A naturalist’s guide to downtown night life

Matthew Brophy

More fascinating than the plains of the Serengeti, more intriguing than the rainforests of Brazil, is the bar scene of downtown. Every Friday and Saturday night, males and females congregate in the various burrows and watering holes of downtown to engage in an elaborate mating dance. Both sexes display a motley of colors and fashions as they parade around the streets. An ethologist would literally have a field day studying the behavior of this peculiar upright animal. Surely, it warrants a nature channel documentary.

Having witnessed, as well as participated in, this mating dance myself, I have observed identifiable patterns and strategies used to attract the attention, and presumably “affection,” of a desirable mate. Being male, I will primarily focus on the, sometimes pitiful, attempts of males to attain a female.

As a male, one must be aware of female migratory patterns. One thing males should keep in mind is that alpha females are always on the move. Females migrate from the initial starting bar – where abundant drinking occurs – to more evolved bars that offer a dance floor to strut what their mothers gave them. A guy might be admiring the lovelies one second, then after taking a full drag of beer, discover that they’ve all disappeared in some mass exodus.

In attracting the attention of females, males need be aware of how to dress. For instance, wearing a visor backwards is an immediate sign you’re an idiot. A guy shouldn’t look as if he was just playing poker with his buddies and decided to go downtown in a last minute rush. And a special note to those leather pants-clad guys: You are not a rock star (and your garage band, “Spunky Monkey,” “Sloppy Dog,” “Sperm Bank,” or whatever, doesn’t count). Lastly, mesh “muscle” shirts. It’s great if you have muscles, but if you want to showcase them don’t do it by wearing something you can strain spaghetti through. This goes double for those flabby individuals sporting “man-breasts.”

However, it’s not just how you dress but the air about you. Though pheromones are supposedly insensible to human beings, women are very intuitive. For instance, a woman can instinctually tell when a man has the “stink” of desperation on him. If a guy hasn’t gotten any action in a while, he’ll start exuding negative pheromones called “chick-away” – similar to “bug-away”. For instance, if a guy is having no luck with the ladies, one of his buddies might say, “Dude, you must have the ‘chick-away’ on tonight.”

To break the cycle of desperation and get rid of the “stink,” a guy can resort to what’s called the “slumpbuster.” Now, contrary to popular opinion, a guy can have sex whenever he wants – even with a female. All he has to do is significantly lower his standards. One strategy a male can use to get out of a slump is to couple with a female he might consider aesthetically challenged. Once the male has cleansed himself of the stink and rejuvenated his mojo, he can resume his normal mating strategies.

Most successful male strategies rely on team play. The simplest of strategy is the “wingman.” The wingman’s purpose is to help his friend hookup. Often this will involve self-sacrifice on the part of the wingman. For instance, “diving on the grenade” is when the wingman has to hook-up with the aesthetically challenged female who accompanies the hot friend his buddy is trying to hook up with. Due to the self-sacrificial nature of this act, said wingman should not be teased the next morning.

Another team-play maneuver, called the “wedge-breaker,” is derived from the punt-return strategy in football. On the playing field of dating, the wedge-breaker is needed to break up a group of several girls who are out on the town to celebrate their girl power. It’s certain suicide for an individual guy to approach a female in this group, since each girl realizes that talking to a boy would constitute mutiny and betrayal to the female solidarity.

The wedge-breaker is a guy whose purpose is to disrupt the gaggle of girls by breaching the group and becoming loud and obnoxious. After the females become disoriented by his antics, another male can then move in to introduce himself to an isolate female by apologizing for his “friend, who’s apparently had too much to drink.”

Of course, sometimes male team play breaks down. For instance, sometimes the wingman defects and goes for the hot girl his friend has been talking to; this would be called “mowing his friend’s lawn.” Also, using a term coined from the competitive mating behavior of male roosters, the “cock block,” is when a male blocks another male from the female he’s been talking to – though usually for spite or amusement rather than any real interest in that female.

The dance floor is a central arena for coupling. Women should be wary of several types of seedy males that prowl the dance floor. Alcohol tends to let males’ Freudian ids off their leash to go hump legs. For instance, guys like to “freak” girls – that is, to suggestively “dance” by unsubtly thrusting themselves at the female. One reason for this is that guys can’t dance – that, and because they’re randy. A male who’s freaking might even go as far as administering to a girl what’s called a “stinger.” The “stinger” is a contact maneuver that lets the female know he’s physiologically interested (i.e., that’s not a snorkel in his pocket, he is happy to see you).

Another type of guy on the dance floor is the “Dr. Feelgood.” Dr. Feelgood is out there simply to brush against females and offensively cop feels, oftentimes administering the “spine-check.” The spine-check is when a guy trails his hand down the body of a passing girl, neck to rump.

Then there’s the more passive “lurker.” Lurkers are those guys who dance right next to a girl, pathetically hoping she’ll dance with him or pay attention to him. Related to the lurker is the lesbiphile. Reminiscent of many late-night Cinemax (aka “Skinemax”) movies, when two women are sensuously dancing with one another, the lesbiphiles flood the perimeter to watch. You can identify lesbiphiles by their lurid staring and the fact they’ve become so excited they’ve stopped breathing.

To achieve interaction with a female on the dance floor, males need to make sure the female to male ratio is optimal. If a guy wants the ratio to be promising, he shouldn’t go out on the dance floor when the Beastie Boys, or some other guy music is playing. That’s when groups of guys flood to the dance floor and start “raising the roof,” emphatically pointing toward the ceiling and slurring lyrics. Rather, males need go out when the disc jockey is playing Abba or other female-oriented music – though males need make sure to avoid Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”.

Taking advantage of the sex ratio can also be done during weeknights. For instance, “hospitality nights” offer discounts to restaurant servers, hairstylists and massage therapists. Usually this means the sex ratio will be top-heavy with women. Add to this that the men in these professions, statistically, won’t be as interested in getting in a girl’s pants as much as wondering where she bought such fabulous pants.

There are, of course, assorted dangers of going out on the prowl. One danger both sexes need be aware of is the “land mine.” A land mine is when you’re talking to friends at the bar and you turn around and, “Boom!” You run into an ex or someone you’ve mated with in the past and hoped never to see again.

Irrespective of the pitfalls, finding a desirable mate is a difficult task. Many of us spend a considerable amount of time and resources as marionettes in this mating dance. My wish is that everyone finds what they’re looking for. But always remember, despite the pretenses of civilization, it’s a jungle out there.


Matthew Brophy’s biweekly column appears alternate Wednesdays. He welcomes comments at [email protected]. Send letters to the editor to [email protected]