Let me get this out of the way: I love both going to the club (dancing and music are great!) and dudes (they're so cute!). But dudes absolutely ruin the club. There's a reason ladies often get in for free or cheap: Both dudes and non-dudes are happier when the dude ratio is lower. Just a small sampling of things that have happened to me in the club: A dude put my hand on his boner and said, "You did this." A dude threw his drink on me when I ignored him. A dude I was actually dancing with whispered, "Are you on birth control?" A dude started waving (a laughably paltry amount of) money in my face when I said I wasn't interested. And I've lost count of how many dudes have grabbed various parts of my body without anything remotely close to my say-so.
You will notice a commonality here in the doers of these actions. Sure, those are extremely insane things that you would (I hope) never do, but there's a million other smaller ways dudes make the club stressful and shitty, mostly by hitting on girls when we really, really are just there to dance. But I know: The girls are so hot, and there's so many of them, and they look so good while they're dancing, and you want to do it with them! Well, if you insist on bugging us, here's some rules you can follow to keep things chill and fun for everybody.
Have another reason to be there. The club is for dancing and having a good time with your friends. And yeah, sure, people of all genders go there in the hopes of hooking up. But if that's the only reason you're there, you're leeching off of the good energy the fun-havers are putting out there and bumming everybody out.
Don't lurk. A lot of dudes will just loom near girls who are dancing, seemingly in hopes of eventually touching or talking to us. Stop that, dude: You're killing our vibe. Even putting aside the truly important consideration of our vibe, it is totally antithetical to your goal of seeming attractive and cool. No girl has ever been like, "Ooh, see that guy lurking over there? Yeah, girl, the lurk-y one. Wish he'd lurk around in my bedroom, if you catch my drift."
Wait for her signal. This is some "best practices" shit that I know you're not gonna follow, but if she thinks you're cute, she'll make eye contact and maybe smile a little. "But," you protest, "if I only hit on girls who clearly want me to, then I'll never get to hit on any girls." Hmmm. Maybe let that one marinate for a few.
Approach from the front. I hope this seems insane to you, dear reader, but there are dudes in the club who will sort of dance behind girls, inching closer and closer in a hopeful manner until they are "dancing with" you. I don't quite get what the thought process behind this maneuver is, if they think it's like a frog in boiling water, and we won't notice it happening since it's so gradual, and then once they're dancing with us, we'll just have to be like, "Oh, I guess this is my new life, this is fine"? Sorry, but that is not a thing. Don't sneak up on us. Pretend like we're horses. I mean, not generally, just if for some reason you need help remembering not to approach us from the back (weirdo).
Say hi and introduce yourself. Normal human stuff. Don't do any pickup-artist shit, like vaguely insult our hair or ask us a "zany" question or whatever. We're onto you, and we hate it.
Offer to buy her a drink. It's not a bribe—it's a good-faith gesture demonstrating that you respect the value of her time. (Equality, shmequality—we're all adults, so let's not pretend we don't know whose time is more valuable here.)
See if she'd like to dance. This is the fun part! If you don't dance, why are you at the club? Go use Tinder, dude.
Hands off, Handsy. Definitely never start an interaction by touching or grabbing her. And I want to tell you that once you're dancing, and she's throwing off major vibes, touching her waist or whatever is cool, but I don't trust you, so keep your hands to yourself unless you're sure. Are you sure you're sure? Also, even if you're touching her and she's cool with it, don't get greedy and grab around all willy-nilly. That's for home, or maybe the cab.
Respect. The. Curve. This is by far the most important thing on the list, and if it was followed rigorously, the club would be basically a chill utopia. Here are some examples of curves you should respect:
* "I have a boyfriend." This is very possibly a lie, but that's not your business, and don't pull that "you can't have friends?" shit. She is telling you to go away; don't be obtuse. (One time, a guy tried to make me show him pictures of my [imaginary] boyfriend on my phone to prove my [imaginary] boyfriend was real. That is crazy and not a thing you should do.)
* Avoiding eye contact.
* Going to the bar to get a drink and not coming back.
* Being very absorbed in her phone.
* Any form of "no" or "not interested."
Here's what respecting the curve means: Be cool and leave her alone. You're not going to talk her into liking you, and you're making her night shitty for no reason. (If you can't handle rejection without getting pushy or upset, please don't talk to girls until you've been in therapy for awhile.) And even if she's been dancing and flirting with you, she still has the right to curve you at any time, including after you've left the club.
Respect the cockblock, too. Female friendship is real as hell, and our friends are, with rare exceptions, on our team. They want us to get it on with someone cool as much as we do, so if her friends are intercepting you to dance up on her themselves or dragging her off somewhere, chances are your presence is unwanted, and she's made it known. Our girls are our secret weapons against creepers, not jealous haters trying to keep us from the D.
If she's really drunk, just don't. I hope I don't have to explain this one. If she's super drunk and super feeling you, that's great—get her number and text her when she's sobered up. And if you're really drunk, go home. Chances are you're being obnoxious, your vibe-reading abilities have been dampened, and you're not feeling the social inhibition necessary for a civil society.
Have fun! I know dudes are reading this thinking I'm a hater, but I really do believe that consensual club flirting is a beautiful thing, and I partake all the time. Flirting should be fun—it's not an adversarial process unless you make it one. Don't treat us like bodyguards who are trying to keep you from having sex with us. We are us. So help us help you have a good time with us.
Lily Benson lives in Massachusetts and tweets from the club @lil_mermaid.
Image by Tara Jacoby.
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