For 13-year-olds, the stakes are always high. But never are the stakes more brutal than at a middle school dance. Fluorescent hallway lights seep into the gym ballroom, threatening to reveal the pimples on the faces of the pubescent crowd cowering in the corners. And for a particular brown-haired girl with little to no fashion or social sensibility, those dances meant hovering around the outside of the bobbing dancers, heart beating.

Being asked to dance meant something. First, “Hello, world, I’ve made it!” and then, “Hello, every other mousy girl in this room, I hit puberty earlier than you!” The girls who had really made it swayed back and forth with their arms around the boys’ necks, slouching just a little to make up for a disparity in height, and the brown-haired girl wished more than anything in the world that she would suddenly be graced by the need to buy a tampon, or a training bra.

But her first high school dance was different. One boy had decided that he was finally mature enough to have a dance party of his own for his 15th birthday. So to his dark-green, carpeted basement tromped a mass of tittering girls clinging to each other in half-inch heels. When the single slow song of the evening, “Stickwitu,” finally came on the speakers as parents’ SUVs pulled up in the driveway, the brown-haired girl in deliberately overly tight jeans still hovered, hoping. And then, halfway through the breathy Pussycat drawl, “I don’t wanna go another day,” a miracle. “D’youwannadance?” She did. But when he placed his palms halfway up her back, she felt the sweat of his hands seeping through her T-shirt.

For 21-year-olds at Toad’s, the stakes are significantly less life-or-death. One brown-haired 21-year-old had been asked to dance many times. Or, not asked to dance, as the case may be, but rather approached from behind and thrust into proper grind position. Freshman year, she might have paid more attention to the bodies approaching from behind, but now that she was an elite senior lady, she understood what it was to practice the proper amount of Toad’s discretion. And so it was that Woad’s became her watering hole, where she was determined to practice the art of “SWAG,” not “SWUG,” on a weekly basis.

This Woad’s was ostensibly like every other, and with their dance moves, a group of senior women preached some Miley, “to my home girls here with the big butt, shakin’ it like we’re at a strip club.” And it was then, with these words on her lips and the sticky hands of a sophomore boy on her hips, that the 13-year-old girl from the gym had an epiphany. She peeled off the palms of the unidentified male behind her and turned to find her girl friends. Rejecting the Pussycat Dolls’ praise for monogamy, Miley’s words resonated deep in her senior soul, “Remember only God can judge us, forget the haters, cause somebody loves ya.” Hello, world, she’s made it!