I was recently “wooed” by a young gentleman on the dance floor at a trendy nightclub in the city. Let’s call this young lad ‘Adam’ to my Eve. Adam was reasonably attractive, but the jacket he had wrapped around his head and tied up underneath his chin showed him up to be the ultimate clubbing warrior, fueled up on too much Dutch Courage.
In the midst of the smokey air and thumping Rihanna, Adam had grabbed me firmly by the arm and yanked me away from my friends. And then with all the grace of The Big Bad Wolf, Adam promptly stepped forwards and blew onto my forehead. My fringe had fluttered upwards with the disgusting scent of his beer breath, and Adam’s saliva settled right in between my eyebrows (a real turn on, if you were wondering). Clearly my alarm and confusion was not evident to poor drunk Adam, who then pouted his lips and moved closer.
Because who needs Romeo and Mr Darcy for starry-eyed encounters on the dance floor when there is an abundance of Adams out there? They’re everywhere, dancing awkwardly under the pumping music of nightclubs around Australia, sweat patches growing steadily under their arms. Lucky us!
19 and you’re dancing in a dress you’re not not sure of, stretching your mouth into smiles you’re not sure are convincing. Drunken, sweaty bodies move in unorthodox ways under strobe lights. Dance moves appear jolted, tipsy stumbling goes unnoticed. The fog machine puffs out an all-essential barrier of mist between you and the strange guy in front of you, the guy whose pupils are tellingly dilated. Stray hands, once covered by the crowd of swaying clubbers, grab for your breasts, your behind, your shoulders, as if a young woman in a mosh pit becomes a malleable doll – an object that hungry club rats can tug and touch to their pleasure. Alcohol is frequently dripped onto feet and legs; shards of glass and the spillings of liquor from overfilled glasses line the sticky floor.
At the women’s bathrooms, you let the alcohol soften the appearance of unflushed toilets with no toilet paper and more broken glass and something weird going on in the corner. You tsk at your sweaty hair and flushed face in the foggy mirror. A fake-tanned girl, fake ID in hand, is crying, stuttering, “I-just didn’t th-think clubs w-would be like this!” They’re not all like this, you soothe, you just need to choose better. “Fuck, I need a tampon!” An older girl with a strong American accent demands. You give her one. “It doesn’t have an applicator?” You talk her through the process. “If the guy you were kissing just grabbed you by the throat, what would you do?” A young woman with smeared lipstick asks softly to nobody in particular. The gang of you, Bathroom Girl Crew, find the big bald bouncer and throat-grabbing-man is ejected onto the street.
But, you know, sometimes, it is all worth it. Sometimes you hit the jackpot. You manage to sneak in wearing flat-soled old Converse because you’re a woman and we need you here to attract men – your short skirt probably helped, too. As luck would have it, you’ve avoided sleezy butt-touches and you’ve successfully elbowed the man who is probably a little too old to be here out of your dancing circle. Maybe, if you’re SUPER lucky, you’ve even met a nice dude who doesn’t just lock eyes with you and immediately shove his tongue down your unsuspecting throat. You make friends in the bathroom where nobody is crying. Maybe you leave alone – maybe you and the Nice Boy leave together – but your drunk heart feels full, not lonely, and you’ve Got This like the real young person you’re meant to be.
In highschool, one of my friends and I used to joke about how we’d like to buy a nightclub venue and make some specific rules for it. Rules would be: no overtly sexist/homophobic/racist songs; no high heels of any kind – comfortable dancing footwear only. Well-cleaned bathrooms might provide emergency tampons, condoms and deodorant. Men would be prepped pre-club entry on how to appropriately approach a girl: “Don’t touch her without permission.” There would be a universal signal of attraction, so that it would be easy to know whether someone was interested in you or not: pat your head and make eye contact for yes, shake your head and cross your arms for no.
And definitely no fringe-blowing.