The expectation that men should make the first move is long-standing and hasn’t shown many signs of dwindling in spite of feminism’s best efforts. As a girl who loves clubbing and the chaos of one-night-stands, I often find myself inventing ways to attract the attention of others without coming off as desperate or “thirsty”—much as I do resent that free and open expressions of female sexuality can still be perceived as such. More recently, I have done away with coy subtlety and ventured further into the direct, outrageous, and often hilarious means of expressing my attraction to both men and women in the club.
Heavy Eye Contact
Eye contact: a basic in Flirting 101, an essential in any “on the pull” starter kit—it’s also the easiest place to start (minimal effort, with optimal results—if the vibe is right), which is why it takes first place on my list. Sustained eye contact is probably the best means of communication in any club situation; you can treat it as a kind of telepathy, a way of projecting “shag me” across the room. Please do remember it’s not a staring contest—you can blink (and it might be good to make a conscious effort to do so).
Pro-tip: if you’re feeling especially bold, throwing your handsome stranger a cheeky wink can help to send whatever message it is you’re trying to project across the crowded dancefloors and above the noise.
Throw Some Shapes
Eye contact plus winking PLUS doing it all whilst doing impossible things with your body on the dancefloor is surely a winning combination. Sadly, I lack what the kids call rhythm—but does that stop me? No. Through brazen confidence and appropriate levels of cheek(iness), I’ve compensated for my lack of skill—and so can you! But to all the ladies who can “throw shapes,” who no doubt inspired Alex Turner’s lyric “I bet you look good on the dance floor,” twerk, slut-drop, and make those hips do the talking for you.
The Smoking Area: “Anyone Got A Light?”
As I’m no dancer, chat—or, the gift of the gab—is my greatest asset when it comes to flirting. But clubs, with their sweaty crowds, heavy bass, and people shout-singing, aren’t designed for conversation. This is where the smoking area comes in handy (beyond smoking, that is). If secondhand smoke doesn’t bother you, and you don’t mind going home reeking of tobacco, it’s the best, and only, place in a club where sustained conversation is possible.
I’ve spent embarrassing amounts of time scouring club smoking areas, looking for eligible bachelors/bachelorettes to whom I can pop the question: “Got a light?” This is a fail-safe question I ask frequently and not because I smoke (much), but because it’s the most effortless way to ease into a conversation and a great way to gauge the vibes through the other party’s response. I’ve met a fair few of my more successful one-night-stands in club smoking areas—they’re a great place to get to know someone, at least a little, before you make any moves.
Okay ladies, time to reclaim this masculinized term—away from male self-proclaimed seduction artists. I’ve used sunglasses, a t-shirt with “sex” written across it, lip gloss, and a very pink sparkly tie to attract attention in clubs before. All have been pretty effective. The t-shirt speaks for me; I once gave a boy a step-by-step tutorial on how to best apply lip gloss (completely unprompted?); the pink sparkly tie screams bisexuality. (A girl in a club once glanced at it and asked, “Are you a little bit gay?” I answered with an enthusiastic “Yes!” before we aggressively got off.
Easily the most niche technique on this list—and not one that’s easy to pull off. Maximum effort and unpredictable results make this the riskiest one here.
To clarify, this should involve nothing like putting something unexpected in people’s drinks (that’s called “spiking” and is a major violation—never do that). But there are, on occasion, opportunities for harmless mischief that can double as affective flirtation. For example, I once Dick-and-Dom-ed some people in a club. I now realise quite how much that sounds like an innuendo, but I promise you that Dick and Dom are harmless kids TV show hosts. They are familiar faces to any Brit who grew up watching CBBC—which accounts for the majority of my generation. One time, my friends and I had a CBBC-themed bop and two of my friends came as Dick and Dom. Part of their outfit was the hosts’ printed faces which they could stick on people. We went to a club afterward and remained in costume. This was the perfect opportunity to work some niche British humor into pulling. We spent much of the night sticking Dick and Dom on as many strangers as we could without them noticing. I’ll admit I self-sabotaged our pranking mission by targeting a particularly attractive boy who (thankfully) found our shenanigans very amusing, and we did successfully get off.
Women are discouraged from outwardly, and shamelessly, expressing desire for attention (sexual or otherwise). We are often the last to ask questions, or vocalize points, in larger meetings and classes which can make it really difficult to speak up even in informal settings. It’s taken me years to realize that I shouldn’t be embarrassed to just ask when I want something—be it clarification in class, something as simple as a cup of tea, or as complex as sex with someone I just met.
When it comes to all of these “pulling strategies”—for lack of a better phrase—it is crucial that, once you’ve successfully attracted the other party’s attention, you do ask before taking things further. To open with a question takes you directly from A to B, essentially cutting the bullshit and getting straight to the chase. Your choice of words could vary wildly from being as blunt as “shag me” to “excuse me, but I really would rather like it if you were to come home with me this evening.” Either way, never be afraid—or ashamed—to just ask.
By Alice Garnett
Cover Image by Kadar Small for Vice
Illustration by Ashley Boling