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The Dartmouth
May 22, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Dance Floor Make Out? It’s more likely than you’d think.

One writer chronicles the funny, sometimes messy Dartmouth phenomena of the DFMO.

DFMO NEWSPAPER Design.jpg

Updated on Feb. 8 at 2:40 p.m.

In light of Valentine’s Day’s swift approach, I think it’s only right to tackle the most romantic Dartmouth phenomenon of them all: kissing complete strangers in frat basements. 

Sarcasm aside, dance-floor-make-outs — commonly referred to by the acronym “DFMO” — are not especially romantic. However, DFMOs are prevalent on campus, whether we like it or not. Many of us are familiar with the protocol:

  1. Enter low-lit, odd smelling room with friends (bonus points if the floor is sticky)
  2. Dance to 2013 pop hits
  3. Find a stranger
  4. Dance with said stranger
  5. Make out with said stranger (or a different one, if that’s your vibe)

After having involuntarily witnessed DFMOs multiple times, I’ve started to ask questions about why they happen in the first place. What is it about frat basements that lowers our inhibitions? Is it the music? The dampness in the air that never seems to go away? The alcohol?

I would guess that a large part of it is the alcohol. But I asked my (anonymous) peers anyway, to get a sense of what they thought about their DFMO experiences the morning after.

J ’26 was the first person I spoke to, and he was more than happy to explain the circumstances that led to the three DFMOs he’s had since coming to Dartmouth — all of which happened in the same night.

“I was pretty drunk,” he said almost immediately. 

I nodded along, already invested in where this story was going.

“[My friend] tells me to go dance on the table,” he said. “I’m at the point where Keystone tastes like water. So I’m like ‘Yeah, sure.’ I’m about three feet away from the table, and this girl points to me and she’s like ‘You.’ And I look at her.”

The rest follows the protocol that I mentioned earlier. But there’s a twist in this student’s account that I didn’t see coming.

“I [made] out with her, and then she [introduced] me to her friend. Then I started making out with her friend.” 

“It’s really weird now that I’m thinking about it,” he admitted. “I think she was in my [Sexual Violence Prevention Project] last night.”

While this student’s experiences all happened in quick succession, the sporadic nature of each encounter seems to be a common occurrence for those who DFMO. The intention of most people is to go out and have fun with friends on nights out; DFMOs just happen along the way.

In other cases, people go into a night with their intentions clear. E ’26 said that she decides what her goals are at the beginning of the night. 

“It’s my intention to hook up with someone or it’s not,” E ’26 said. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, I don’t hook up with someone if I say I’m not going to.”

A ’25 also noted that her experiences with DFMOs — of which she’s had two — were not really planned.

“I was intoxicated and therefore did not have a filter or any sort of boundaries,” she said. “I didn’t really know the person [the first time], which was a little bit awkward…. I went out with friends and ended up not with a group of friends.” 

That’s another thing: Where do friends fall in the DFMO scenario? Do they stand on the sidelines and let their friends make moves on the dance floor? Or do they intervene when they think that their friend might make a mistake?

The response can vary depending on the friend group. J’s friends had a more active role in his experiences. 

“I [had] all my boys down there surrounding the table, cheering me on,” he said, mostly joking. He also noted that one of his friends actively tried to stop him. “My friend took my phone away as I was going to give someone my snap. She was trying to save me and I had no idea.”

E ’26 has heard of less supportive experiences.

 “I know people that have experienced [DFMO] and it’s been fine. But also, I know people who have [taken] pictures [to say] ‘you were making out with this person’ and that’s not fine,” she said.

The only thing that was unanimous among all of the people that I spoke to was that each of them regretted at least one of their DFMO experiences. 

“One of the times I had no idea [that it happened],” E ’26 said. “In the morning my friend told me ‘Oh yeah, you made out with this hot guy and then you went upstairs with him.’ I don’t remember any of that.”

J ’26 also struggled to remember one of his experiences. “I regret the girl I don’t remember. I didn’t remember her name. I danced with her for like fifteen minutes and I just didn’t ask her.”

A ’25’s reason for a regrettable DFMO was a little different. 

“The last time, I lost my Apple watch. It fell on the ground,” she said.

Dance-floor-make-outs almost guarantee a memorable experience for the participants and an entertaining story for their friends. In light of the many things that may go wrong, each DFMO-er encouraged taking a nuanced attitude towards the phenomenon.

“I feel like it’s becoming more normalized,” J ’26 said. “It does pose the ethical question of not-sober people making out.”

A ’25 also mentioned the potential drawbacks of DFMOs becoming more common.

“I don’t see [DFMOs] happening frequently. But also I feel like hookup culture here is extremely casual and extremely prevalent,” she said. “It’s fine if DFMO is normalized… but it could lead to situations where there’s a lack of consent or just creepy situations.”

The uncertainty surrounding consent in hookups of any kind is always a conversation worth having. Anything involving drunk people is bound to be messy, and what might be interpreted as interest by one person could mean something completely different to another. While it is funny to hear about the weird experiences that come with each DFMO, it’s also important to be vigilant about the strange, and sometimes non-consensual, occurrences that may take place on the dance floor.

As a general rule of thumb: When DFMO-ing, make sure that the person you’re with is into it, try to remember their name and help them find their Apple watch if they happen to lose it.