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How To Speak THON

If you’ve been in the BJC at all this weekend it’s clear to see that THON is a campus-wide tradition that many Staters hold near and dear to their hearts. There are dozens of events held throughout the weekend to help keep the dancers on their feet and the spectators upbeat and positive. But with all of the excitement, there also comes a whole slew of terms and phrases to describe the various events.

For most, the terms used throughout THON might seem like a whole other language.

For most Penn Staters, however, THON lingo is second nature.

As a sort of tribute to THON and all of its wacky ways, we decided to compile a list of some of these words and phrases.

Here’s our version of THON’s urban dictionary.

Committee Member: THON is largely run by a collection of student volunteers who take the time throughout the weekend to ensure that everything goes according to plan. There are more than 10 various committees, from entertainment to hospitality, all dedicated to ensuring THON runs as smoothly as possible.

Captains: Each committee’s sub-committee is led by a captain. Captains are looked to for guidance and counsel by committee members. They’re the first string of upper management THON weekend when things go wrong. Another way to think of them is as “managers,” they oversee a lot of the nitty-gritty when it comes to THON.

Line Dance: Everyone knows what a line dance is, but the THON line dance is in a category all its own. The line dance is a collaboration of current pop hits, current events–both within the Penn State community and nationally–rolled into one several minute long, song-and-dance played about every hour. It’s run by Dancer Relations captains.

Dancer Relations captains to the stage: The equivalent of a war cry during THON. It’s what alerts spectators and dancers alike that a line dance will soon be performed.

The Floor: This is a term people use frequently and without explanation during THON weekend. The floor is just a shorter way of saying the dance floor. It’s where all of the dancers stand for 46 hours. It’s also the site where committee members, pass holders, and Four Diamonds families congregate to cheer the dancers on.

Four Diamonds Families: These are the families affected by pediatric cancer and for whom the money raised during THON benefits. They can often be seen hanging out with their assigned organizations and on the floor.

R&R: R&R is short for rules and regulations. Known for their red shirts, these committee members are in charge of security and floor passes THON weekend. R&R, along with OPP and Dancer Relations, is one of the most popular committees since a lot of students are needed to secure the BJC.

OPP: OPP, or OPPerations, is in charge of cleaning the BJC throughout the weekend. Members wash the floors, clean up spills, and tend to basic grooming issues. You can learn more about OPP and their duties THON weekend here.

Dancer Relations: Members of this committee are dedicated to keeping up dancer morale throughout the weekend. They help dancers stretch, get involved, and just have fun. If you want to learn more about what it takes to be on DR, check this post out.

Dancer Mail: This is a way for friends and family members of dancers to show their support for their dancers THON weekend by compiling gifts, games, and notes for their loved ones to read during THON and to boost morale.

Kids Mail: This is an annual tradition for Four Diamonds children. It’s an opportunity for organizations and clubs to send the families letters. The letters can be silly, sweet, or emotional. It’s simply a way for orgs to show their families how much they matter to them

Pass System: The pass system is the way THON decides who does and who doesn’t have access to the floor. There are two types of passes available for spectators–scheduled and general organization passes. Scheduled passes are held by those who dancers have pre-assigned to meet them on the floor. They’re given a time in advance to be in the BJC and get onto the floor. General organization passes can be held by anyone in an organization. They simply have to check into the digital-line and a text will alert them when a pass opens up for them to get on the floor.

Pass Sweep: All passes, unfortunately, have an expiration time. Pass sweeps are completed by R&R committee members. They move throughout the BJC floor looking for expired passes and escorting those possessing them off the floor.

Slides of Strength: Slides of strength is an event run by OPP throughout THON weekend as a way to get dancers off their feet for a couple of seconds. Matts are laid out on the floor and doused with baby powder. Dancers dive straight into the mats and get a full body rub-down courtesy of OPP and

Incentive Shifts: As previously described, incentive shifts describe events that are held for actively-involved club and organization members as a way to thank them for all of their hard work. If someone is honored with an incentive shift, his or her organization will arrange for him or her to take part in some event–such as slides of strength–so that he or she can spend some time on the floor.

Family Hour: An event held to recognize all of the Four Diamonds families as they take the stage and share a few stories with the audience.

Final Four: This term references to the final four hours of the weekend. They’re by far the most exciting and anticipated hours of THON. Family Hour is included in these final four hours, as well as the reveal of the total amount of money raised for THON.

So there you have it–our version of THON’s urban ditionary. Hopefully this post helped clear some things up for you, or at least served as a nice refresher.

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About the Author

Emma Dieter

Emma is a junior from the ever popular "right-outside" Philly area studying labor employment relations and PR. She's also the Assistant Student Life editor for Onward State. She has been a Penn Stater from cradle and will continue to bleed blue and white, 'til grave. She loves trashy romance novels, watching Netflix, and crying over cute videos of dogs. If you ever want to talk more with her about how great she is, or simply have other inquiries, feel free to email her at [email protected]


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