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Put Your Hands in Your Pockets.

April 6, 2010 \pm\30 3:05 pm

Then, put your pockets in your pants.

These lyrics accompany a dance routine, choreographed and performed by Hooters’ waitstaff throughout China.  The origin of such performance, I speculate, also comes from China. I have been to Hooters in Tampa and Gainsville, Florida but there was no such show.  The stateside Hooters, to me, seem to be family-oriented restaurants, though I am venturing to such venues when I am visiting relatives.  I suspect my family goes to Hooters because

a) we’re a large group; and

b) the wings and beer are cheap, and they have sports on the TV.

When I moved to China last year, my first apartment was in The SoHo Building, ten flights above Hooters ChengDu, where most of the customers were businessmen and singles.  The US Marine Corps and a few guys protecting the American Consulate also frequented, I suspect mostly for the pool table and strong Long Islands.  My roommate, a professor of conservation biology at Sichuan University and a Floridian, insisted my China experience include Hooters ChengDu. In this location, I made lasting friendships with people whose hometowns were as far as Frankfurt.  Nearer, Shanghai, and even closer to home: Chengdu, between the second and third ring roads.

I think about China a lot.  Sometimes odd clips of Chinglish enter my stream-of-consciousness, and I validate them as awesome gestures of spoken English.

The Hands in Your Pockets dance (please disregard the obnoxious Foreigner’s Voice at 0:14) says:

Put your hands in your pockets, put your pockets in your pants, all the little fishies do the ooky ooky dance.

Initially, what appears great about this sentence is that the final clause makes the most sense, despite the heavy use of what appears to be a fake language.  In fact, each clause is grammatically correct.  It seems two logical declaratives sandwich a statement that is impossible for the moment.  One cannot put her pockets in her pants unless one is a tailor.  Or a performative sculptor.  I’ve begun to think that this middle-clause is a spoken mime-gesture.  Like the mime, it creates an enclosure from which to escape; these girls create detachable pockets.

Now, let’s insert this mime-gesture into the cultural context of Hooters via the song lyric.  If the fishy doing an ‘ooky-ooky’ dance is in one’s pants, and one inserts a glove-like pocket into ones pants, I wonder if this statement is an elongated idiom for putting on a condom.

I wondered if ‘ooky-ooky,’ unbeknownst to me, was a real word.  The following graf details my findings in support of my Condom Thesis; however, I am open to other definitions of this word, and other interpretations of this lyric.

The Urban Dictionary Definition suggests that the etymology of Ooky-Ooky comes from a 1960s style of children’s ride-on toy, and now simply is a speech act relating one’s heightened emotions to surrounding parties.  Without overstating lyric-per-line, all roads lead to the fish’s ooky-ooky dance as new idiom for an excited male figure, as spoken and mimed from the Chinese Hooter girl in performance-mode.  This is an ambiguous message creating a tension between a company’s brand and an audacious act of flirting, likely resulting in the purchase of Long Islands deep into the night, under the glow of Chinese sparkling lights.

  1. April 6, 2010 \pm\30 3:52 pm 3:52 pm

    Jen, do you have a picture to go along with this? Please say yes. Also: I am coming to NY tonight!

  2. April 6, 2010 \pm\30 3:59 pm 3:59 pm


    If the fishy doing an ‘ooky-ooky’ dance is in one’s pants, and one inserts a glove-like pocket into ones pants, I wonder if this statement is an elongated idiom for putting on a condom.

    Is perhaps one of the most sublime sentences I have ever read.

  3. Darcy permalink
    April 6, 2010 \pm\30 8:38 pm 8:38 pm

    And here I was thinking, “this is ridiculous! How do little fishies do the ‘ooky ooky’ dance without having feet or legs?!”

  4. Liv Zilberstein permalink
    April 25, 2010 \pm\30 11:19 pm 11:19 pm

    I can really see this in our torrid Dr. Seuss Series.

    One Fish, Two Fish Red Fish Blue fish.
    All the little fishies do the Ooky Ooky dance.

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