Dartmouth Climbing Music Folklore
“Bring Sally Up”
May 22, 2019
Sarah Jennewein is a sophomore at Dartmouth College. Sarah grew up in Tampa, Florida with her two brothers and sister before coming to Dartmouth. Sarah only began climbing when she got to Dartmouth. She was a member of a Hike and Climb freshman trip. While she initially found climbing at Dartmouth to be intimidating, after going on a climbing trip with Dartmouth students during a break freshman year, she fell in love. She now climbs and attends mountaineering events regularly. She is a member of the Dartmouth climbing team and has the designation of a leader in the mountaineering club for sport climbing, ice climbing, and top rope climbing. Climbing has made Dartmouth feel like home for Sarah.
- Social Context: This piece of folklore was collected via a video interview with Sarah Jennewein while at Dartmouth College. Sarah learned about this piece of folklore as a freshman on the Dartmouth Climbing Team. The idea of doing push ups to “Bring Sally Up” was not started by the Dartmouth Climbing Team, but the tradition of the Dartmouth Climbing Team routinely performing push ups to the song has become an integral method of training and bonding. The song was brought to the Dartmouth Climbing Team by senior Matt Rube. The tradition is typically performed in the climbing gym at Dartmouth, but members of the team perform it at various locations whenever they are with teammates; for example, the activity has occured at airports traveling to and from climbing activities as well as at crags. Typically only climbers participate. The tradition at Dartmouth began as a method of conditioning during recruitment for the climbing team. The song is still used for conditioning purposes, but it also serves as a fun way to encourage friendly competition. The informant said it has become a great bonding method for the team.
- Cultural Context: Despite common misconceptions, climbing is a social sport. The Dartmouth Climbing Team competes in competitions where each member’s score will contribute to how the team as a whole does. The climbing team trains together and will give feedback while climbing on how best to complete a climb. As such, team bonding and joint training is integral to a successful team. The social nature of the “Bring Sally Up” competition fosters team bonding and a collaborate urge for improvement. Additionally, climbing requires incredible physical strength; quite often, climbers will need to pull themselves up with only their arms without a foothold. Arm strength training, as practiced in the “Bring Sally Up” tradition, is essential for successful climbers.
(While i have recorded the Dartmouth climbing tradition of “Bring Sally Up” as closely as possible to Sarah’s exact words based on notes taken during the interview, this is ultimately my own phrasing of Sarah’s words.)
“Bring Sally Up” refers to a tradition of doing push ups throughout the duration of the song. Each time the song says ”Sally Up”, the teammates push up, and when the song says “Sally Down”, the teammates hold the downwards position of the push up until the song says to go up again. The song is three and a half minutes long, and 31 push ups are performed throughout the song. The tradition was brought to Dartmouth by senior Matt Rube. The song is officially called “Flowers” by Moby. The main lines of the song are “Green Sally up and green Sally down
Lift and squat, gotta tear the ground”, which are repeated multiple times. Occasionally throughout the song other lines such as “Old Miss Lucy’s dead and gone
Left me here to weep and moan” are added, causing the participants to have to hold themselves in the downward push up position until the song again instructs them to rise. Many participants, including my informant, often substitute the word “Green” for “Bring”, thereby interpreting the song as a more direct order for when to do the pushups. It is very difficult to complete all 31 pushups, creating friendly competition over who is able to do so.
Kelly Peterec, Age 20
Hinman Box 3552, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH