Rants & Essays

Tarting For Beginners - Part 1

By Jennie Kermode

(1) What Is Tarting?

Tarting is the art of picking people up for the purposes of snogging them, taking them to bed or something else of that sort. It differs from being a slut in that the latter utilizes a passive approach. If necessary, I shall discuss slutting here in a later thread, though I would first like to extend an invitation to do so to Donald, who is rather more of an expert in that area than I.

Tarting is an active process and, therefore, does not require you to wait around on other people sweeping you off your feet. It requires some degree of courage and initiative, but if you have difficulties there are many tried and tested formulae to fall back on which will help you deal with tricky situations. Most of the art of tarting is simply about keeping the initiative and allowing your target enough space to back off while allowing yourself the space to accept rejection graciously and with good humour.

(2) Tarting in Clubs

Tarting in clubs or other loud venues requires a specific set of skills mostly associated with posture. Often, in a club, people will be unable to hear you very well (though you can take advantage of this to move in a little closer during conversation, and to conveniently pretend you didn't hear particular things, or to misinterpret them); it's also probable that they won't be able to see the details of your facial expression at all times. Therefore, body language is vital. You must let people see your most attractive qualities and you must let them know that you are interested in them.

Subtle qualities will not be so easily distinguished in most clubs, and especially not if your target has been drinking. Position yourself in such a way as to show off striking features (hair, hips, breasts, cheekbones, particularly slender or muscular arms, nice boots, long legs, tight trousers over the arse, etc.); always be aware of how the light is catching you and what it is making most visible. Most film stars look "better than real people" simply because they have good lighting. Sit directly beneath a white or blue spotlight with your chin tilted upwards for that Marlene forehead and cheekbone effect. Sit curled up where a revolving light makes you occasionally appear out of the shadows, splattered with strikingly coloured light, to show off shiny clothes. Find red, pink or purple lights and sway gently in and out of their edges to show off floaty clothes (which can also look good amid dry ice). I could go on, but I think you'll get the general idea. It's also good to be aware of how the light is catching you when you're dancing.

When you dance, make sure you are close to your target but not unpleasantly so. Don't crowd hir or go into his space unless you are invited to. Simply keep paying hir attention from time to time, and let hir see your best moves. Observe hir own style and the other people sie watches to distinguish what sie finds appealing, then see if you can adapt your own style in that direction.

If you haven't found a target for your tarting, that doesn't mean you can't start work. It can be good to wander around looking, but do it slowly, so that (a) you can look casual and confident, and (b) it's easy to stop and let your gaze linger in a particular direction when you see something you like. You can also look around on the dancefloor; this is often best accomplished while dancing slowly, or simply swaying about (use those hips) at one side, or lounging on a bar showing off the shape of your arms and boots (one leg slightly raised tends to draw the eye that way, especially if the lighting makes your boots shine a little). Don't be afraid of standing still as well; so long as you appear sure of yourself, people will just assume you're watching something or waiting for somebody; and you can take your time to look around and look moody.

The second stage of this tarting process, once you find a suitable target, is mostly about eye contact. Don't be afraid to stare at the person you want. If sie does not seem intimidated or pissed off by this, let your eyes slide across hir body to indicate that you are being appreciative.

Remember, the other reason people stare at one another in clubs is when they are trying to start fights. To make it clear that this is not what you are doing, send out a few passive or flirtatious signals by fluttering your eyelashes (slowly, steadily), blushing a little and hiding your face behind hair or a glass of drink from time to time, or looking away every now and then and smiling shyly. This will establish that you are not a threat.

Other people (worth speaking to) will not think it safe to approach you if you are looking stressed or really tense. Relax. You may not feel confident, but everything will happen much more easily if you can just convince yourself to put nervousness aside for the meantime.

If your target does not appear to feel threatened or uncomfortable on account of your attentions, walk past in such a way as to brush against hir, or happen to compliment hir on something like hair or clothing, or trip over near hir and then laugh at yourself for being an idiot, or use it as an excuse to talk about your boots, and get into a conversation that way. If you're feeling brave, just go over and ask if you can sit at hir table for a while because you're on your own or your friends have gone off elsewhere in the club and you're feeling lonely; you can say you overheard some bit of conversation (about a band, for instance) that caught your attention and sounded interesting; you can insist you've seen hir somewhere (particular) before. If you're feeling lucky, you can just go over and tell hir you think sie's cute. The trick here is to make sure that you can back off quickly if your company is not appreciated. If you fumble your approach, make that into a joke. People are less likely to feel threatened by you if you're looking a bit foolish and laughing at yourself. Take it easy, though, and don't go over the top with this - you don't want to embarrass your target.

Don't forget that there are other cute people out there. If you're rejected (or if your target turns out to be icky in some way), don't waste your time moping, go and flirt with somebody else.

When you're sitting next to your target, you'll want to concentrate on a more intimate level of tarting, which we shall discuss in the next of these posts, Tarting in Pubs and Parties.

(3) Tarting in Pubs and Parties

This section of the tarting course applies to finishing-off situations in clubs, too, except that in a club situation it is quite possible that speaking won't be possible or necessary.

In pubs and at parties, it is generally quite easy to get yourself into a position where you are sitting next to, or at least near (ideally within direct line of sight of) your target. Listen in to conversations among those people in a pub whom you vaguely know or who, at a party, you may not know at all, but have mutual friends you're all aware of (eg: the host). Find places where you can interrupt with your own anecdotes and jokes, or simply sit down and remark that something was interesting and you didn't know that. People who talk a lot will generally be most eager to talk to you if you ask them to explain things to you and thereby bow to their superior knowledge. People who are shy and don't know what to say themselves will often be relieved if you make conversation for them, though they'll also feel flattered and generally good about themselves if you create opportunities for them to join the conversation (eg: asking them where they got a tour t-shirt and extending that into a conversation about the band, or asking them about their hair and extending that into a general dye conversation.

Drinking games, purity tests and the like can provide good opportunities for tarting at parties, if you're feeling brave enough to abandon subtlety when necessary.

Move into your target's personal space just slightly, but be prepared to back off again if you get a bad reaction. The purpose of this course is to learn how to pull interested people, not to intimidate people. Casual physical contact, however, can easily seem accidental and non-threatening, especially if you're drunk (or doing a good impression of being drunk). At this point you have to observe how your target reacts. If sie draws back quickly, don't go there, or (if it's really important to you) at least give it some time and let everyone relax again. If sie stays firmly where sie is, or moves closer to you, this probably means that you are In There. In the latter case, repeat the contact, and, in the absence of objections, maintain it. At the next conversational opportunity (which can include the natural end of a period of silence), make eye contact with hir. This is your opportunity to tell hir you think sie's cute, to compliment something about hir appearance (remember, complimenting hair or make-up can be a good opportunity to gently stroke hir face, a gesture which establishes intimacy without the more aggressive or directly lecherous connotations of touching breasts or suchlike), or simply to smile and laugh and look away and back again; the latter works especially well if you can blush to order. If all this goes well, you should be able to lean over and kiss hir within a couple of minutes. If that works, and is clearly appreciated, do not hesitate to proceed into a proper snog.

All tarting advice of this type does require to be tailored to individual targets to some extent. If you're chasing a wide-eyed still-living-with-parents Promise Keeper, don't push too hard with the snogging thing. If you're chasing someone who starts making moves on you faster than you can keep up with them, just go with it, and don't worry about staying in control (beyond concern for matters medical, etc.); remember, then, that the opportunity to enter a relationship as a slut (rather than a tart) means you don't have to take so much blame when it all goes horribly wrong a few years later and you're fighting over who gets what from the album collection.

(4) Tarting in Ordinary Venues

Tarting does not, of course, have to be confined to clubs, pubs, parties and the like. Life offers opportunities for tarting all the time, whether you're walking down the street, going to the supermarket or waiting for a bus.

Supermarkets are particularly good locations for tarting, especially while you're still honing your basic skills. Lots of people go to supermarkets hoping to pick people up, as this constitutes the primary element of their social lives, sometimes their only chance to get out and about. Most of these people are middle-aged and middle class; if you go for that kind of thing, remember that you're a novelty to them, and use that to get their attention. On other occasions, lonely goths out doing their shopping will be pleased to see one of their own kind in such a mundane venue. Either of these situations mean that people will generally be easy to get into conversation with you. The best way to proceed from there is generally to ask if they're in a rush and then (if they're not) suggest going for a coffee together before taking the shopping home.

Lone goths, or small groups thereof, are often to be found hanging around in bus or train stations. Often they will be relieved to see a fellow goth whom they might talk to. Go over and say hello. Ask if you've seen them in the local club. Say where you're from and where you're going. It's usually easy to get into conversations this way. Sure, you'll probably have to part company immediately afterwards, but if you're smart then you can make arrangements to look out for each other in a particular club, or suchlike venue, at a later date.

Whatever else you do with your life, there are bound to be occasions when you just happen to see a cute goth wandering down the street, and you think, damn, if only I had the chance to talk to that person. Well, remember, sometimes that person will be thinking the same thing; sometimes you can achieve a mutually satisfying result by making eye contact and letting your gaze linger. Don't be afraid to follow people for a short distance. If this lasts for more than two blocks, give it up - you don't want to cause distress. If you're lucky, though, you'll find that the strange goth stops to wait for you before that, and you can get into conversation. If you are the one being followed, don't hesitate to stop and linger a while, smiling. Look directly at the goth following you but angle your gaze in such a way that if sie walks straight past you can pretend you were actually looking at someone else, waiting for a friend, or whatever.

More on this stuff will follow, when I have the time. I hope this keeps at least some of you happy for a while.