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dipping

noun [uncountable] British

an activity in which a group of people locate a private swimming pool and arrange to swim there without permission when the owner is absent

dipper

noun [countable] British

dip

noun [countable] British

'Police said illegal pool parties in Bournemouth and Devon, UK, were arranged using online mapping services and social networks … The trend, known as dipping, has become popular during the UK summer.'

NEWS.com.au 20th June 2008

'Teenagers are locating houses with swimming pools and arranging illegal parties known as dips. … The Devon and Cornwall area of England has been particularly badly impacted by dippers, with the local police force advising swimming pool owners to be on guard.'

iTwire, Australia 23rd June 2008

Ever fancied a pool party but don't have a pool? In the summer of 2008, all you need to do is go online and locate your nearest opportunity to do a spot of dipping.

participants, known as dippers, often attend the event wearing fancy dress, and are encouraged to 'bring a bike' in order to facilitate a hasty escape

The recently-identified craze known as dipping involves using Internet-based satellite images, such as those provided by Google Earth, to locate homes with outdoor swimming pools.

Once an appropriate 'venue' (cool-looking outdoor pool) is found, participants use social networking sites like Facebook and Bebo to spread the news about an impromptu swim or pool party, sometimes referred to as a dip. Participants, known as dippers, often attend the event wearing fancy dress, and are encouraged to 'bring a bike' in order to facilitate a hasty escape.

Amazing as it may seem, especially given the UK's notoriously poor summers and the fact that, in comparison to parts of the US or Australia for example, relatively few homes have private pools, dipping is a British invention. Predictably, the craze has proven particularly popular in 'warmer' parts of the UK, such as Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. Police in these areas report incidents of pool owners returning from work to find their pools full of beer cans, or waking up to the sound of young people using their pools. A recent dipping event near Bournemouth boasted 16 attendees between midnight and 3am, though in fact as many as 500 'invitations' had been sent out via Facebook.

If you're lucky enough to own a swimming pool, then the UK police advise you to be particularly vigilant as the dipping craze gains momentum. If you fancy doing a bit of dipping, then bear in mind that, technically, this counts as trespassing, so you would be committing a criminal offence.

Background – dipping

Dipping is new in 2008, a specific sense which develops an established use of the verb/noun dip when it means 'swim', as in for instance have a quick dip (have a quick swim) or skinny-dipping (swimming whilst naked).

The concepts underlying dipping (i.e. using the Internet to identify a location and advertise an impromptu gathering) are similar to those of the flash mob (2003), where a large group of people hear about an event online, gather at a specific place to do a particular thing, and then quickly disperse.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 17th July 2008.

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