The Sexist

Groping at Cobalt, Consensual and Otherwise


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Is there a more grope-centric nightlife destination in the District of Columbia than Cobalt? Out of the dozens of groping stories reported to the Sexist over the past couple of months, two highly non-consensual groping incidents took place inside the Dupont Circle gay bar. In one incident, a man latched onto a woman and didn't let go until he ejaculated. In another, a man groped another guy's genitals without warning and offered to pay him for sex. When the grope recipient informed the groper that he was "straight but flattered," the groper told him that straight men had no place on Cobalt's high-contact dance floor.

Now: Two gropes does not a Gropetown make. But as far as the Sexist's limited source material is concerned, Cobalt is outstripped only by the Metrorail system in the frequency of gropes reported in the location. The reason is pretty obvious: Unlike the Red Line, Cobalt is a popular hangout for folks who are actually into the whole groping thing.

One Craigslist user admits he's into Cobalt grabbing:

cobalt

I was standing just to the right of the entrance of the upstairs dance bar talking with friends, you came in with a group and walked between my friends and I and groped me as you walked past.....you should have said something.... hit me up.

Some D.C. clubbers have found themselves pleasantly surprised by a surprise grope; other bar-hoppers plan their groping activities well in advance. In another Craigslist posting, a man seeks a partner-in-groping for a night out at D.C.'s bars:

cobalt2

Passing through DC, bi and no gf with me... need another cool masc guy, prefer vgl, masc and hung, to go clubbing with Saturday night (only). Get drunk, help eachother pick up, grope a few guys, and who knows, end up togther or share together :-) be tall, masc hung, vgl, pic and -34 Be good in social settings but not flamers pls

So: How does a venue like Cobalt walk the line between accommodating those men who want to have a good time touching each other, while providing a safe space for those patrons—gay, straight, male, and female—who aren't interested in the genital assault? After all, Cobalt's permissive dance floor isn't solely employed to engineer gay hook-ups; in at least one instance, a straight man picked Cobalt as his venue for sexually assaulting a straight woman.

I posed the non-consensual groping question to Cobalt general manager Mark Rutstein last month. I have yet to hear back.

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