The Dancing Dilemma (And Why the World Needs Girls-Only Dance Clubs)

The Dancing Dilemma (And Why the World Needs Girls-Only Dance Clubs)

dance club with people dancing and disco ball

Ladies, let me ask you something: If you’re in a serious, committed relationship, do you feel guilty or uncomfortable going out dancing with friends without your significant other? And men, do you feel uncomfortable or upset when your girlfriend or wife spends a night out dancing without you? Is it dependent on the friends she’s going out with? The gender of the group? Whether or not she’s going to be drinking or whether dancing will be involved?

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I recently had to tackle these questions firsthand. My long-term boyfriend has a ridiculous work schedule that forces him to get up at 4:30am on Saturdays. Because of this, he rarely stays up past 9pm on Fridays. Saturdays are also a no-go, because he has his son on those nights and we have to arrange for a sitter.

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However, I’m a HUGE fan of dancing. Not professional ballet or anything, but the raw, carefree body movements that accompany hip-hop throwback and rap music. I don’t care about attracting men or impressing the people around me, I simply LOVE to dance. It gives me confidence, and it’s just plain fun!

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Unfortunately, most dance clubs are only hopping on Friday and Saturday nights. That means I have to choose to either stay in with my boyfriend or leave him behind as I party the night away with friends. When I do go out, I feel an immense sense of guilt that my boyfriend isn’t able to experience this with me. When I stay in, I feel as though I am missing out on other things I could be doing. Even though I still have an amazing time with my boyfriend and his son, I do feel there is a part of my ‘young crazy days’ that I’m leaving behind.

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I chose to go out this time since I hadn’t been in a while, but my boyfriend seemed apprehensive about the whole thing. He made it clear that he trusted me and wanted me to have a good time, but he also encouraged me to wear less provocative clothing and refrain from drinking. He expressed concerns that men in clubs were aggressive, and would probably try to dance with me. He also admitted that if he was drunk and a woman were flirting with him, he would have a hard time not giving in and flirting back. He was worried about how I would react in a similar situation. I reassured him that I would limit my drinking to ensure my head was on straight all night. This whole time, he was under the impression that it was just going to be a ladies night.

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What ended up happening was that none of the other girls’ significant others came, and a friend of a friend brought along his single, male friends to join the group. Why is this an issue? Because many males don’t know how to dance in a group setting, and they often resort to grinding and staring when they aren’t sure what to do with themselves. And for any males looking for advice, this Quora answer to the question “As a guy, how do I dance at a club?” says it all:

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I wonder sometimes whether there are any men out there that go out for the sole purpose of dancing. Is it just a girl thing? Do men just pretend to have fun to kill the time while they hunt for a willing woman?

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I really enjoy this analogy of men in clubs as hunters, stalking the ‘weaker’ (drunker) prey and quickly moving on when a doe runs away or looks a little too meaty when examined up close. You see men weaving through a crowd of dancers and scanning, always scanning. And sure, women probably do the same thing. I just notice the men more because I have to be on guard against them. Instead of traps, they lay rows of shots. Instead of a gun, they have an arm that they wrap around your waist. A hand that rests at your hip. A smile that seems sweet at first. Try going out sober one time and see how it feels to be aware that you’re being hunted. See how your mind naturally goes on alert, and realize that most of the women around you have dulled their ‘warning’ alarm with Bicardi and Titos.

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You’ll know the stalking when you see it. When non-dancing males circle around a group of women and stare, turning the women into objects that have to perform and impress. And when they no longer impress or when something jucier pasess by, see ya later alligator.

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I don’t understand why clubs have to be this way. I mean, why come to a dance club if you don’t enjoy dancing? Why has dancing in public become associated with ‘I’m single, come fuck me’? And side note–why do we need alcohol to feel comfortable dancing in public?

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What I also don’t like is when men feel like your dancing is–in some bizarre way–an invitation for sexual advances. Even when all you’re doing is a fist pump or shoulder sway. Did I ask you to come up behind me and totally kill my creative dance move freedom? Did I ask you to stand awkwardly around me, clapping as if to say ‘give me something to applaud’? Nope, never said that. Someone must’ve spiked the drinks with delusion though, because it’s all I see when I go out with friends.

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“I think what I find so degrading is that guys don’t just look for what they’re attracted to, it’s more about who is easiest. What’s the minimum effort I can put in for the sole person of a hook up… which I think speaks to this generation in general.”

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It sucks that women have to rebuff men multiple times before they get the hint. It sucks that women have to ‘save’ each other from persistent men, watch their drinks, and double check that there isn’t someone miming humping motions from behind them. Since when did having fun have so many strings attached?

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I hate that I have to stare at the ceiling while I dance to avoid accidentally making eye contact with someone. I hate that I can’t fully enjoy dancing because it’s tainted by my feelings of discomfort. I love the rush of dancing in a crowd and feeling the energy around me, but sometimes I would rather rock out alone in my room than deal with the objectification and unwanted advances that inevitably ruin my night when I go out.

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“I don’t think the blame for club behavior can be solely with the guys, because there’s a portion of woman that go to clubs that want that attention.”

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I think it’s important to point out though that not all men are bad guys. There are a ton of guys who go out to clubs just for the sake of meeting new people and de-stressing after a long work week. On that same note, I’m sure there are a ton of women who go out with the intention of finding a guy to go home with. Or maybe they just want to feel desired (as we all do). Club behavior can’t be solely blamed on males. Your motivation for going out dancing dictates the level of comfort you feel toward advances. Who knows—maybe that guy eyeing you from across the room makes your heart race. As someone who doesn’t go out with intentions to meet guys though, I’m unhappy with the system.

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But back to my story. I decided not to drink at all because I wanted to have my wits about me. Were I just with a group of girls, I would have no problem letting loose and trusting my intuition to fend away strange men. The whole night, I struggled with self-consciousness. I was worried that I would have to be friendly to the guys in our group, which meant not snapping at them when they grabbed me, not moving away when I could clearly see them staring at me, not pushing them away when they tried to dance with me. I didn’t feel like I could whip out my typical, sexy dance moves without seeming like I was flirting or asking for attention.

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The whole time, I was worried about what my boyfriend would think, and how I would react if the roles were reversed. I didn’t want to appear uptight, but I also didn’t want to send the wrong signals. I wanted to show my new ‘friends’ that I could have fun, but I also didn’t want them to think I was DTF.


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I also struggled with another dilemma: Was it fair of my boyfriend to not trust me? Was it fair that I had to sacrifice my fun so he wouldn’t feel left out or jealous? Was it his apprehension and obvious disapproval that was preventing me from enjoying one of the activities I loved most?

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Many of my other friends had experienced unhealthy relationships where their boyfriend was controlling and paranoid. They talk about how they weren’t able to see how terribly their boyfriends were treating them until after they had broken up. In these cases, their boyfriends would criticize the way they walked, express distrust toward their friends and chastise them for going out dancing. It was this last one that stuck in my head. Was I in an abusive, controlling relationship because my boyfriend didn’t like me going out dancing without him? Or was this a perfectly normal concern? Was I blinded to the controlling aspect of my boyfriend, or was I unwilling to change my ways out of pure stubbornness?

8 Early Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship

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I naturally looked at my parents’ relationship for guidance, keeping in mind that they represented the extremely conservative side of things. My father has no single, female friends. In fact, he has no female friends at all. My mother also has no male friends. Neither of them drink when the other isn’t there, and neither of them have ever been drunk period. In case you couldn’t tell, I come from a very religious household.

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Was is it so wrong then, for my boyfriend to be concerned that I was hanging out with single males? And not just hanging out a pub during the day, but dancing late at night in a club, partaking in a ritual which many consider to be all for the purpose of a hooking up? Were it not for the reputation of dance clubs and the justified stereotype that men in clubs are skeevy, I wouldn’t feel any guilt going out dancing without my boyfriend. In fact, I would feel annoyed that he didn’t trust me.

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The problem is that he knows how men think. He knows that the club is hunting grounds, and that anything past 11pm is open season. And because he knows this, I believe he is well within his rights to worry. He would have even more cause for worry if I were drinking as well. By looking at the situation from his perspective, I was able to see that his apprehension stemmed from a distrust of the hunters rather than doubt in my abilities to be faithful.

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And while I know there are many women out there that think ‘I’d dump a guy as soon as he tried to reign in my wild side’, I’ve realized that I can still have fun without upsetting my boyfriend. We can find time to go out dancing together, and I can ensure that I only go out with groups of girls. I can limit my drinking, and head home early if I start feeling weirded out by a situation. I know that he trusts me, but I also don’t feel like testing that trust unnecessarily.

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My roommate once said that relationships require compromise–not sacrifice. She had dealt with a 4-year relationship where she was the one making all the sacrifices, and it ultimately led to their break up. I don’t have to sacrifice my love for dancing, but things do have to change for my boyfriend to feel comfortable with it. That’s where the love comes in. I love my boyfriend more than I love going out dancing. And it’s not that he asked me to stop going out. I could sense that he wasn’t cool with it, and I made the decision to change the way I was doing things.

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As a hard core feminist, it’s difficult for me to come to terms with the fact that I can’t do everything the same way I’ve always done it. Ideally, there would be clubs out there that are just for women to dance and have fun without the threat of men closing in on them. A safe haven for women who are taken or women that just need a night to let loose without feeling hunted. Maybe we could call it ‘Off Season’? For anyone else struggling with this dilemma, I hope this helped. Relationships are tricky, and they take a lot of work. Follow your gut and make sure you consider their perspective before getting defensive.

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What Do You Think?

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Have you had to deal with this dilemma before? Are you also sick of creepy men at clubs? Do you disagree with me completely? Comment below with your stories, feelings and feedback!

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