Getting my 'Freak Dancing' On at Whitlow's
'Faked being young and hip all weekend, and it wore me out!'
While out this past weekend, with visiting friends in town for our high school class reunion, I was reminded of the reasons people – of my age and correlating physical composition – no longer relish clubbing.
Too hot. Too crowded. Too loud. Too much standing. Too dirty bathrooms. Too many non-arch supporting brown flip-flops. And definitely, too much dirty dancing – better known as “freak dancing” or “grinding.” Whatever you want to call it, there wasn’t anything just right about it.
If you were at Whitlow’s on Wilson in Arlington on Saturday night, you surely noticed my group bearing witness to all of these transgressions. We were easy to spot, if only for our sensible shoes. We were also the gawking, lone, non 20-somethings in the house, repeatedly hoisting our jaws off the floor in response to the erotic undulations and gyrations unselfconsciously being bandied about all over the dance floor.
You also might have overheard a few in my party (especially those who had partaken generously of vodka tonics earlier in the evening) chanting, “Get a room!” to the provocateur millennials.
Even though we’d all been taught (and had instructed our own offspring, as well) that it is impolite to stare, we were unable to avert our eyes. As parents of teens and tweens, we were viewing firsthand the very things we had previously only feared, heard or read about. Freak dancing was foreign to most of us, and at the risk of aging ourselves and/or losing major cool points, I have to admit, we were all pretty horrified.
For those unfamiliar or unindoctrinated to freak dancing – also called freaking, grinding, juking, housing, bubbling, bump and grind, crunking (United Kingdom), winking or wining up (in the Caribbean where it is popular with children as young as 12 years old during the Carnival season) – it is when two or more dancers rub or bump together to music in a suggestive and sexual manner that simulates intercourse.
In the United States, freak dancers tend to be young teens and adults who have embraced this form of sexual expression on the dance floor. Most credit MTV as introducing this style of dance. But back in 1987, the movie "Dirty Dancing" portrayed a milder version of freak dancing. And a couple of years later, the Lambada also had some variations of grinding.
On Saturday night, one cut-up (belonging to the aforementioned vodka tonic-infused set) in our reunion group jokingly gave freak dancing the old college try. I’m still laughing at the visual of this hilarious woman – a married educator, self-described as “large and in charge,” and a few years south of 50 – sneaking up on posturing, studly, unsuspecting 20-somethings with sudden, robust, from-the-rear, pelvic thrusting and grinding.
Her antics and the reactions they generated had the rest of us doubled over with laughter – a most precarious predicament – considering our predisposition, at this age, towards bladder control issues.
For those amongst us, not quite as brave (or uninhibited) as my friend, but who want to give freak dancing a try, here are some tips from WikiHow on how to improve your technique.
- Practice at home where no one is watching or in a closet or secret place.
- If someone tries to grind with you, and you are not interested, just shake your head, smile, and if you would like, take a couple of steps away.
- Don't touch yourself and try to act all sexy. It'll probably seem forced.
- If a guy touches you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, leave or move his hand. Just because you're grinding it doesn't give him the right to grope you.
- If you want to pop lock and drop it, then make sure he doesn't go down with you, just pop lock and drop it normally.
- The best dancers glow in confidence. If you are worried about how good of a dancer you are, when you grind with someone remember that you are already dancing, so he obviously doesn't have a problem.
- Try practicing on a wall or a friend that is with you.
- If you are to join a train, make sure you are in between people you are comfortable grinding with!
- A fast song like go-go, rap or hip-hop is best to grind to.
- If a guy is behind you, and you're mostly sure he wants to grind with you, back into him a bit, so that he knows you are interested. He will most likely put his hands on your hips, and you will start to grind.
- Don't get mad if you see a guy you grinded with grinding with other girls. Grinding isn't serious. It's just for fun!
- Move up and down and be sure to bend your knees and move your knees side to side.
Or, you can be just like me – stick your head back in the sand and pretend you never saw such movements; pray your kids never get invited to a high school dance and if they do, that it's at one with lots of nuns running around with rulers; and lastly, thank your lucky stars that this type of dancing wasn’t in vogue when we were growing up.
Back in the day, I remember being self-conscious slow-dancing to "Stairway to Heaven" and not knowing how to move when the music started picking up at the end. I can't even imagine how I would have handled grinding.
My friend, Kris Neel Tibbs, best summarized our fun-filled and eye-opening reunion weekend upon returning home, with her Facebook status update, “Nap time. Faked being young and hip all weekend and it wore me out!”