What the Ass Eating at TomorrowWorld Says About American Dance Culture
Why is public sex at Berghain considered a political act, but not at a festival in the US?
Before TomorrowWorld washed away in a flood of Biblical proportions on Saturday night, and with it the sins of a generation, the Atlanta-adjacent EDM festival was the talk of the Internet for much more savory reasons: namely the below NSFW photo, which was posted on Facebook and went immediately viral.
If you skipped that week in elementary school health class, what's going on above is commonly referred to as a "rimjob," and scientifically referenced as "analingus." It is taking place, allegedly, in the crowd at TomorrowWorld, and social media started blowing up with this photo late on Saturday evening. The reactions to the photo have ranged from disgust to elation and have sparked a debate on whether or not this kind of thing is appropriate at a festival.
As eloquently stated by Seth Troxler in his article 'Dance Music Festivals Are The Best And Worst Place on Earth,' we walk a fine line at the rave between freedom and idiocy. According to Seth, the distinguishing feature isn't content (eating ass in public), but context. He describes a scene at Berghain in Berlin where, "There was this big bear of a dude in assless leather chaps and a leather harness on the dance floor. I was playing 'Yellow' and when he bent over, this other guy came over and starts eating his ass. Everyone around them was just dancing and being all cool. I was like '...that's interesting.' But that's a revolt against the world. That's the freedom of the club. Falling in mud and getting cake thrown at you? That's not freedom."
So where does consensual ass eating in the mud at a fest fall on that Troxler scale? Why is a European bear acting more "appropriately" than this young man and woman captured in an intimate moment? Does the rachetry of their revolt against the world outweigh the beauty of it? I don't believe that it does.
Maybe the Berghain-going crowd is more worldly in their party experience and thus more mentally prepared to witness this kind of scene. The fact that the above photo hit Facebook as the young-raver-salad-tossing was likely still in progress should tell you that the entry-level American dance-fest crowd isn't ready for this level of sexual freedom. But how will they ever be without brave pioneers like these two crazy kids paving the way?
Freedom, sexual or otherwise, is considered a political act in the darker recesses of Berghain, where queer culture has lead the way in aggressively unfurling conservativism behind the tightly guarded club's doors. Amidst the neon-glittered brouhaha of American festival culture, though, public sex is just a spectacle to be ogled at, chewed up and spit out like a mangled pacifier in the mouth of a teenage Steve Aoki fan gurning her way through her first parking lot rave. It has no meaning, it's not political. But maybe it's time that it should be.
I've never had my ass eaten while on drugs in a festival crowd, but I'll bet I've been missing out. Further, I'd be willing to bet that most anyone reading this article would be thrilled to be on the receiving end of this glorious scene if they could only release their hang-ups on common decency and basic sanitation. If a young Foxy Troxy were coming on the scene now, EDMing in America for the first time in the mucky-muck with a bunch of college kids, I'll bet he'd be on his knees at the main stage eating ass with the best of them. Even if nobody else in all of the estimated 190,000 Tomorrowworld total-weekend attendees was ready for it, these two clearly were, and I say they're the real MVP's for fearlessly setting a new standard for extreme rave behavior.
Conclusion: eating ass at the fest is cool in my book. There's been a lot of talk about the American palate moving beyond "EDM" and towards deeper, headier climes. That sort of thing doesn't happen overnight in one monolithic turn towards the light (or the dark). It's a series of battles against societal conventions (be they musical or sexual), and that North Face-clad lad with his tongue deep in that girl's swampy, campsite-flavored backvaj is EDM's battle of Antietam. There's very little neon in this picture. That's no coincidence. That girl's bumhole is the coalmine, the guy's tongue is the canary, and the message is clear: "EDM is over, you should listen to techno."
Besides, if the rave starts turning into an orgy, just think of all the VIP upgrades promoters will be able to sell. Toyota Prius Orgy-dome all access pass: $499 for the weekend, sex toy vendors on-site peddling LED vibrators at 40% markup, condom and lube sponsorship opportunities up the wazoo. Savage is the new PLUR, fam, and I hope you're carrying wet wipes.
This is Molly Hankins' first story for THUMP