the woo girls

17 April, 2006

Group blog project! (blogject?) Let us construct a taxonomy of Adams-Morgan nightlife.

First you must split everyone up by race, because despite the neighborhood's vaunted "diversity", when DC comes here to play they come in monochrome groups and go into bars where everyone is the same color as them. (My favorite exception so far? Kokopooli's, the legendary-in-my-own-mind pool hall on 18th and Kalorama, where tables are $10/hour max, and the jukebox is not trying to prove anything, and there is a dartboard and foosball and hookahs and couches, and the pool balls have candy fillings and the bathroom attendants give massages and everybody knows your name…where am I? What's going on? Oh yes. Blogging. Diversity. Kokopoolis: integrated.)

Moving on. So. Taxonomy. After you've split everyone up roughly by race you can look within the groups a little more. Since my bedroom is within earshot of the intersection of Drunk and Crazy, I began this work by sound, and the first group to emerge was the Woo Girls.

Woo girls were so identified about a month or so ago, during my Weekend of Many Eric/ks. They were named by Roscoe, the bouncer at (can you see this coming?) Kokopooli's.

Despite their recent naming by this expert in the field, this researcher had noted woo girls on many previous occasions, dating back to last August when she moved into the area. They are named for their call. Usually takes a few drinks for it to be fully voiced, but once it is, the piercing "WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"s can be heard for blocks.

If you need to spot them before this (that is, before they have arrived at Chloe or Saki, or "slummed it" at Millie and Al's) you need only position yourself on the 18th street side of the SunTrust Bank plaza on 18th and Columbia, and look for the hair-blow-dried-out blondes (they are all blonde) getting out of Virginia cabs in teetering ugly heels, painted-on jeans, and camisole tops. Many display glittery markings, and most (all?) carry small purses so trendy your eyes may hurt if you look directly at them. N.B.: this is their dress year-round, they do not feel the cold. Even on 20deg nights they wear only the camisoles and do not even toss a wrap over their shoulders! And I know you can get glittery wraps! I've seen them on other groups of nightlife.

They do not always take cabs — they can use public transportation, although their ability in this sphere is limited. An example: one Friday night I left the Woodley Park Metro station to find a 98 bus right outside at the stop, ready to leave. Now, this bus exists only to take people back and forth from the Metro down 18th to go along U Street and back again. It costs something ridiculous like a quarter (I don't know because my SmarTrip card takes care of me). Two woo girls who had been in front of me on the escalator conferred a bit about how to get to Adams-Morgan. Oh let's not walk, says one. (The shoes.) So they hailed a cab, and got into it just as I boarded the bus. La la la, across the bridge, up the hill, 30 seconds later here we are. They got out of the cab just as I got off the bus, at the bank plaza. I considered telling them about the $8 they had just wasted, but as I was working out how to do that without laughing, they were already across the street, compelled by the power of Chloe.

Behaviorally, they can be classified as lightweight herd animals. They are never seen alone, and their packs sometimes exhibit a hierarchy and sometimes don't. Lightweight: one of their number has usually overindulged by 11:30. (At that hour, every few steps you can trip over tiny blonde women kneeling in the gutters holding back each others' hair.) Once stomachs are voided and minimal vestibular function is regained, they hail cabs — again, as a group, although occasionally if the original pack is big enough only a smaller subgroup will split off — and hie back to where they came from.

How far do they roam? I have a colleague at NIH who resides near Crazy, as I do, but in Georgetown. He recognized them easily from my description and agreed with Roscoe's nomenclature. We think they may be even thicker on the ground over in his parts, despite the cobblestone sidewalks (which are really hell on the heels, darlin'). Despite being trained biologists we have not done the fieldwork to answer this question, because we are usually laughing too hard at their behavioral patterns as described above, which is not conducive to good data collection. I think they are not yet established on U Street, perhaps due to a lack of appropriate nightclub habitats, but the data here is scant also.

I would like to tell you about their distribution and appearance and behavioral patterns around the Herpes Triangle, which I believe may be where the species originated. (We can test this, because in the area where a speciation event happens, the genetic diversity is the highest. I would consider the presence of honest-to-god brunette woo girls in the H.T. to be evidence in support of my hypothesis.) Yes, I suspect that their probable ancestral range is in downtown DC, but alas, I cannot speak to this point at all, never having spent an evening in them parts. (Kokopooli's is between here and there.)

Do you have any woo girl stories? Are there other classifications of DC nightlife you've noticed? How do they differ in other cities, if at all? They seem to me to be related to Chicago's Trixies, but IIRC Trixies cover up when outdoors in the winter.

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16 Responses to “the woo girls”

  1. Bsivad Says:

    This entry needs pictures!

  2. Momb! Says:

    I have observed this coatless phenomenom here in the even colder zone 6 of New Haven. As I am not an esteemed scientist, these are merely the social observations of an older individual who has raised two offspring who, I am reasonably certain, avoid such silliness. These are casual observations that may be interesting to your research.

    There are regional differences, of course. This is a mini-urban area, much akin to suburbia. Here one is just as likely to find these woo girls traipsing about in flip flops as often as stillettos, regardless of precipitation. My companion and I have observed crowds of these creatures, wrapless, almost shoeless, and conclude that it is simply too too taxing to their brain to have to lug around a wrap to all the clubs, where you then have to find a place to keep it, and then take it with you when you’re all hot and sweaty from dancing when you don’t even need it anymore and don’t remember where it is anyway and it would just be in the way when you spew in the gutter when you leave for the next bar. And anyway, it ruins the whole look, you know?

    And, I’ll have you know, these young women age and turn into office workers who, on days like today when the weather is spring-like (59 degrees, cloudy, 10 MPH winds — think Wrigley night game in April) nevertheless cannot resist wearing their high-heeled sandals on their bare (and overweight and pasty) legs with their white summer skirt and skimpy top. Because, after all, yesterday was Easter, wasn’t it?

  3. liz Says:

    I do believe the Woo Girls are related to the Lincoln Park Trixie. The harsh Midwestern climate does encourage them to cover-up, but only as they age and migrate to the shores of Lake Michigan. During their gestation at Big Ten universities and Notre Dame, the happily jaunt across the quad to the bars in a tank top and jeans in 20 degree weather. As they age, their heartiness decreases, but they grow a thin black leather jacket to compensate.

    Beyond that, however, they seem identical in their quests to drink too much and find husbands.

  4. Bad at Life Says:

    “lightweight herd animals” I love it!

    by the by, I just tagged you.

  5. techne Says:

    with collaborations such as this the taxonomic tree will be complete in no time.

    Bsivad, you are right, unfortunately the same reason underlying the poor data collection is behind the lack of photographs. I’m simply laughing too hard when I see them to take pictures. I think I smell a flickr meetup game idea.

    Momb!, your observations may be casual but it’s very useful! During the day on the metro, many have noted the flip-flop crowd, and you may even remember the soccer team that wore flipflops to the white house last year. Are these daytime flip-floppers Woo Girls come nightfall? A very testable hypothesis and y our preliminary data is promising.

    Liz you made me LOL with the thin black leather jacket. It’s fascinating, the regional adaptations, and it makes me wonder about California woo girls.

    Bad at Life I only just noticed that you tagged me! damn busy days at work. I suck at this sort of on-the-spot thing (just ask I-495 Blues), but I will try. Are you coming to the meetup tomorrow?

  6. furcafe Says:

    Where I come from (the educationally-obsessed, upper-middle class biome called the Wash. DC metro area), we call these woo girls “sorority girls” or, when they reach a certain age, “former sorority girls.” To see them in their native habitat, you must venture to Clarendon in the country called NoVa. A subspecies called “interns” & “staffers” can also be found in the bars on Capitol Hill. Although they do tend to eschew outerwear for the reasons listed by Momb!, a few years ago, they did favor the wearable over-sized scarves known as “ponchos.”

    As to photos, I’m sure I have them, but have no separate Flickr tag. Here’s an example:

  7. techne Says:

    Thanks furcafe, I was familiar with their mates the Frat Boys and intended to describe them as the next taxonomic classification….but they are less distinctive, indeed their sameness may be their chief characteristic.

    Nice capture, the one on the left is classic! Sure you may need a telephoto lens to capture wildlife, but for nightlife the 50mm clearly works, I hypothesize that their drunkenness is what allows one to get so close. (Also some of them are attracted to cameras, as flickr friends wolfheadfilms and noptys have found.)

    The sunglasses at night should be added to the description. The one in the center is interacting with someone of a different race, and her hair is not blowdried, so I’m not sure if she is a woo girl or a hipster with a woo girl friend.

    Where’s birdcage….I think the women in the left background fit her “drunk girl” category.

  8. Momb Says:

    Great shot, furcafe! My goodness, I forgot about the cigarettes! You DC Metro’s are so civilized to call them “sorority girls,” a long, long time ago, I recall them being called something decidedly more unflattering. I am in a unique position now of being able to see them in training…fifth and sixth grade or so. I will have to observe more closely…

  9. Dr. Birdcage Says:

    The Drunk Girl. I will try to give a description of her soon. But I must also note that I believe “staffers” and “interns” are seperate categories. They occassionally woo, but it is not their raison d’etre.

  10. outdoortype Says:

    I realise I’m a bit late to this, but I wanted to add more photographic evidence…

    This photo was taken during a night of “participant observation.” Here are two subjects entering Chloe. The one in the white top was seen earlier that night at Adams Mill. One can imagine that some amount of “woooooooo!” was let loose in the interim period between bar and club.

    Coming & Going


  11. [...] You’ll remember that my apartment overlooks the intersection of Drunk and Crazy, and so it makes sense that the first classification to make itself known to me, the “woo girl,” was one of the noisiest. It also makes sense that this group would have been so easily and aptly named by Adams-Morgan employees and residents, since they are colored brightly to attract attention. Not so our latest type, my friends, not so. Unlike their woo-happy sisters, they are quiet. They are nondescript. And there is no consensus on what to call them. Are they frat boys? Are they Republicans? Are they interns? Staffers? It’s a mystery. [...]


  12. [...] So I’m hit #5 for “woo girls” on Google, partly because of searches like that in the title. (Sorry I couldn’t be of service, dude.) Even when I posted about another Adams-Morgan nightlife classification it all went back to woo girls, both in my post and in the comments. Well, they are sparkly. And louder. So it makes sense. [...]

  13. Mukhtar Says:

    One word: Austin.


  14. [...] coffeeshop matrix Once, this blog broke ground with its characterization of the “Woo Girl.” The post made quite a splash, but as is common in science, following up is harder than it [...]


  15. [...] tell ya, there is a big difference between unceasing recorded sound and the intermittent noise of woo girls and sirens and screechy bus brakes (I call that stuff “the Crazy”). In my [...]


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