Danny’s Human Ethology Assignment

Location: Black Market Bar & Grill, Birmingham

Day: Saturday 23rd 2013

Time: approximately 6:30 p.m.

Started assignment

Environment overview:

When I walked into the bar, mysight diminished somewhat. The lights were dim, not near pitch dark, but enough to blend color shades together. The whole place was relatively small andthe bar table layout formed a reverse “L” while the rest of the room contoured to the same shape. Multi-colored lights hung right above the bar setting, illumining the chairs under it. A couple of T.V sets played either sports related shows or The Big Bang Theory. Under the televisionswere the refrigerators that held all the alcohol. Booths were position along the wall with tables adjacent to them, all going further deeper into the room.I had sat down with my older sister, who accompanied me, at the booth closet to the door. Sitting down Iobserved all the B movie memorable posters and art that lined the walls.Adding to the décor, the table tops had pages from comic books lacquered to it. Metal type music played constantly, emitting most of the sound in the bar on the account only one other group was present at that time. The people who were there before us occupied the back most booth. Two were males and the other two female. Both sets dressed in casual clothing.

Started Focal Sample

Time: 7:17 p.m.

More people had entered the bar, mostly middle aged adult couples, but also a few younger single adults. One man in particular, somewhere in his 20’s, sat alone near the back. He had short shaggy hair and a dark colored shirt. His posture was sluggish: back hunched, head hung low, and an overall sullen sense. Every so often he would sip from his beer and look around. His attention turned occasionally to new people coming in. In a sudden action the gloomy guy tries to get the bar tenders attention. Once the bar tender took notice, itlooked as if he wanted to order something else. The bar tender looks in the frigid containing alcoholand talks back to gloomy guy who reaches in his pocket for what I assume is his wallet. They talk back and forth for a few seconds and then he puts what he had back in his pocket. After looking around for another second he gets up and briskly walks to the front of the bar to my left. He says something towards one of the bar tenders who was busy getting a drink for someone else. I could not tell if he had got an answer because more people had sat at the bar and kept the two bar tenders quite busy. Once done speaking, the gloomy guy walked straight out the door, leaving his beer behind. He did not come back.

End Focal Sample – Assignment ended prematurely due to observed individual leaving

Time: 7:21 p.m.

Total Time Observed: 4 minutes

Started Scan Sample

Interval 1

Time: 7:24 p.m.

During this time the place had begun to get busy. Fiddling with her smart phone,a blonde haired woman in about her 30’s sat alone at the back of the bar table. Three girls in their early 20’s occupied the booth right in front of me and my sister. Two young males looking at the menu sat at the middle positioned table across from the booth with the group of girls. Directly parallel to us and sitting at the tables was a middle aged couple.

Interval 2

Time: 7:29 p.m.

A new guy pulls a seat next to the smart phone lady. Both begin to talk to each other frequently. The middle aged couple next to me talked very little, both retained no apparent livelihood at all. Everyone around the bar continues to talk as more people enter. The place is more crowed.

Interval 3

Time: 7:31 p.m.

I easily spotted an enthusiastic individual who sat at the corner front of the bar table. He had thick curly, dark hair and wore a jacket. Apparently he was either happy at the sports game on the TV. or just jolly from conversation he was having with the bar tender. At one point he pumped both his arms up and down. Smart phone lady had become closer to the new guy who recently acquainted her. In addition, he had his smart phone out while engaging in conversation with her. He would also playfully mess with her. She responded to his actions with smiles and laughter. Another middle aged guy wrapped his arm around a woman of about the same age.

Interval 4

Time: 7:36 p.m.

The enthusiastic guy hive fives the bar tender and talks to a man with a red baseball cap on who sits next to him. A middle aged couple joins the other couple at the table right beside me and everyone there seem to lively up some with the additional company. Smart phone lady continues happy conversation with the same guy.

End Assignment

Time 7:39 p.m.


The right setting to see most “pick-ups” was not optimal during this time. It was still too early as a higher influx of people came when I left. Most who came into Black Market were middle aged couples and young adults groups. There were a few singles that mixed in with rest. Unfortunately my focal individual left before he initiated the first step in the “five-part pickup”. More promising was the smart phone lady and hermale friend. While only observed during the scan sample, those two individuals demonstrated courting signals the most. At the moment the guy first approached the women with the smart phone he gestured towards her as he pulled out a chair. I was able to observe four out of five elements in human ethology assignment.

Step One: Attention getting was achieved by the guy when he approached.

Step Two: Recognition was receivedby the woman. Both made eye contact.

Step Three: Talk was sustained during most of the time.

Step Four: Touching was definitely seen throughout the observation by the guy. (playfully poking and touching)

While I did not stay longer, there was still a potential for the smart phone lady and the guy to have achieved the last step, total body synchrony. Fifteen minutes was enough to observe at least 4 steps and with a greater length of time maybe even step five. Only once did my observer take any notice of me and look in my direction (smart phone lady), but nothing caused her to have any intense suspicion. Better observation skills might be: finding different vantage points, making better notes of what people are wearing, keeping track of observed people in my notes, and concentration on the subtle cues of courtships.

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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