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Friday, December 12, 2008

Track 6: Dance Club as Meat Market?

Written and Performed by Dane Cook

This comedy sketch deals with the dating mecca for young urban adults; a place known as "the club."  Dance clubs are places where they play loud music and serve alcohol, where girls go to dance, and guys go to meet girls.  Comedian Dane Cook's treatment of the club scene is honest and realistic amid his comedic tone.  

Cook begins the act by presenting the male idea of the club by describing his friends;
My friends took me out the other night.  They were like, "dude, we gotta go out man.  Let's go."  I was like, "I don't wanna go out." 
"Come on dude. Lets go get some chicks!"
Yeah?  Just like that? What about that whole middle ground where you're an idiot?!
"No, dude. ..  Let's go get some chicks!"
So they wanna go out dancing, right?  Guys, we go to the clubs 'cause that where you go, the girls go.
 The portrayal of guys here is fairly typical of modern mainstream media- guys are driven by libido to chase these commodified women, casually called "chicks."  The phrase "Let's go get some chicks" sounds, to me like the speaker is hungry, like he wants a product of some kind.  The word chicks could be replaced with 'burgers' or 'drinks.' 

 The speaker seems to consider a chicks a fairly easy commodity to acquire, although Cook disagrees with him on that point.  The dance club has become, at least in some male minds, a kind of store.  At this store, currency is measured by dance moves and good looks, and the products are all on display, for sale to the highest bidder.  

The sketch continues with the female perspective;
Girls go [to clubs] to dance.  You get ready with your friends, "Lets go dance tonight!  Let's just-- fuck guys tonight.  Let's just stand in a circle around our shoes and pocketbooks and let's just dance.  And if a guy comes near us, we'll taser him.  No guys." 
This perspective clashes with Ariel Levy's concept of Raunch Culture.  So what's going on here?  Why aren't these girls throwing themselves at all the men in the club?  My argument is that a club, while often a place to exhibit sexuality and to pick up men, can also be a place just to let off steam every once in a while- a place to hold the fabled "girls night out." 

Everyone needs a break from the constant hunt for love, right?  Even if a girl is happily married, or steadily dating, a break from the role of wife or girlfriend can be pleasant.  Many girls enjoy dancing, so why not dance as a way to escape for an evening?  

Cook continues, humorously reversing the roles of the "girls night out;"
You never hear a guy say to one of his buddies, "Hey, listen.  Mike. Michael. Tonight, dude, I gotta dance.   What?  Chicks? No, no, fuck chicks, dude.  I wanna dance! I just wanna express myself through the art of dance, Mike.  I don't wanna see a chick."
 The humor here comes from the popular ideology that men are always interested in girls.  They may have the "guys night out" involving beer and a sporting event, but does that mean they're not checking out the cheerleaders?  Why do most of the commercials played on ESPN involve scantily clad women?  Because of the insatiable male libido- according to the ideology, anyway.  

As the act continues, Cook revives the theme of commodified women, and discusses the change in the dancing ritual;
Then we [guys] just go to the club and stand over in the corner and stare at you [girls] while you're out there;  Mine, she's mine!!

It's not like the old days where you come up and are like "May I have this dance, please?"  You know?  We just, out of fuckin' nowhere come up,  Pow, Pow! "What's up?"  pow! pow! pow! "You mind if I knock against you with my cock?"  Pow! "Just for about an hour?"
This change in the ritual on the dance floor must be born from the ideology that accompanies Raunch Culture.  In the days of the dance card, women were presumed to be shy, demure, ladylike creatures.  Now, a woman in a club, doing some sexy dancing is considered to be open for business, letting the world know that she wants to dance.  Naturally, customs have changed to reflect this.  If a woman is advertising, however inadvertently, her openness to meet guys on the dance floor, a man cannot be faulted for taking her up on the offer.  

It is also important to consider that "back in the day", one did not simply dance alone- one needed a partner.  Now, it is entirely acceptable to go out on the floor alone, or with a group of girls.   Dancing, along with many other activities, including motherhood, has become partner-optional.  

So, ladies, before we all go out and 'dance in a circle around our shoes and pocketbooks,' let's remember to see who might be checking out our asses.  And gentlemen, remember, 'knocking' into a girl with a your 'denim cock' does not count as a pickup line.  

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