Last week at '80s night I was grooving along on one of the stages when I heard two guys settle down behind me, and caught one of them saying "No, you something something, I can't something." About two seconds later, I felt a push from behind that wasn't very forceful, but enough that I had to hop off the stage ledge that I was close to, landing squarely and easily on both feet about four feet down.
Without thinking or even trying to get a glance at who they were, I reflexively climbed back on the stage and began the pecking order routine. Because the violence level has been so low for so long, I don't think this stuff is as widely known as it should be. In that situation, you use simple body language to remove losers from your territory, naming touching them frequently and forcefully.
I half-thought of socking the guy in the gut and shoving him off the stage, but there were two of them, they had a wall to back them up and I had my back to the dance floor below, plus there was a security guard nearby. But in a species like humans where direct brute force doesn't play as large of a role as somewhat subdued physical dominance, you don't really need to lay into somebody like that very often.
All I needed to do was start giving the one guy a fairly strong series of open-handed pats on the shoulder closest to me, while telling him that you don't do that to me because I'll get you kicked out of here. Usually they'll be caught off-guard and say they didn't hear you, so that gives you another opportunity to give them a good series of strong pats -- or almost like pushes -- on their shoulder while you repeat what you said. Just patting them isn't good enough; distracting them with some bullshit lines makes it go over more smoothly. And make sure to stand up straight and to never break eye-contact.
The first guy ended up saying that he didn't do anything, so get the fuck back, giving my arm a little push away. Again don't let anything like that go; use that as another opportunity to heavily pat him on the shoulder while smoothing it over with something like, "it had to have been one of you two." His friend was standing right next to him, closer to me. Because the first series of pecks was on his farther-away friend, I'd already invaded his personal space by reaching across his body to peck his friend. I didn't think about it at the time, but maybe that's a good idea of who to start with -- the one who's a little farther away, so you can invade the nearer one's space right off the bat and marginalize him before dealing with him directly later on.
Same basic procedure with the second guy, and he too was caught off-guard and asked what I'd said. Since he was closer, that gave me the chance to go for the around-the-back pat on the opposite shoulder, where you're almost closing them in with your arm. I told him the same basic thing -- that you don't do that because they know me here and I'll get you kicked out. He must have been the one who did it because he didn't get worked into righteous indignation, just giving a lame and unemotional "well... I didn't do it..." And unlike the first guy, who at least gave a single token wimpy push-back, the second guy didn't return my pats at all.
I didn't run off to tell the security guard what happened or even try to work anything out with the two guys -- just turned back around and kept up my energetic pace at dancing. Standing your ground when you're encircled is an honest signal that you're more ready and willing to give it to them, unlike moving off or running away. They looked pretty demoralized after getting called on their cowardly behind-the-back stunt and given a lengthy pecking order pat-down in front of a crowd, up on stage where they're even more visible no less, and within ten seconds or so they climbed down from the stage and walked away with their tail between their legs. Not just off-stage while in the same area -- they sulked off the dance floor entirely, and I didn't see them the rest of the night, so they may have left the club altogether. I made sure to give them a good "gotcha" smile and wave good-bye as they were walking away.
The whole episode must have lasted long enough for others to see because when I looked across the room, there were a couple girls on the stage over there who were smiling devilishly over at me, like yeah, that'll show those two losers! good job, dude! It's not as though I tackled an armed robber in a crowded supermarket, but even an everyday instance of flushing the scum down the sewer where they belong goes appreciated. Girls especially respond to that because they can guess how those chumps would behave around females.
And they weren't weak-looking guys either. Both were either late teens or early 20s, somewhat muscular but not athletic -- gym monkies -- between 5'11 and 6'1, black, and again there were two of them. But with violent conflict being so rare these days, that was probably the first time they'd ever gotten into a potentially violent situation, and certainly the first time they ever got the pecking order pat-down. They had no clue how to navigate the situation, so it all rushed by them and they had to call time-out and leave the game.
Oddly enough, something similar happened a little earlier that night. That time it was just one dude, a white guy about 6'3 and also muscular-but-not-athletic around 20 years old. He tried to butt into my space on the right side, trying to move push me aside with his butt while facing away from me. Again when you start off by not even looking me in the face, I know you're not for real. In a dance club situation, all you do is dance with your arms swinging so that your elbow catches him in the back or sides, like you spur a horse to get moving.
He didn't respond, so I kept it up. After about five contacts, he whipped around like a spazz and said, "yo bro, knock it off. like, why don't you just go down over there," pointing off-stage. It's best not to try to argue with someone, because you only need to signal that it's your space and not his. I usually go with "I'm cool, dude" or "I'm good, man," or a condescending, "You're cool, dude," as the line to use while initiating the series of pats on the shoulder. I resumed dancing, and sure enough he hopped off the stage and shuffled away annoyed. Guess you're not king of the hill after all, eh spazz boy?
I only recall this happening twice before last week. One time the stage was not even one foot off the ground, and someone gave me enough of a push from behind that I had to step off (I was already on the edge, since it was crowded). When I turned around and saw a World of Warcraft nerd, I instinctively went with a more aggressive move -- gripping one shoulder with my left hand and using the right one to pat him hard and open-palmed on the chest. The chest is more vulnerable than the shoulder or arm, so your gut tells you to do that only when you're not facing a real threat. He pretended not to care what I was saying, but nevertheless spun around and walked off with his group of friends without returning my pats with any kind of physical contact. He was around 20, white, and about 6'3 or 6'4 but totally out-of-shape, again like a 7-11 diet-eating WoW addict.
The other time it was roughly 20 year-old guy who butted into me pretty hard from behind with his ass. Most young guys these days approach girls in dance clubs by backing their ass up into the girl's crotch, as an ironic reversal of sex roles that's supposed to be disarming yet sexy. In reality they wind up looking like colossal fags. It was one of those moves, yet again from behind my back, although this was only off of the one-foot-high stage. I turned around to see someone shorter than me, probably 5'6 or 5'7, which gave me the unusual opportunity to surround him physically and stare him down. Always fun when I get the chance!
I began to squeeze him from both sides with my hands and upper arms around his shoulder area, and he tried to act indignantly like "hey man, get the fuck off," even trying to push my arms off of his. That's when you squeeze even harder to signal that you want it more than he does. "Don't let me catch you doing that ever again," I said while leaning over into his face and still squeezing him. The second time he didn't even bother trying to wiggle free, and had to split with an embarrassed look on his face, like "you didn't have to do that, man." He had either his girlfriend or a female friend with him, and as she trailed him off the dance floor, I saw her looking at him with a little pity but mostly disgust. He was white and also muscular-but-ineffectual.
As in all primate politics, these kind of conflicts tend to involve one or usually more low-ranking males trying to overthrow the male who's getting more attention, taking up more territory, and so on. But a dance club is more of a lek than a battle arena, so it's the wrong place for them to topple someone from their throne -- the other onlookers won't tolerate brute force in that context. The male onlookers will come beat the shit out of them if they really try to take me down a peg, while the female onlookers will banish them as a bunch of cowardly losers who are just jealous of the attention-getters.
Plus I myself will shut them down with standard pecking order touching, which is never violent enough so that the male onlookers will start in on me. In fact, they'll look on in approval at a guy who is able to clear others out of his space in a physical but not a pugilistic manner. If they want to gang up on me, don't they know they're supposed to do it in an alley or somewhere with no witnesses? Morons.
I rather like these encounters, rare as they may be nowadays. One, I get to help younger males grow up -- I'm part of the real world that doesn't give a shit about them and will squash them if they try to step on my dick. Most guys today never get to learn how to behave around strangers until they get their first full-time job between 25 and 30. They should thank me for giving them a little lesson in growing up.
For the same reason, I really do appreciate being pushed and shoved every once in awhile. Otherwise you become one of those children who never gets exposed to toxins or other harms in the environment and who winds up allergic to everything. Your body, mind, and soul need to be stressed in a test now and then to give them the signal that they need to stay in shape. Without any pressures from the outside world, they figure it's not worth the cost of maintaining themselves, and they start shutting themselves down. And just like with tickling, it's not something you can replicate on your own, no matter how hard you try to imagine. It has to come from a real outside pressure.
Plus the energy boost it gives you is one-of-a-kind. And as I mentioned earlier, girls take notice when you control people physically but politically. Best of all, though, is the feeling that you're actually doing something meaningful. Earning a wage is being useful but rarely feels meaningful. Spending time helping to rear your younger kin feels meaningful for awhile, but that's more fulfilling an obligation than it is rising to the occasion. Driving the foxes out of your pasture and keeping them out of everyone else's is one of the few things you can do to satisfy that desire for meaning in your life.
Konrad Lorenz was correct to call aggression "the so-called evil," since the standard thinking back then was that the aggressive instinct (i.e., not including self-defense) was uniformly bad. He pointed out that some material good came of it, for example by causing hostile individuals to spread out from one another and keep the population density lower than if they were all crammed next to each other, thereby allowing a higher standard-of-living for all. (Documenting this public benefit from individual behaviors doesn't require us to assume that the public benefit caused the individual behaviors to evolve, a point overlooked by everyone who poo-poos Lorenz for his naive group selectionist views.)
We need some degree of violence and evil out there to spur forward our growth, external as well as internal. Otherwise we end up as weak and bored as a sheep dog in a world with no wolves.