The Party Dot Tattoo Has Various Meanings — Know What You're Getting Into

Alex West - Author

Jan. 29 2024, Published 8:33 a.m. ET

A vertical party dot tattoo on someone's arm
Source: Instagram/@rouktattoo

Before getting a party dot tattooed on you, beware of what it might mean. The party dot tattoo has a long-standing history for socialites but also can have some accidental implications.

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Some dots have ties to different gangs which, if you aren't affiliated with them, could get you into some trouble. Also, different arrangements of dots can communicate different things. Keep reading for all of the details.

A woman's hand covered in dots and design tattoos
Source: Instagram/@dusto_ftw
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What does a party dot tattoo mean?

For a super vague description, the depths of the internet offer a 2006 definition from Urban Dictionary that explains: "If you're a 'good partier' you can earn up to three 'dots' in the skin between your index finger and thumb. These 'dots' are basically a tattoo but just a dot. The more dots you have the better partier you are."

Unfortunately, that introduction doesn't give the full story or context. For those immersed in the tattoo community, they know that the meaning ranges from "prison time served to a statement of faith or commemoration of endless nights of binge drinking," according to Removery, a tattoo removal service.

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For starters, each dot can reflect a different word to form the phrase, "Mi Vida Loca" or "my crazy life." Those words have different meanings for everyone with some using the words to signify overcoming past difficulties.

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Others believe those words are merely an indication of living a more care-free lifestyle. "This traditional translation is closely linked to gang tattoo art. It is designed in a triangular pattern and placed on the face, usually by the corner of the eye," adds the service.

The orientation of the dots can change the meaning, too. If the party dots are vertical, they represent life, death, and reincarnation. However, if they're horizontal, they're more representative of past, present, and future.

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Gang members and those with a difficult past aren't the only ones with a claim on the style. Christians are known to get simple dot tattoos, too. After all, there are trinities in many aspects of life. In this case, Christians use them to represent the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost.

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The tattoo can sometimes look like an ellipsis, a type of punctuation that tends to mean trailing off in a thought. An ellipsis typically connects one sentence to another, but not always in a perfectly direct way and it doesn't signify a hard stop in the way a period would.

Similarly to a semicolon tattoo, the ellipsis can represent a life yet to be lived. The semicolon tattoo typically represents a life that could have ended, but didn't, referencing a complicated past with suicidal ideation.

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Before getting dot tattoos, it's important for individuals to better understand all of the nuances involved considering that the tattoo may stay on their skin forever.

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While party dots typically come in a set of three, over-extending that number could have a completely different meaning. Five dots typically represents a stint in prison.

In prison culture, these dots are seen as being earned rather than just easily given. Typically, they'll be tattooed on the face or the hand. Whatever you decide for a tattoo, just make sure you know the meaning before committing to the ink.

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