On the Road to Chino

Chinooooooooooooo, I’m coming for you!

This weekend is literally one of my favorite weekends of the year. I am celebrating my 10th consecutive Chino picnic. Where does the time go?

Chino picnic is my all-time favorite Basque American picnic, and Chino people are my all-time favorite Basques. I’m even writing a novel about it. Could you already tell I love Chino?

I am beyond excited for this weekend, but I’m trying to keep my expectations low. Yes, there will be downtime. It will probably be too hot for this San Franciscan to bear. I will probably experience boredom throughout the day tomorrow. But those things are all manageable, since Chino picnic is consistently awesome.

I realize I haven’t really explained yet why Chino’s Labor Day picnic is amazing. So if you’re wondering why I love it so much, here are a few reasons:

  • So many young people come out for Chino picnic! The dancers have been nothing but nice to me over the years, even when I was that random girl from San Francisco who didn’t know anyone. I’ve made a lot of good friends in Chino, merely by showing up to the picnic every year.
  • I usually only get to see my amazing SoCal cousins once a year at Chino picnic.
  • The dance is usually really lively, since Chino has such large dance groups and the picnic attracts many people who love to dance.
  • People bring their American friends for the dance. I always meet new people at Chino picnic, and the new faces keep things fresh and fun.
  • I LOVE CENTRO BASCO. Love their dinner, and I die for their breakfast on Monday morning. I also love when they keep the bar open after the dance. Perfect for afterparties!
  • There’s a skate park across the street from the Chino Fairgrounds. I try to get away from the picnic in quieter moments (after lunch or after the dance performances) to watch the skaters. It’s a cool way to break up the traditional picnic day, and it gives me a minute to recharge before the long day and night ahead.
  • Handball games at the Aphessetche trinquet. Although they’re not hosting games this year and showing Domingo Ibarburu at the fairgrounds instead, the handball games are usually a highlight for me. Aita and I would go together–him for the games, me to sip on a Coke and see who’s around. It’s a chill way to lead into the weekend.

Basically, everyone should go to Chino picnic at least once. It’s amazing.

The parents and I are getting an early start this morning, as Chino, California is about a 7 hour drive from the Bay Area. I won’t post tomorrow or Monday, but look out for the Chino recap on Tuesday.

Also, like and follow the Hella Basque Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts for updates throughout the weekend.

If you’re going to the fairgrounds tomorrow, I’ll be handing out the last of my Hella Basque stickers. Get yours before they’re all gone! If you don’t know me, look out for my Jaime scarf out on the dance floor tomorrow night. Say hi!


Demystifying the Slutty Summer

As a teenager, when summer picnic season would come around, there would be a huge amount of anticipation around every picnic that had a dance. Those were the festivals with the magical combination of drinking, dancing, and darkness that made hooking up a more likely possibility.

As such, there would be a great deal of speculation among my friends–Who would hook up with whom? Who would I hook up with? Who would want to hook up with me?

If you read my last post on this topic, Real Talk: Why I Don’t Usually Hook Up, you know I never actually hooked up with anyone. But every year, the speculation would be there. My friends and I would make our predictions, place our bets. In our group, the daunting, elusive dream of the “slutty summer” hung over our heads.

The slutty summer involves hooking up with someone at each picnic, ideally a different person each time. I’ve heard other teenagers use different names to describe the same goal, but for many Basque American teenagers the slutty summer is a thing. Parents beware.

I’ve never heard of anyone having a true slutty summer. It takes a highly motivated, audacious individual to make it happen. Perhaps also someone with lower standards than most, as the person you want doesn’t always necessarily want you. I imagine a slutty summer means sometimes you have to settle.

So when your kids are awash in their post-picnic depression, keep in the back of your mind that it might be magnified by one of the following: 1) They’re sad to leave their hot picnic love, or 2) They didn’t hook up and really wanted to. I was prone to Type 2 post-picnic depression a lot as a teenager.

While not all young people want a slutty summer or accomplish one, it’s a weird sort of ideal for some young Basque Americans. I think the slutty summer lives in teenage hearts mostly because it’s fun to talk about–fantasies, what might be, other people’s lives.

Imagining the possibilities was always a fun way to pass the time, and the draw of the slutty summer for me was all talk. I didn’t actually want to hook up with a bunch of old Udaleku friends, but the idea was hilarious and I felt a little self-esteem boost talking about my boy in Boise, my boy in Chino, my boy in Elko. To think I had options, whether I actually did or not.

Maybe it’s boredom, maybe it’s hormones, maybe it’s curiosity. Whatever the reason for it, the slutty summer aspiration made my picnic seasons a lot more interesting as a teenager. And it makes me smile to hear the kids still talking about it today.