If you were not raised in Seattle, you are probably thinking "What on earth is TOLO?" and if you were, you are thinking "Doesn't everyone call it that?"
Tolo is a dance where the girls ask the guys, and it is a regional word in the truest sense. People from here don't know it by any other name, and it draws blanks stares from just about everyone else. The reach of its usage extends only to Western and Central Washington-- apparently not making it to Oregon or B.C. or even to the far East side of the state. But within it's area it is totally pervasive. When I was growing up, absolutely every single school called it that and when I got to college in Indiana I was shocked to find out it wasn't called that everywhere. My Seattle transplant parents had talked about "Sadie Hawkins" but I just assumed that was an outdated term from an older generation.
It turns out "Tolo" is a word from the Pacific Northwest trade language Chinook Jargon. It was used among Native tribes centuries before the arrival of Europeans, and then added French and English words once those groups showed up. Up until the early 20th century the language was still very much in use by people from all parts of Seattle society, with even the wealthy elite bragging about their knowledge of Chinook Jargon as proof that they were "real" Seattleites.
|Some ladies who are taking control|
"Tolo" means "to win" or in some contexts "to take control." At the turn of the 20th century there was a women's organization at the University of Washington called the "Tolo Society" that sometimes organized events and dances. It is thought that that is how the term came into use for a girls-ask-guys dance.
|Not all Tolos are reverent, rule-abiding occasions|
And yes, all the included pictures are of yours truly attending Tolo in high school.