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Taylor Griffith Headshot

Grinding as the Latest Move: What Ever Happened to Dancing?

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CLUB DANCING
Brand New Images via Getty Images

It was earlier this summer that I attended an under-21 dance club for the first time. Going in, I already had some preconceived notions of what it might be like: high noise level, check; sweaty bodies, check; packed dance floor, double check. But what I might have set my expectations too high on was the amount of dancing people would actually do. When going to a dance club, one would think that there would be at least a decent sum of people who actually went for the dancing. Instead, it appeared that the main choice of moves for the night was grinding.

Now I've been to enough high school dances to know that grinding, or public dry-humping as others may like to call it, is not only becoming more popular, but such a normalcy that most people now only refer to it as "dancing." While I'll admit that I'm personally not against the act of grinding (unless it's an extreme simulation of sex publicly displayed through dry-humping to music), I find myself bewildered at both how dependent people have become on the action as a form of dancing and how people approach others to grind with.

First, the dependency. It was astounding to me how lost so many party-goers looked in the absence of grinding. I'd quickly run out of fingers and toes if I had to count how many guys were lined up on the outskirts of the dance floor, surveying the area as if it were their hunting grounds. And if they weren't standing around looking at their options (as that seems the best way to describe it), they were weaving back and forth through the mobs of bodies, only stopping for a grind session before continuing to walk to a new post.

There also seems to be a common belief that grinding is only a male-initiated or desired form of dance. I, for one, can say that I've witnessed multiple occasions where a girl would hop on a lone guy like a car rushing for a vacant parking space. While a number of girls weren't as aggressive in the club, they certainly weren't innocent bystanders either. They would look aimlessly around or switch locations on the dance floor every few minutes if they weren't being grinded on, as if standing the next couple feet away would make them more accessible. Originally, I thought this judgment might be too harsh. But when I watched a group of girls migrate around the club for four songs straight, dancing for short intervals in between while continuously looking over their shoulders, unless they were searching for a lost friend or were concerned about being stalked, what else could they be waiting for? If those previous signs weren't convincing enough, my theory was backed up when they finally settled into a location... after a guy came to grind on them.

Again, while I don't have anything against grinding itself, it's upsetting to see how quickly it's overtaking the dance floor. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned dancing? Before, it seemed as though anyone could have fun just by jumping to the beat of the music and waving their hands in the air. Now, it seems as though for many, there's a grinding requirement in order to have a good time. Who cares which friends you're with or how many of your favorite songs the DJ plays; if you can't grind with at least one person (friends included), then apparently something's not right.

But the biggest problem I see is how grinding is carried out. It would be one thing if you're with a significant other and your urge to be intimate involves a little PDA, or maybe you're on a date and you're really into the person your dancing with. But unfortunately, neither of these are the case most of the time. In the majority of scenarios, grinding is done with a stranger that you may never know the name of or even see his or her face. And when it comes to grinding with said stranger, it's typically the guy who, as another great post on grinding by Laura from Unwritten puts it, "come[s] swooping in from behind like a hawk honing in on a squirrel and just assume[s] that you'll go with it." Not only is there no invitation to dance, but there's no form of communication at all. There's only someone coming up behind you whether you want them to or not, trying you on for size and staying for as short as 20 seconds to as long as a minute before moving on to the next availability.

When did stepping onto the dance floor become an open invitation for anyone to grab at you or feel you up? When did it become socially acceptable for anyone to invade your personal space and touch you intimately without even the slightest attempt at conversation? Where's the appeal to being observed like an option on a platter of meats, to be tried whenever someone else felt they wanted to? Sure, it's more convenient not to ask and one can say no if they don't want to participate, but doesn't everyone have the right to dance without having to tell someone to lay-off every five minutes?

I'd like to speak for myself and the other I-just-want-to-dance partiers when I say, why can't we just go back to the basics?