Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012

Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012
Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas at Luche Libre Taco Shop in San Diego, March 2012

Sunday, January 12, 2014

It Takes Balls To Handle Rejection

                          We're just here to dance, Tijuana Mexico 1987

Yesterday morning a colleague at work and I were having a conversation about what a pain in the ass it was to go to clubs when we were younger and have to deal with asking women to dance (this was back when men asked women to dance at bars/dance clubs - see clubbing, mid-'80's, protocols).

I commented that, living in San Diego, an area of the country overflowing with dance clubs, there were times when my friends and I preferred to go down to Tijuana and visit the $1.00 a dance clubs, as it was just easier to pay for a dance than it was to go through the 9 out of 10 rejections it usually took to get a girl to dance with you at a club in S.D.

BTW, if memory serves me right, we discovered those $1.00 a dance clubs quite by accident when, during one of our many, many visits to TJ, we wandered off the beaten tourist path of Ave Revolucion and kinda just stumbled into one of them - but that's another story for another time.

My comment about the $1.00 a dance club and rejection was overheard by another colleague, a woman in her mid-fifties, and she was a bit taken aback to hear it. She asked if I was serious about both - the visit to the $1.00 a dance clubs, and having to deal with so much rejection that they had become a viable option.

A very adamant "Yes" was my answer to both. Yes, we would, on occasion (maybe once a month? It all depended on whether or not any of us had any cash), make our way to the clubs in TJ, and yes, I experienced about a 90% rejection rate when asking women to dance in clubs in S.D.

She was a bit incredulous, more so about the rejection rate than the $1.00 a dance clubs. She stated that she had married young, and had never experienced the club scene in her twenties, so she had no idea of what went on in them.

Which made me chuckle a bit, and I explained that, even if she had, she would not have had to deal with rejection like the average man would (this woman, BTW, is still very attractive and fit, and not just for her age - she could easily hold her own against most thirty-year olds). Women, I told her, are the rejectors, men are the rejectees.

She still had a look of disbelief on her face, so I explained it a bit more in depth, like so:

Unless you were in the very, very small percentage of men that women just fall over, one with that right amount of attitude or cool or whatever it was/is (I've never figured it out, though I have had it on occasion - yes, it comes and goes), or you were a man of unusual attractiveness (Handsome Brad, for instance), then as a man you were going to get rejected when you asked a woman to dance at a club.

And let me make something extremely clear. I am not speaking of a man who was hitting on a woman in the hopes of getting her in the sack - I am speaking of a man who was simply asking a woman to dance because he just wanted to dance - for those who are in the dark about this aspect of male behavior, allow me to enlighten you - there were (and still are, I believe) men, heterosexual men, numbering in the millions, who simply enjoyed dancing for the sake of dancing. Seriously. And dancing with a partner was/is much more fun than dancing alone.

Okay, since we are all clear on that, let me also make clear that I am not speaking about men who were shooting way too high, only asking women who were out of their league and the like. I am talking about ordinary, everyday guys who asked ordinary everyday women for a dance at a club.

I am switching in and out of the past and present tense, I know. Forgive me.

Most men who have gone to clubs (and by most, I mean, 95%, 96% of 'em) have endured the experience of having the DJ spin one of their all time favorite dance songs, or maybe the latest thing they heard on the radio that they liked and wanted to dance to like nobodies business. Upon hearing the opening notes of the song they would desperately scan the crowded bar in hopes of seeing a woman moving to the beat like he was. If he did see a woman moving to the music like she absolutely must get on the floor and dance or she might explode, he would summon up the courage and make his way over to her and say, "Hey, would you like to dance?"

Inexplicably, 9 out of 10 times her answer would be, "No, I really don't like to dance," or "No, I can't dance to this song," or "No thanks, I'm only here to have drinks with my friends." 

Or some such statement. Bear in mind these statements and other variations of them, are coming from a woman who is literally dancing out of her chair.

The worst part? When you see her two songs later dancing her ass off to a song with the same beat, by a similar band, with a guy sporting a popped collar and parachute pants (Uhm, I'm writing of experiences in the late '80's - I have no idea what the current wannabes look like now).

That's rejection deluxe right there. "No, I won't dance with your fairly normal looking ass, but I will with Joe Douche."

Now, usually at this point in my little diatribes I write something about how this is only my personal experience and I can't attest that this is the experience of all men, or even a majority of them, but this time I will not make such a disclaimer.

I am what is known as a "worldly" man. It may come across as egomaniacal, but I have experienced the world, and not only that, but I have observed it. Carefully observed.

I know what went on, and in all likelihood still goes on, in bars/dance clubs.

From the summer of 1985 until the end of the Spring of 1989, I regularly spent evenings in dance clubs all over the San Diego area. Billy Bones in P.B. was my usual haunt, but I spent many nights at Diego's, Mannequin, The Spirit, Confetti's, The Earthquake Cafe, The Red Onion, Playskool, Halcyon, Studio 9, The Metro, The Daily Planet, Moose Migillycuddy's, The Belly Up Tavern, Bodie's, The Bacchanal, The Zebra Club, The Piranha Room, The Skeleton Club, The Pennant, The Beachcomber...and a fcukload more.

I really loved to dance back then. Still do, actually.    

And, as anyone who has any knowledge of my personality knows, I am a bit neurotic. When I first started going to those clubs and experienced dance-request rejection, I immediately started with the self-analysis. "Is it me?" "What the hell is it about me that makes these women not want to dance with me?" "Am I that unattractive?" "Am I that much of a geek?" "Do I look like a creep" "What kind of aura am I projecting?" "Is it my breath?"

That sort of thing can wreck a guy. Then I started watching other guys, guys who were older and had more experience with this. At first it was to see if there was something I was doing wrong that was easily correctable, or if there was something I wasn't doing that I could learn how to do.

Nope, nope, nope. Nearly every single guy I observed, in every single club I would go to, got rejected at least eight or nine times a night (sometimes always), asking a woman to dance. The exceptions were those guys I mentioned earlier, and like I wrote, to this second I haven't figured out what they had (other than the obvious above-average looks) that allowed them to dodge rejection.

It came down to me going out hoping beyond hope that I would run into someone I had danced with previously who just wanted to dance (That's why I became such a regular at Billy Bones - there were quite a few women there who just liked to dance).

And when I couldn't find one of those women, and if the rejection was intensely heavy, I would just dance with myself - or dance with my group of friends as a whole. There were even times I'd dance with RT (though truth be told, those were usually times when we were hoping to provoke a reaction from the homo-adverse people in the crowd - it used to crack us up to dance to Romeo Void's "I Might Like You Better If We Slept Together" and watch people stare at us on the dance floor). 

But I digress. The short and sweet truth that I did my best to convey to my perplexed colleague was that men face rejection, not just in the pursuit of a woman as a potential sex partner, but also in something as innocent as a dance partner, at a rate that is in excess of a hundred times what even the dullest, most unattractive woman has ever experienced.

know what a woman had to do back then if she wanted to dance? Stand up and walk toward the dance floor. Chances were good that no matter how crappy the song was that was playing, one or more males would be up and ready to dance with her. And if she didn't want to dance with a guy, she'd just grab one of her girls and say, "Let's dance." - no fear of being looked at as a pariah, no chance of other women getting in their faces and challenging them to a fight.

Back then, for us guys, it was quite a different story - rejection, rejection, rejection. I never got used to it, but I did learn to live with it - or rather, I learned to accept it as a condition of what I wanted to do - dance. 

And now...well, now I rarely get the opportunity to go out dancing, and if I do, it's usually with someone who wants to dance with me. Otherwise, screw it, it's not worth the effort.


  1. Okay, Couple of quick thoughts on this whole dance thing.

    . I do not believe I have ever been to a dollar a dance club unless it was a strip club. The closest would be a dime a dance club in Ensenada that you and I hid out in while trying to ditch the Federales that were chasing you.

    I think you are right about the girls dancing with douchebags and rejecting us on a regular basis, however you brought a lot of girls out on the dance floor by dancing by yourself and I rode your shirttail to a lot of their friends ,Thanks
    as far as you and I dancing together, nothing instigates a good bar room fight like two men out on the dance floor at a local beach bar and you know I loved to fight back then . My ratio of getting into fights vs taking girls home from Billy Bones was probably 2 to 1 !

  2. Hah! I'm saving the story of that particular adventure in Ensenada for the screenplay...as for the $1.00 a dance clubs in TJ (and I think you may be right, they were a dime a dance - my memory is nowhere near as clear as yours), I probably went to those 6 or 7 times, with Mike Vops and a guy I worked at Rodney Stokes with (For some reason I believe Flynn and I went to one too).

    And about us dancing to instigate fights...yeaaahhhh, I had actually written that, but then edited it out as I wasn't sure you wanted me to disclose that particular aspect of our glorious misspent youth to the general public...the bone yard was good for two things in particular - a good fight or a girl for the night. I think my ratio was closer to 3 or maybe even 4 to 1, but of course I had ended up working there as a doorman/bouncer/short order cook/barback/bartender for awhile. Damn, I miss that place.