Stephanie’s Human Ethology Assignment


  • Place: Icon, Tuscaloosa
  • Time: Arrived at around 12 am. Left at 3:00 am.
  • People: There was a mix of early 20-somethings and middle-aged gay men. Not to mention a healthy dose of drag queens (Bambi was my favorite).
  • Ambience: The bar was very inviting. I noted how friendly the bouncer was at the door when he had to attach a band to my wrist to denote my age: “No! I was hoping I wouldn’t have to do that. Alcohol is gooood!” as he leaned backwards in an excited motion.

Focal Sampling:

By this point, Icon was pretty packed, so I hopped aboard the dancing stage to increase my chances of honing in on a subject. As I was standing there, half-heartedly swaying, I noticed a gorgeous fellow appear on stage, seemingly out of nowhere (Criss Angel, I’m onto your tricks). What made him stand out so was his apparent affinity for tweed jackets and his beard (mainly his beard; it was so uniform).

Trying not to be ousted as the true beard-lover that I am, I spent a few moments taking note of his actions. Although completely confident to mingle and mouth the lyrics to M.I.A. alone, he seemed to be scanning the stage for a receptive dance partner to share in the gyrating glory. Quickly enough, he found such a partner. She appeared to be in her early 20’s, pixie-cut, and very androgynous. As soon as GS Boyz’s “Stanky Leg” blasted, all bets were off. The attraction was there.

The song eventually ended and another began playing. After “Stanky Leg” having had ignited the flame, the pair engaged in sensual kissing. It beared a likeness to the mating of Gartner snakes, with their production of male and female pheromones. With the pair still intertwined, I honestly began wondering how long this odd pair could last. Her denim button-up became untucked, his pinstripe shirt ruffled… and as quickly as it began, it ended by the female subject’s stern: “I’ll be right back. I’ve gotta go to the bathroom.” She never came back.

Scan Sampling:

First Scan- The bar is comparable to a sardine can, people in every direction. I do notice a heavy influx of people at the bar, filing every seat. While looking in that direction, I notice a fellow go to the bar in an attempt to order a drink, however, his attempt is met with failure when the bartender does not notice him. He waits patiently for the remainder of the minutes to receive his drink,

Second Scan- By this point, I noticed everyone in the room seemed to be dancing. I tried to narrow my target to a group of girls who seemed to be lesbians. Of the four, there seemed to be two couples. Of said couples, one pair couldn’t seem to keep their eyes off one another. The wavy-haired woman kept a firm grasp over her lady as they swayed to the music. As for the other couple (right  next to them) they seemed a bit less entranced.

Third Scan- My next scan leads me to a sparkly drag queen talking to a gentleman off to the side, in front of the mirror. Flirtation is abound as smirks and tender touches run high. The drag queen gently rests her hand on the gentleman’s shoulder and whispers something into his ear. They both seem to be having an engaging conversation.

Fourth Scan- Two men dressed in suits (appearing to have arrived there separately) begin hugging. A third party pops up, waving a camera and makes a motion for the duo to kiss. The pair obliged and engage in a fairly long make-out sesh. The photog is pleased by this and flashes a big smile. Meanwhile, the pair end their passion in turn for some casual conversation. They likely were discussing their snazzy suits, because that’s what I would have done.

Analysis of Notes: 

I did observe the 5 stages of courtship in relation to the study. The beard-wielding fellow and his pixie-cut comrade both followed the five stages fairly exact. He began by getting her attention with his suave moves, her acknowledging him, them exchanging words, slight touch, and then completely to full body synchrony.

With that being said, not all couples or groups on the dance floor followed these steps. Some couple opted to skip stages two and three altogether. 15 minutes certainly makes it difficult to adequately observes all of these stages without missing steps. 

Author: Johnna Dominguez

Johnna Dominguez earned her BA in Interdisciplinary Studies: Cultural Studies and Body Politics from the University of Alabama's New College in May 2011. In her senior thesis, Johnna explored the embodiment of identity through sexuality and sports by observing and studying Alabama football fans and participants in the local burlesque troupe, the Pink Box Burlesque. In her Master's thesis, she is investigating the psychological and physical stresses associated with southern women who get tattoos. After completing her Master's in Anthropology, she hopes to return to school for a Master's in Public Health.

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