophomore

Fuller’s friends did the right thing by taking him to the hospital for alcohol poisoning. If a friend is in trouble, the hospital is a safe zone. Don’t delay seeking medical attention. Any student who helps a friend seek treatment for alcohol poisoning will not get in trouble.

“My friend ended up in the emergency room one weekend because he got punched in the face, then the drunk tank because he passed out in the middle of the street, and then back in the hospital for alcohol poisoning,” Leah Yukelson, a second year business major, said.

 “If you make a mistake, change your habits, learn your lesson, and SLO down.”
– Leah Yukelson, business sophomore

What’s the stupidest drinking tip you’ve ever heard?

“The biggest myth about drinking is that beer is less intoxicating than other types of alcoholic beverages.”
– Alex Block, construction management sophomore

“Beer before liquor, or however it goes…. I’ve never seen it be fulfilled. It depends on how much you drink, not the order or type of alcohol.”
– Bryan Breverman, business junior

“Drinking alcohol to cure a hangover. Or, liquor before beer and you’re in the clear… You’re never really in the clear with alcohol.”
– Megan Grossman, nutrition junior

Slideshow: Traditonally Taboo Tattoos

25 Oct

The terrible t: tattoo parlors. Get ready for the good, the bad, and the ugly of this traditionally taboo industry. Photographs were taken at Traditional Tattoo.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Scroll through the slideshow at your own pace by using the left and right arrows. Click the small speech bubble in the lower lefthand corner of slideshow to hide captions and see full images.

Video: How do you party safe in SLO?

11 Oct

In light of recent events at Cal Poly, I asked 10 Cal Poly women, “How do you party safe in San Luis Obispo?”


6 Oct


  • A look into “thinspiration,” an unhealthy online trend where users support each other’s body image disorders
  • Erin Elfant-Rea, an eating disorder specialist, details the effects of thinspiration on the SLO community
  •  Sickening examples of thinspiration


Or, rather “thinspiration” (thinspo, for short) – a hybrid of the words “thin” and “inspiration.”

Thinspiration is a Web phenomenon, spanning across YouTube, Flickr, and particularly Tumblr.

It’s the social medium for sick obsession. Obsession with hipbones, collarbones, backbones. Obsession with thigh gaps and rib cages. Obsession with emaciation.

The thinspo community shares:

  • quotes
  • photos
  • tips
  • confessions
  • “reverse thinspiration” (pictures of overweight individuals to disgust readers into starving submission)

Thinspo is a large and growing online community with its own set of standards (like anonymity) and vocabulary (like “pro-ana” and “pro-mia”). 

Their main motto? In the words of Kate Moss, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”

The thinspo phenomenon is a two-sided coin. On one side: an online support group for those suffering from body image disorders. On the other? A marketplace for unhealthy images and unhealthier advice.

The thinspo microgenre of the Web is a hodgepodge of contributions by bloggers with names like barbiethin, skeleton.dreams, waste-of-skin, thin-is-the-new-black, foreverpurging, and tobeaghost. 

Turns out… low self-esteem spreads through social media like wildfire. Who would have thought?

“Some of the videos, while designed to ‘inspire,’ warn viewers that they might ‘trigger.’ What’s the difference, I wonder?”
– Virgina Heffernan, The New York Times

The Poly Perspective:

Erin Elfant-Rea, Ph.D, is an eating disorder specialist based in San Luis Obispo. Elfant-Rea has seen firsthand the effect of the thinspo phenomenon. She’s treated college students, including Cal Poly students, who visit these websites.

“It starts off with something like ‘thinspiration’ and now it’s a disease that’s killing them,” she said. “Everybody thinks it’ll never happen to them, but do you know how many people I see a day?”

“The goal of the websites is exactly the same as the goal of the eating disorder: to ultimately destroy the person.”
– Erin Elfant-Rea, Ph.D, eating disorder specialist

Anorexia, Elfant-Rea said, is the most lethal of all mental illnesses – beyond even drug abuse and depression. Thinspo adds fuel to the fire of this “very competitive illness.” She continued, “These are people who are competing to see who can starve themselves the best.”

Pro-anorexia websites have been around for a long time, Elfant-Rea said. But as the Internet has evolved, so too have the sites.

“Really, there’s nothing new about pro-ana tips. There is this cultural push, this mentality, that of all the mental illnesses, anorexia is the one that it’s good to have a little of. And on these websites, they’re treating this eating disorder like it’s a way of dieting and neglecting that it’s a disease that’s developed — a disease, a disease, a real, life-threatening disease.” 

Sara Reiserer, a second-year Liberal Studies major and dancer of over fifteen years, has seen at least 10 of her close friends fall victim to eating disorders.

“They didn’t even have to look online. My friends learned it from TV. Those prevention specials made them say, ‘Wow, that girl lost so much weight in her thighs. And my extension would be so much better if I had legs that skinny.’ Or they learned it from somebody else who did it. Now, I think if they knew about these sites, it would be even worse.”
– Sara Reiserer, Liberal Studies major

Kat Merchant, a second-year Agriculture Business major, had never heard of the thinspiration fad before I showed her a randomly chosen thinspo blog.

Her reaction?

“The website is really scary. It’s even worse that it has pictures of models with phrases on top saying, ‘You’ll get there.'”
– Kat Merchant, Ag Business major
Slideshow of Real Thinspiration Images:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Note: The disturbing images in the slideshow and posted throughout are from actual, real-life thinspo blogs.

Moral of the Story?

This isn’t HEALTHY.

“Wouldn’t it be crazy for a website for people with cancer to teach them how to progress their tumor faster so they could die quicker? These are websites for people with a disease to learn how to further their disease faster.”
– Elfant-Rea