Biologists are familiar with the term lek, which refers to a gathering of the males of a species for the purposes of finding suitable mates. Many biologists and psychologists have (perhaps in a tongue-in-cheek way) referred to nightclubs as the ultimate lek for humans. (1)
Gad Saad, Ph.D. likes to say, “Nightclubs are uniquely interesting in that they serve as the proverbial “meat market” where both men and women meet up and engage in various forms of sexual signaling. ” (1)
The Fascinating Science of NightClubs
Clubs are Designed to Make You Spend Money on Booze
Yale Fox is a sociologist by day and a DJ by night. He delivered a fabulous TED talk about the psychology of nightclubs (and how calculated the whole environment really is). He explains how DJ’s have strong obligations to big alcohol brands, even to the point of organizing their setlist in such a way as to space out slower songs so people continue to visit the bar and purchase drinks. (2)
Fox explains that “dancing to music with a group produces an elevated level of oxytocin in the brain, increasing trust and reducing fear and anxiety. It’s no surprise that liquor brands want to associate themselves with this physiological response.” (2)
Clubs Definitely Have an Unwritten Age Limit
According to research cited by Yorkshire Evening Post, there’s a pretty strong consensus about how old is too old to be attending nightclubs. That age is 37, and most poll respondents explain that at this point, it’s much more of an unnecessary expense than actual fun (and most people would rather be catching up on sleep or episodes of their favorite TV show at this age). (3)
There’s a “Right Way to Dance” According to Science
A 2017 study published in Scientific Reports analyzed how women tend to throw it down on the dancefloor and which dance moves are judged most attractive by the opposite sex (yes, somehow they managed to get funding for this).
The results? Actually, you can see for yourself:
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This is what the most attractive female dance looks like. (You can compare this to the less successful dance moves below). The trick is lots of hip swinging and moving your legs independently of each other, while keeping your arms loose. (4)
The study was actually a follow-up of the male version published in 2010. Watch the hilarious results below:
Clubs are Leks, But for Humans
A 2009 study published by researchers at the University of Leeds explored the human lek of the nightclub and also came up with some interesting results. Lead scientist, Colin A. Hendrie summarizes in a matter-of-fact, yet entertaining fashion, “More than 80% of people entering the nightclub did so without a partner and so were potentially sexually available. There was also an approx. 50% increase in the number of couples leaving the nightclub as compared to those entering it seen on each occasion this was measured, indicating that these congregations are for sexual purposes.” (5)
Hendrie’s team also noticed that more than 80% of couple dances were initiated by the men, rather than the women, and that as a result, the women who showed the most skin tended to get the lion’s share of male attention.
Reading the results of studies like this is one thing, but seeing it in action (with a laughable narrating voice-over, no less) is definitely another! Comedy Sketch group, Viva La Dirt League, created a special treat that does exactly that, and we can barely handle it.
Watch: Clubbing in the Wild (Nature Documentary Parody)
It can’t get any better than that! Don’t miss out on these other great stories:
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