“Baby grind on me / Relax your mind and take your time on me / Let me get deeper shorty ride on me / Now come and sex me till your body gets weak with slow grindin’.”
At the risk of appearing old fashioned, Pretty Ricky’s “Grind on Me” and its specified instructions concern us. Deeply. Pun intended.
Grinding, as Urban Dictionary describes in its most modest definition, is “when a girl is in front of a guy, and they’re dancing; her butt to his crotch. He places his hands over her hipbones and pulls her closer. The girl shakes her stuff and the guy enjoys it.”
We did it at middle school dances and Bar Mitzvahs behind the backs of our watchful parents. Most of us got our grind on before we had our first kiss, exploring foreign, titillating sensations without consciousness of anything seedier.
But now, ages away from those years of innocence, in the basements of fraternity houses or at clubs in Center City, the dance move of our generation feels sleazy and self-aware in its sexuality.
According to psychologist Shelly Ronen in her article, Grinding on the Dance Floor, booty-shakin’ has overshadowed all other forms of dance on college campuses.
We’re saturated by images in popular culture, music videos and advertising campaigns.
Grinding is so ingrained in our culture that we don’t stop to question it.
We arrive here as freshmen willing to be just bodies pressed up against other anonymous bodies, moving in ways that would make Gene Kelly cringe. Do you really want to be someone’s “Miss New Booty?”
Since grinding has become socially acceptable, we overlook the fact that it’s usually non-consensual. Before chivalry died, men used to ask women if they’d “care to dance” — there would be an introduction, followed by an invitation and a mutual understanding that both parties were willing partners.
With grinding, any body standing on the dance floor is fair game.
College sophomore Naomi Shavin quipped, “I don’t think that we should live in a society where somebody can rub their boner on your tushy without asking your permission.” Amen.
With every basement encounter, we fall further and further from engaging each other in a meaningful way. More often than not, you don’t even face your partner. Did you manage to catch their last name … let alone their first? And though you might think you look damn hot, trust us, you look all kinds of stupid.
College sophomore Alex Kalyvas (alter ego DJ Sexybeats) often plays observer to these erotic moves when spinning at frat parties.
“You don’t see anyone do anything with their feet or do anything more coordinated than swinging back and forth,” he said.
Shaking your moneymaker in your target’s general pelvic area (to Money-Maker, of course) can be thrilling, but would you do it in more sterile lighting in front of your grandma? No, you wouldn’t. Why has doggy-style dancing become so public, so ubiquitous and so nonchalant?
With grinding, there’s a tacit protocol riddled with primal desire — what Ronen refers to as “a public manifestation of contemporary heterosexual scripts.”
Basically, we all want to get some and grinding is our gateway drug.
Sexybeats associates the rise of bumpin’ and grindin’ on campuses with the parallel rise of hip-hop, rap and now electronic music. He explained that people want their senses heightened, to feel the music. And in the boozy air, feeling the music becomes feeling each others’ bodies becomes…well, you know.
On the other hand, some of Penn’s most memorable evenings have featured live band parties like the Saint Anthony Hall’s 80s party, and even Class Board opted for a Dave Matthews cover band at Skimmer in lieu of the standard fare. We applaud those who put their libidos aside to pioneer an alternative.
It’s not that grinding is wrong, it just needs to be discussed. At what point does it become time to get a room?
We’re not prude, we’re just asking for respect.
So the next time someone approaches you from behind, think: do I really want this person’s pelvis on my butt?
Remind yourself that it’s okay to swat away an uninvited advance and break it down on your own terms.
Though winding and grinding may be the number one recreational dance on campus, we should shake our groove thangs the way we choose.
Hayley Brooks and Ali Kokot are College sophomores from Ft. Lauderdale, F.L. and New York, N.Y. respectively. Their email addresses are email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Think Twice appears every Tuesday.