Inside The Den
nder the bright lights and hanging championship banners of Pauley Pavilion, you can hear the roar and cheers of students booming throughout the building. Coordinated jeers are chanted during visiting-player introductions and tiny pieces of blue and gold paper fly through the air just as the first Bruin basket of the game is made. This is The Den, also known as the most spirited student section on Earth. These die hard UCLA Athletics fans will give 100% of their energy at all UCLA sporting events to cheer on our student athletes. Being part of The Den is one of the most exciting and memorable experiences of being a student. They help create an electric atmosphere inside our stadiums that energizes our players, intimidates opponents and may be partially responsible for the UCLA Men’s Basketball team’s undefeated home record.
To belong to The Den, current students must first purchase a Den Pass, offered by UCLA Athletics. For the 2022-2023 school year, passes can be purchased for $185, which includes access to all home football and men's basketball games (all other UCLA sports offer free admission for students). Additionally, first-year students are able to purchase a 4's Up Den Pass which gives them access to all football and men's basketball games for all four years at a discounted rate. The pass also includes a Den T-shirt, exclusive ticketing priority to Bowl Games, post-season men’s basketball and the UCLA-USC football game, and of course, the best seats in the house — the UCLA student section. Den Pass holders also have a private entrance at Pauley Pavilion, which sometimes means lining up early to beat the crowds for guaranteed entry at marquee games.
Then the fun begins! The student experience at UCLA sporting events is incredible. These games bring along a set of traditions where students come together to show off their Bruin pride. Different sports offer different Den traditions but are all rooted in the same spirit of fun and support for our Bruin teams.
At home gymnastics meets, students are given a paper that details the routines and information about the meet. UCLA ends with the floor exercise, which gives the gymnasts the chance to interact with the student section during their routines. The paper given out includes instructions on how to copy or interact with the dancers during their routines. No worries if you have two left feet though. These dance moves consist of things such as dabbing or even doing the wave. After the last tumbling pass, the paper is torn up and tossed in the air.
Another gymnastics tradition that has held up over the years is when a gymnast performs a superb routine on any apparatus, fans scream out, “10! 10! 10!” while motioning a ten with their hands towards the judges.
With UCLA’s history as a basketball powerhouse, the games in Pauley Pavilion give students the opportunity to participate in many different traditions before, during and after the game. Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular Den traditions.
During pregame warmups, Den members chant the names of players repeatedly until they get the player’s acknowledgement.
As each starter on the opposing team is introduced, The Den yells out a jeer, “So What?” “Who Cares?” “Big Deal!” “Who’s He?” “Go Home!”
The Dirt and Confetti Toss
The Dirt is a flyer that is placed on every seat before games that has basic information about both teams playing. It also includes embarrassing trash about the other team’s players or school. When the first basket of the game is made by a member of the UCLA team, students rip up the paper into tiny little pieces and throw it in the air like confetti.
Free Throw Ritual
When a UCLA player is about to shoot a free throw, members hold up a finger and stay quiet. Upon making it, they yell, “Whoosh” followed by two claps. Repeat after making the second free throw and follow it with a “Yes!” and a double fist-pump. If the free throw is the result of a continuation basket, they chant, “Three point play” along with the announcer followed by a “Whoop.” If they complete the and-1 free throw, they yell “Whoosh” followed by three claps and a “Yes!”
Opposing Team Free Throws
On a similar note, during the second half of the game, students are provided with long balloons to wave around in the air when the opposing team is shooting free throws. The forms of distraction vary from funny signs to unique costumes to crazy dances.
When an opponent airballs a shot, they immediately chant, “Airball! Airball! Airball!” which continues every time the same player touches the ball until they score their next point.
Opponent Fouls Out
When an opponent commits their fifth foul, they chant out the player’s steps to the bench with, “Left, Right, Left, Right, Staaaaanding, Sit down!” and concludes with “So long, chief!”
Alma Mater and Rover
After every game, win or lose, the UCLA Marching Band plays our Alma Mater, “Hail to the Hills of Westwood.” Most fans will hold up two fingers in a V for victory, or keep them together after a loss. Either way, The Den puts their arms around each other’s shoulders and sways while singing. If the Bruins win, this is then followed by the song “Rover,” which is a parody of the song, “I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover.” This is the pinnacle moment when everyone dances and sings along exuberantly.
These traditions are a part of what makes our time and experience at UCLA so memorable. The Den has been able to keep this going for years, decades, passing on the rituals from one generation to the next, and enjoyed by returning alumni long after they’ve graduated. The next time you come to a UCLA Athletics event, cheer along with these Den traditions and feel your Bruin spirit come alive.