Keep WILD weird, but always ask consent
WILD is a rich tapestry of experiences. Any complete WILD must include, at the very least, one moment of mild to moderate exhilaration and no fewer than seven moments of disgust and/or despair.
Some of these crippling low points are just unavoidable, really. The opener will inevitably be a confusing cacophony of sounds that evoke a night terror you had once. End-of-week fatigue, mixed with that thing you drank at that one place that tasted like fruity Windex, will get to you. You will probably get stuck in the middle of that weird mosh pit in front of the stage with no viable escape routes. These are aspects of the WILD experience that we simply must accept.
Here is what we won’t accept this year: weird WILD touching. If you’ve been to WILD before, it’s doubtful you’ll need further clarification, but we’ll provide some anyway. This is not your standard consensual hookup dance fare. Oh, we all see you guys—those couples who have bonded over their mutual apathy for whoever is on stage and who have decided to take things to the next level—but, assuming you’re both into each other, that’s not what we’re talking about.
We’re talking about that phenomenon where you’re just standing in the crowd, doing your own thing, maybe even swaying a little bit to the synth beat that is almost 100 percent not suited to the venue, and then—lo and behold—a stranger is suddenly pressed up against you. As this stranger draws closer and closer, he may exhibit other behaviors, all of which are fascinatingly inappropriate and entirely unwanted: groping, with one or more hands; kissing, on a variety of bodily surfaces; grinding, at rates ranging from jackhammer fast to perplexingly slow; and whispering (example phrases: “Hey, babe. / You like that / Wanna go back to my twin bed?”).
Fun! Cool! Mysterious! Romantic! None of these are accurate descriptors of this moment. Actual thoughts more closely resemble one of the following: who is this unwelcome guest lurking in my shadows? Why is he so close to me? Can’t he feel how sweaty I am? Am I nothing more than a human magnet, luring unsuspecting prey to the irresistibly attractive parking spot that is my backside?
Most pertinently: why couldn’t he have asked?!
This strange, invasive behavior is probably not exclusive to the WILD habitat. It’s probably somewhat common in environments that feature hundreds upon hundreds of stressed-out young people mingling amongst each other in a buzzy drunken stupor, looking for a way to let off some figurative steam. To be clear: this is not an excuse, because regardless of what wonky factors are at play here, the situation is uncomfortable and, quite frankly, violating. It’s weird to be pressed up against, like you’re a wall or a human kickstand. It’s weirder to feel like the person doesn’t even care enough to ask whether you want to touch them or not.
Why does this always seem to happen? Perhaps some people are under the assumption that the targets of their WILD affection are driven wild by a foreign lap against their behind. I hope they aren’t. Regardless, it all comes back to the need for clear and enthusiastic consent when getting busy—whether in the bedroom, on the dance floor or in the sweaty floodlights of Brookings Quadrangle.
So, as we prepare to tackle our next WILD together, let this be something we can all agree on: WILD is rough enough as it is. We can make it better. Ask someone before you touch them. Isn’t it better to dance with someone who wants to, anyway? Together, we can create a WILD that’s only slightly uncomfortable.