It is 4pm on a febrile Saturday in July and you’re standing in London Fields, thighs akimbo in denim shorties, chugging a T&T (tequila and tonic). No, this is not a campaign for boohoo.com — it’s #hotvaxsummer. And it could be all yours.
Okay, so your version doesn’t have to look entirely like that. Your version might mean snogging everyone who crosses your path; freeing the nipple and ditching your shoes all summer; or spending the hot months flinging yourself into a throng of day festival-goers, emerging otter-slick with other people’s sweat. Whatever you like — it’s more about a vibe. A mood of liberation, abandon and consequence-free fun (remember that?). It is the antidote to the straitjacket of the past 14 months, when the Government could tell you that you couldn’t hug your mate/kiss a stranger/shag your Hinge date (delete as appropriate).
Still lost? It started out as a TikTok thing (obviously). #hotvaxsummer — also known as #shotgirlsummer — is the breakout TikTok trend of 2021, and to a lesser extent on Instagram, where #shotgirlsummer has 2.9k posts and counting. Its genealogy can be traced back to summer 2019, to #hotgirlsummer (oh, simpler times!), coined in a song of the same name by Megan Thee Stallion and Nicki Minaj. In the former’s words, #hotgirlsummer was ‘about being unapologetically YOU, having fun, being confident, living YOUR truth, being the life of the party’.
That’s the general vibe of #shotgirlsummer, but with one crucial, pandemic-themed twist. This updated term was coined at the end of March, when President Joe Biden committed to having 70 per cent of Americans vaccinated (or given their ‘shots’, in US parlance) by the 4th of July. Which meant that suddenly, for fun-starved, thirsty US Gen Zers and millennials, the prospect of a belated roaring Twenties began to look possible. Cue memes, tweets and advice from publications like the Los Angeles Times (‘Vaxxed, waxed and ready to kick off Shot Girl Summer in LA? Here are five expert tips’).
On which note, before we go any further, #shotgirlsummer is absolutely not to be confused with a parallel social media trend about the Pfizer vaccine being the ‘hot vaccine’ — the inoculation that connotes the rich, stylish and well-connected (erm, what?). This myth, which has gained some currency in the shallower areas of the internet, is the very definition of #firstworldproblematic — given that many people in the developing world won’t get the option of either. Some insiders note that the myth has made it to our city, where middle-class mums at west London school gates admit, aghast, that they were ‘only’ offered the AstraZeneca. Seriously, check your privilege.
#hotvaxsummer also isn’t a body type — we’re not talking about #beachbodyready in disguise — and it’s not specific to an age group or gender. In fact, its muses can be found in unusual places. ‘Jack Nicholson is going to have the best hot vax summer of us all,’ declared one astute tweeter last month, whose post promptly went viral and in the process anointed the generous-of-girth, three-times Oscar winner as the accidental mascot of #shotgirlsummer.
Why? Mainly it’s thanks to his notable fondness for spending his grandes vacances on a boat somewhere in the Med, a bevy of bikinied beauties queuing up to apply sun cream to his back before diving in symphony off the boat, he rolling into the water after them like a blubbery seal with a lit fag dangling from its mouth. All very #hotvaxsummer. On which note, Leonardo DiCaprio is another mascot who’ll take to the whole vibe like a duck to water/middle aged man to a yacht full of twenty-something models.
Strictly, it’s an American thing, the silly season expedited by a vaccination programme that hints at the promise of having its youth double-vaxxed by summer. Whereas many Brits in their 20s and 30s probably can’t expect their first dose until early-to-mid summer — which might slightly undermine the sense of glorious abandon. Will we start to see a divide here? Those who are vaxxed and ready to party, and those are not? The #shotgirls versus the #havenotgirls?
Perhaps. Although hopefully relatively low rates of Covid-19 and relaxed restrictions after months of very strict lockdown means that everyone will be liberated to make of the months what we will. Certainly, you can feel a frisson of #hotvaxsummer already: the city is ready to go again. Stand in Soho on a warm May evening and it almost (almost) seems like old times.
Not — of course — that you should feel bad if you’re not ready. In April, a viral piece titled ‘Blob Girl Summer’ coined a term for the alternative tribe of those who are not feeling like throwing themselves into the throng at all — in fact, who aren’t feeling like themselves one bit. The past year has been traumatising, frightening and — yes — unprecedented. It’s not surprising if plenty of people feel anything but ready to party, and instead feel like a sort of neurotic amorphous gelatinous mass… If your version of summer is slower and steadier — then that’s up to you.
But if you want to go full throttle, lose-your-shoes-and-snap-your-Monzo-card-in-half hedonism, spend every night out until dawn making the sort of mistakes you’ve sorely missed? Well, chances are you’ll likely find a merry band of fellow zealots to join the party. And the best bit is, you can (legally) snog every one of them.
Six signs that you’re already feeling pretty #hotvaxsummer
1. You binge-watched Starstruck — and replayed that ‘Return of the Mack’ opener to episode two over and over again.
2. You’re in three WhatsApp groups titled ‘21 Juuuuuuuuuuune’.
3. You redownloaded Hinge.
4. You’ve got your balayage/bikini wax/nails done.
5. You’re WFH in loud trousers (watermelon prints, Pepto-Bismol pink, sequins).
6. Your playlist has switched from Death Cab for Cutie to Dua Lipa.