“pussy-grabbing,” personal snapshots (pt. 2)

In high school, we called them “club-parties.” I think now I’d call them raves — old warehouses in empty parts of downtown taken over for the night by DJs playing electronic dance music, hundreds of teenagers from every high school in Denver, black lights, neon. A bit of molly and a lot of coke. Gatorade bottles or flasks filled with liquor and stuffed in your bra or stashed behind a dumpster outside.

I don’t remember half the shit my friends told their parents to be there. “We’re staying over at the house that so-and-so babysits at because the kids’ parents will be out late,” “I’m staying at Afton’s tonight, but her mom is out of town,” etc. etc. etc. I think I probably actually told my mom about the parties but emphasized the security and downplayed everything else (not that that honesty carried over in all areas — I definitely lied to vouch for friends to their parents.)

Something about these nights was beautiful — they were the only times I remember seeing kids from high schools in every part of the city come together (especially notable was the mixing of public and private schools, which is so rare in Denver). The parties were planned by “representatives,” essentially, from each high school who worked together to organize and then market the events within their individual schools.

A lot was not beautiful. With all-male DJs and all-male (and mostly useless) security outside, the spaces felt male-governed before you even entered. I remember one warehouse specifically that had metal walkways above the dance floors in the two big rooms like balconies. I heard the teenage boys calling things out over the music that shook the room before I saw them gawking from above. At one point, I went up to the walkway in the air to look for friends who had disappeared and the hands and comments made me feel like I was being strangled by the pathway itself.

On the dance floor, the number of people seemed to be every boy’s unspoken excuse for touching every part of you as you walked by.

At a different warehouse, on a different night, I found my waist clutched tightly from behind by someone who made no introduction except by the smell of his fruity 5 Gum by the side of my face and then in my mouth. He kept sliding his fingers under the waistband of my jean shorts, and I kept moving them back to my hips — with no idea that I had any other option.

Even though I didn’t want what was happening, I thought the fact that he wanted me probably meant I was doing something right.

I resorted to looking down at the ground to try to keep his tongue out of my mouth and continuing to move my hips to keep from being labeled a prude.

When I finally did look up, I saw my friend through the crowd in front of me with a boy’s hands up her skirt fingering her. She was shaking her hips like me, terrified of rejecting the advances of a man (particularly surrounded by so many others ready to latch on in this space of unchecked male entitlement) but she was also looking at me, mouthing HELP.