Minus the City: Welcome to the Dark Side

I’m sure many of us remember the 2011 New Boyz and Chris Brown hit “Better With the Lights Off.” If you were a 14-year-old girl like I was, dancing to this song in some basement with a recently cootie-less and newly appealing boy, you probably didn’t pay much attention as “Firework” or “Party Rock Anthem” took its place. But if you had truly listened to the lyrics, you would’ve discovered that the song is about a guy wanting, let’s be honest, what most guys want: sex. 

What’s interesting about this song is the assumption that if the lights are off, “things” are bound to happen. But why is this the case? Why does electricity, something invented to make life easier, actually make things harder, intimidating and awkward? Clearly, Thomas Edison didn’t think about how his light bulb would affect his game.

Whether in the presence of the Jug’s dim wall sconces or the colored lasers flashing against the walls of most frat basements, your best friend for the night turns into a dark, faceless figure. While the lack of visibility can become an issue when you lose your wingman to a sea of kids in neon spandex (which, trust me, is inevitable), it is also the optimal environment for flirting with a total stranger. 

The fact that this really hot guy – well at least I think he’s really hot – can’t see the pimple on my face, my frizzy hair (a result of the cloud of humidity created by a room of sweaty, drunk kids) or the super attractive beer stain on the front of my shirt, makes me much more confident.

First impressions, whether we care to admit it or not, play a key role in determining our initial attraction. Unless you share a class with a cute guy or girl and strike up a conversation (and if you do, props to you), these impressions often happen at parties, at night, in the dark. The whole “lights off” atmosphere, one that Brown promotes in his song, allows for fearless flirtation and a carefree attitude that solidifies that killer first impression. 

To those who say lights have nothing to do with your ability to suck it up and talk to that cute junior across the room, try imagining this scenario at Frank. Granted alcohol consumption is a large eraser of that self-consciousness and insecurity that we all possess, but even so, walking up to a cute guy at the omelet station, introducing yourself and striking up a conversation, in broad daylight, in front of a line of spectators (let’s face it, that omelet line can be brutal) is almost unimaginable. Am I right, ladies? But the comfort of near-darkness, when nobody can see if you do or say anything embarrassing, is a far more conducive environment for these first time interactions. 

Now I’m not saying that we are incapable of having these interactions in the presence of a 60-watt bulb. Rather, I’ve found that the release of pressure that comes with dimming the lights allows interactions to be more genuine and uninhibited, instead of an exchange of generic, polite small talk.  

While darkness can be our best friend in some cases, it also unfortunately allows for those sloppy, out-of-sync dance floor hook-ups. So my public service announcement for the day goes out to those of you who decide to go at it a foot away from my face: no matter how dark it is, we can all still see you.