Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Your Sexual Antics Make Me Puke

Warning! Rash generalizations and social stereotypes ahead!

For years I have been trying to put my finger on something: why do horny people in nightclubs tend to annoy me? On Saturday night, as occasionally happens, Club Abstract was invaded early by a sextet of hootchie girls who spun around me on the otherwise empty dancefloor, hooting, grinding together, attempting a line-dance choreography that simply wasn't working out.

As always in these situations I go through my "anti-mysanthropy thought exercise," to try to see through whatever's bothering me and recognize the antagonist's human traits. But it wasn't working. Plus I was standing next to a friend who expressed great attraction for the hootchies, and who viewed my rising gorge as a sign of my personal bitterness and/or unfounded elitism.

Maybe he's right! Or maybe that's part of it. But over the last few days I've done my best to pick apart what annoys me about the hootchie girls, and what annoys me about bar-sexuality in general, and I think I've finally figured it out.

* * *

First, I have a personal beef about people who are disconnected from their environments; people who see the world as catering entirely to their own social group, no matter where they happen to be at the time; people who think they're projecting a certain impression while they're really projecting a different one; people who are, in a word, clueless about others.

What bothers me about the hootchies is not that they're trying to be SEXY (though I'll get to that angle shortly). What bothers me is that they are being blatantly self-centered -- "This is our dancefloor and everybody is here to see US!" -- while expressing sexual antics (the grinding, the choreography) that THEY think of as "edgy, transgressive, alternative" but are in fact perceived as "typical, desperate, sleazy." Sure, my friend was TURNED ON by their behaviour, but not because they were in any way "edgy." He was turned on because they were exactly what he likes: slutty and attention-seeking. There's a difference.

This "lesbo routine" that girls do in bars is always presented by them as a form of extreme sexuality, when it's actually the most white-bread, overexposed form of dancefloor sexuality around. That's what bothers me: not that they're slutty or average, but because they think they're NOT slutty or average.

Before you accuse me of PICKING ON some concept of "mainstream culture," let me say that I am equally annoyed by counter-culture people whose perceptions are out-of-sync with the rest of the world. There's a gothy-girl at Abstract, for instance, who we call "Stompy Flamingo." She and her way-too-serious boyfriend do an exceptionally uncoordinated tango around the dancefloor, and then she'll break into a random collection of loud foot-stomps that could only be an attempt at "flamenco." It's probably the funniest thing you'll ever see.

But it's not funny because of her dance itself...if somebody wants to do a clumsy flamenco imitation, that alone is not silly. What's silly is that she SERIOUSLY BELIEVES THAT SHE APPEARS TO BE AN ACCOMPLISHED DANCER, but she's not, and nobody thinks she is. And while it's always dangerous to ascribe motivations for people's behaviour, you can usually tell by body language or facial expression when somebody is self-serious.

(As an aside, people like Stompy Flamingo are "Boodles." I keep promising to define the Boodles, and I eventually will. Curiously, the "hootchies" are generally NOT Boodles).

So what bugs me about the hootchies is their belief that they are being "extreme," while the rest of the world sees them as "average." They're the "look at my extreme tongue piercing" people. They're similar to people who actually think that publically displaying their cel phone puts them into a higher social class. They're disconnected in so many ways.

* * *

My second point is that sex is, generally, a pretty boring thing to be around. There's a reason why pornos rarely have a higher concept: when people are horny -- or when they're actually HAVING sex -- they almost always regress to a bundle of need-gratifying cliches. Likewise, when people have sex in movies and books, they either say the same old boring, time-worn phrases, or they talk in a way that nobody EVER talks.

So when people are horny, the part of them that makes them interesting -- their personality -- becomes thinner, because the sex-crazed, primitive animal is rising to the surface and displacing their distinguishing characteristics. That's perfectly natural, but it makes a person a dull boy or girl.

To make the situation worse, however, we tend to replace our REAL personalities with a "sexy routine," one we've learned over the years or -- if we have more than one -- whichever seems to be the most appropriate or advantageous in the current situation. If we pick a totally dull and average routine -- which the hootchies do -- we'll not only be suffering from the lack of personality that sex ALREADY tends to bring, but we'll be REPLACING that personality with something that we saw on Jerry Springer.

The final blow comes when the hootchies, as I said, THINK their Springer routine is something, but it's actually something totally different. Three strikes, you're out, I puke.

Some people certainly DO maintain their personalities when they're horny, which most others probably consider to be confusing and off-putting.

I'd like to point out that people tend to homogenize when they dance, as well. As a final example, on Saturday night there was a guy on the edge of the dancefloor who danced like a tree: his feet were firmly rooted in one spot, he moved his torso back and forth, he waved his arms, and he kept his eyes closed. But unlike Stompy Flamingo or the hootchies, he didn't seem to care about the rest of the world, which precludes him suffering the aforementioned disconnected impression (that he's super-cool but everybody else thinks he looks silly).

The Tree-Dancer actually made me HAPPY, because I believed he was dancing FOR HIMSELF, and that while he was aware enough of his surroundings to not be inconsiderate to others, he was not particularly concerned about how others viewed him...AND he had a pretty good idea of how they really DO view him, as illustrated by the two jocky guys who stood next to him and obnoxiously mocked him.

This gives me a final segue. I realize in my earlier description of my Saturday confrontation that it might sound like my attack of track-suit guy was unprovoked. Nope: he was one of the guys making aggressive fun of the tree dancer, so I automatically assumed he was moving on to making fun of me, which he probably was until I called him on it (at which time he brilliantly switched to victim-mode). Just so you know.


VanillaJ said...

This is an usual course of discussion for you - talking explicitly about sexuality. It's true that the "scripts" for expressing sexuality are fairly narrow. So narrow in fact, that it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the lesbo routine will not be met with the same hostility that the gay boys might recieve in a het pick-up joint. Two girls touching each other provocatively, looking over there shoulders to soak in the male attention....calling it a lesbo routine is a misnomer. And yes, it's annoying and relatively vanilla.

I've never actually thought about what my own acts of seduction look like to anyone else but the person I'm interested in. Perhaps banal, but when my pants are on fire, there's a dirth of elegance. It's all I can muster "Now lie down and let me love you" and then a thunk on the head. I'll spare you the details.

Adam Thornton said...

I refer to it as the "Lesbo Routine" to make clear that it IS a routine, and to give it an unserious sound; it is not an actual expression of lesbianism, it is a silly routine meant to play to male heterosexual fantasy.

In the same way, a "sensitive guy routine" does not mean the person is actually *a* sensitive guy, just that he acted that way because he thought it would improve his chances of conquest.

And that, I realize now, is even closer to the core of what ANNOYS me about this behaviour: it is an act. What's more, it's an act that the actors barely even realize they're doing.

I'm sure I'm banal in my seduction as well. A thunk on the head? Cavewoman!

VanillaJ said...

I wonder what the pick up for sex would look like without the elaborate seduction dance. Would potential partners TALK? Like, about the new Judy Chicago exhibit? Would they list their qualifications plainly? Would the deal close with:

"So, do you wanna fuck?"
"Uhm. Okay!"

Now, from what I recollect, the communication in bathhouses is similarly pared down. My impression is that there is not much of an "act" (although some) in those environments. More like a take out counter. Fact is, that direct method does not serve very many women's needs to begin ready for sex (and plenty of men's, too). People generally want the veil. Too often to an annoying extent, probably because they don't know when enough's enough.

Adam Thornton said...

Yup, it's a weird thing to think about. I wonder if there are three arbitrarily-defined options:

* Just become a sexual primitive: honesty, no act, but no real social personality either (bath house).

* Replace the social personality with an act (hootchies).

* Maintain the social personality, reject any acting, though this might only work for very compatible people (people in novels).

Anonymous said...

It gets worse. The act is a mating ritual and a shield. Those involved develop a “what happened on the dance floor stays on the dance floor” neurosis. Date the same girl who was stroking her friends breasts at the club and you will find that she not only wont go in for a real 3 way, she is painfully awkward or (funnier) inexperienced at actual sex. The more someone pretends to have no inhibitions the more neurotic they are. Thus a stripper or a porn actress will always be the most repressed lay you can get. (Or so I’m told). They are all sizzle and no steak.

These are the behaviors of the lowest common denominator. There are many more of them than there are self analyzing savants like you, and they are not going away.

I sometimes wonder if you are getting too old for clubbing. You sound a lot like me when I decided that anywhere on earth was better than a disco.

Anonymous said...

Oye, all that you need to understand is captured right here:



Adam Thornton said...

Since I try to make it a point NOT to add "sex" to my bar equation, I can't verify your "over-the-top equals naive/repressed" observation, but it wouldn't surprise me much.

It may seem like I'm too old for nightclubs, but I have ALWAYS felt this way about them. The reason I go to them is because I like to dance, I like to socialize, and (admittedly) I like to "be seen." As long as I can do those things I'm happy...but if I'm in a foul mood I start to think too much about OTHER people's motivations.

My New Year's resolution will be to stop doing that.

Adam Thornton said...

Amazing that when we see OTHER animals do a mating dance, we laugh. When we do it ourselves, we're deadly serious!

But I guess that we wouldn't do it if it didn't work...the peacocks DO get peahens by shaking their tails around, after all.

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Anonymous said...

I laughed, I cried, I nodded my head in vehement agreement.

If I go out with any small damper on my mood I almost always become englufed in my own bitter cynicism. Usually my critiques are directed at the smaller, blonder, more boisterous girls, ("hootchies.")

Then I wake up the next day, and while the depressant quality of the alcohol from the night before is the only thing left to remember it by, I decide that I am just envious of the attention these girls attract and that Mill Ave. belongs to them and not to me; I am out of my element and if I don't like the vibe, stay out of the pool.

Anyway, perhaps your arguement appeals to me because it adds some validity to my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Just the thought of someone walking up to a gaggle of dancing nymphs and saying "Your sexual antics make me puke" is awesome though...I can't get it out of my head.

Adam Thornton said...

Smaller, blonder, more boisterous...that's them! And you're right of course; we're in THEIR element when we go to a bar. The edge they have over us is a complete unconcern for our own protocols, since they can't even BEGIN to understand that other people don't think the way they do.

Any time you need a justification for your mysanthropy, let me know! I can do it.

Adam Thornton said...

Johnny, I try not to be THAT mean! But now and then...

Anonymous said...

"This "lesbo routine" that girls do in bars is always presented by them as a form of extreme sexuality, when it's actually the most white-bread, overexposed form of dancefloor sexuality around. That's what bothers me: not that they're slutty or average, but because they think they're NOT slutty or average."

HAHAHA! This is so hilariously true. I loved this whole post. I used to spend a lot of time in this one club in my hometown and I think the same patrons were cloned and sent to the clubs you frequent!

Adam Thornton said...

Worse, Less Lee...I think that those people populate the MAJORITY of bars. They're just regular folks. But I can't help it if I'm annoyed by them!

Sometimes dress codes help, apparently.

PS: Love the Popshifter!