A History of Grinding

An analysis of the popular style of dancing.

-Written by Paul Gogliormella

I have been fascinated by grinding since the first time I was exposed to it in a dirty New Brunswick basement.  Some people experienced this in high school, but I was late to the grinding phase. I didn't really know what it was all about until I first came to college, and the sight was jarring.  

For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, grinding is a dance between two people, typically a male and a female.  What the dance consists of is the women "grinding" her buttocks on the pelvic region of the male recipient.  Thats it.  Thats the whole dance.

Is this an oversimplification? Absolutely. There can be other variables: perhaps the man's hands are on the girl's waist, perhaps they sway back and forth, perhaps they slowly get lower to the ground, the list goes on.

 The ultra rare group grind! Wow!

The ultra rare group grind! Wow!

What I was more amazed with was how prevalent this dance is/was.  If you entered a college basement party you would see people doing this dance by THE THOUSANDS.  Whats even more amazing is how nonchalantly this dance was initiated.  Guys would go up to girls they NEVER MET BEFORE IN THEIR LIVES and just grab their waist and start grinding.  The girl would then flip her hair to one side of her head, look over her shoulder, and see if this male suitor is attractive enough to keep grinding with.  If he passed the "look over the shoulder test" they'd continue dancing and the sky's the limit.  If he fails, the girl would walk back into the protection of her female pack, while the male left to find a potential new mate.  Very primal.

Could you imagine seeing that in a grocery store?  You see a young woman in the produce department debating if she wants red onions or yellow onions, when a young man appears from behind, grabs her waist and starts swaying back in forth.  She looks over her shoulder, figures he'll do, and they grind for 15 minutes while Levels by Avicii plays on a loop.

Ridiculous right?  Well I've always thought so, so I decided to do a little research on where or how exactly grinding started.

Wikipedia states, "A predecessor to grinding as a sexually charged high-contact social dance was 'The Bump', popular in the 1970s, in which the contact between partners generally involved the hips or buttocks of one dancer 'bumping' those of the other dancer in temporary contact."


To be honest I'm not totally sure I buy this correlation.  Seems like too far of a jump in time to be related.  I'm not quite sure if people bumping hips in the 70s is why people in the 2000's rub butt on pelvis.  

Wikipedia goes on to say, "Grinding gained widespread popularity as a hip hop dance in night clubs, and eventually moved on to high school and middle school dances (especially proms) in the US and Canada where there have been cases of administrators attempting to ban it due to its explicit nature."

This makes more sense, but it still doesn't give me all the answers I'm looking for.  Way more research need to be done.  I need to know who the first people to ever grind were and what they were thinking.  If anyone has any leads, you know where to find me.