Did I commit a horrid social gaffe at a boyfriend's holiday work party?
January 15, 2012 6:58 AM   Subscribe

Did I commit a horrid social gaffe at a boyfriend's holiday work party?

The actual event went very well, but a group of us went to a bar afterwards for dancing. I got a tad tipsy and ended up "booty dancing" and "grinding" with my boyfriend. There wasn't a large crowd from his work, and most of the remaining few were European. I feel rather ashamed. I'm not sure if I embarrassed myself and my man. Was my behavior unacceptable, or will it be overlooked in light of the "holiday work party" atmosphere? I am in my early twenties.
posted by 200burritos to Human Relations (25 answers total)
It's your boyfriend's responsibility to maintain whatever level of professionalism he feels is necessary. It takes two to tango, as they say, so don't feel bad about it even if it was a mistake. It's more his fault than yours, don't let him blame you if he tries.
posted by Think_Long at 7:03 AM on January 15, 2012 [8 favorites]

You were at a bar AFTER the official work party, and you were dancing with your boyfriend, not some guy from accounting that you'd met an hour before.

I wouldn't make a habit of it, but I don't think you did anything particularly scandalous.

Did your boyfriend say something to you?
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:04 AM on January 15, 2012 [16 favorites]

Probably inappropriate and certainly embarrassing but I think "unacceptable" is going a bit too far. How old were the other attendees and how tipsy did they get. Most likely they've already forgotten about it, you should too.
(also, europe is a large and varied place, saying they're european is fairly meaningless in this context - I'm assuming you mentioned they're european because they have the reputation for being less sexually repressed)
posted by missmagenta at 7:05 AM on January 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

It really depends on the office in question, but I don't think getting drunk at your boyfriend's office Christmas party and "booty dancing" in your early twenties is a terrible crime. Somebody else probably groped the boss or barfed at the coat rack.

Once people "go out afterwards for dancing" the behavioral code devolves a little, and furthermore, sounds like your boyfriend actively participated. Next time, maybe fewer drinks and more food at office holiday parties (and maybe you and the boyfriend could work together on that) but other than that, I'd say go and sin no more.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 7:05 AM on January 15, 2012 [10 favorites]

I agree with Think_Long that it is equally his responsibility...

As to whether the two of you committed a gaffe, it really depends on Geography (less likely in LA, more likely in Ohio), industry (less likely in Advertising, more likely in Banking), and corporate culture.
posted by LittleMy at 7:06 AM on January 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

Odds are that you're feeling way more awkward about this than everyone else.

Look, I've done that shit before whilst imbibing the alcohol. If you're fretting over it, perhaps throw down some apologies to your boyfriend, ask him to relay them to his friends should it get mentioned, and carry on.

In my case, incidents like this usually lead to some introspection and a little amending of how much I let myself drink when out with certain people. Personally, if I witnessed something like this and indeed find it to be unacceptable, I'd chalk it up to the holiday work party atmosphere you mentioned and let it go if it wasn't behavior I saw someone repeating over and over again.

I don't know that it's your boyfriend's job to babysit you when you drink because the work affair was HIS (in truth, you're an adult and it's your job to recognize situations and govern yourself accordingly so it's not far to say, "Hey bro, YOU should have told me to be an adult and take it down a notch!") but I'd think that if he had an issue with your behavior he'd have mentioned it.
posted by youandiandaflame at 7:08 AM on January 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

Woops... hit post before finishing...
Unless you are in the midwest at a conservative company with a conservative corporate culture you should be Ok. Embarrassed yes, horrible gaffe, no. Your early twenties is a time for learning -- such as how much you can drink at an office social event before you embarrass yourself. :-)

I'm sure, other than a little good natured teasing, this whole thing will be forgotten in a month if it hasn't already.
posted by LittleMy at 7:10 AM on January 15, 2012

I was sure when this question started out that it was going to end up with you making a racist comment to your boyfriend's boss... Instead, you've left the party, you're at a bar with friends, and you're grindy-dancing with your own boyfriend? You've got nothing to be embarrassed about. As someone said above, probably best not to make a habit of it, but one time after the holiday party is all in good fun and just not a big deal.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:20 AM on January 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

Even if they're bankers in Ohio, I don't think it's a huge deal. If you'd actually been at the office party, it would have been inappropriate, but the rules change when you go to a club afterwards. I wouldn't repeat that performance next year, but I don't think you have to be mortified.
posted by craichead at 7:43 AM on January 15, 2012

If anyone considers what you did to be in any way antisocial, the problem is with them, not you. Provided the bar was vaguely busy and the music was reasonably loud, the worst case scenario is a bit of embarrassment.

It sounds like you and your boyfriend had a fun evening! No need to apologise for being a bit extroverted every once in a while, ha. :D
posted by jaffacakerhubarb at 8:04 AM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Was my behavior unacceptable, or will it be overlooked in light of the "holiday work party" atmosphere?

The holidays ended two weeks ago, why worry about it now? What's done is done and more than likely, his co-workers are busy with work. Otherwise, I have no idea. Neither does anyone else on MetaFilter.

A crowd of strangers on the internet, who don't know your boyfriend or his office, nor the specific group that went to the bar, can't give you an answer here. It's possible you embarrassed him. It's also possible he's getting high fives for having such a hawt woman. It's possible 4 out of 5 people in the bar group thought it was amusing, while the fifth was horrified. The fifth could be fiercely talking about the scene with their non office friends, 'cause they're professional or gossiping with office mates who weren't at the bar. You don't know and it's possible your boyfriend won't ever know unless he walks into room of co-workers and the giggling suddenly stops and everyone looks embarrassed. Even then, you still have no idea whether they were laughing about him and that specific incident or the discovery that Bob the accountant's secret S&M website.

In short, talk to you boyfriend about this, see what he says. To avoid all this worry in the future, you and he can avoid doing getting freaky among the office crowd.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:09 AM on January 15, 2012

European here, fairly conservative sector of accountancy - what has happened at all my work dos is that the rules very much go out of the window after the official bit of the evening is over, especially after you have left the official venue. So I would not worry unduly. The stuff that gets gossiped about is people getting off with one another who really shouldn't be and people getting drunk and giving the boss a piece of their mind not a couple dancing.
posted by koahiatamadl at 8:10 AM on January 15, 2012 [5 favorites]

If you flipped up your skirt and actually had sex on the dance floor then yes, horrible gaffe, if not- don't worry... just don't do it again- next work do show yourself the poised lady you are and laugh about how naughty you were... (naughty once in a while is okay) just pepper the naughtiness.
posted by misspony at 9:58 AM on January 15, 2012

Are you sure you were grinding that booty on your boyfriend?

If so, not a problem. He was there. He could have stopped you.
posted by rokusan at 10:50 AM on January 15, 2012

I have heard much more interesting stories about my SO's coworkers. And she's an accountant. Yes, twentysomething accountants in big firms get freakin' nuts after work. If they can get away with it in that profession, known far and wide for its conservative appearance, you have nothing to worry about.
posted by wierdo at 12:41 PM on January 15, 2012

I feel rather ashamed. I'm not sure if I embarrassed myself and my man. Was my behavior unacceptable, or will it be overlooked in light of the "holiday work party" atmosphere?

You have a greater responsibility to watch your behavior during the actual office party, where you're a guest of the company solely because of your relationship with your boyfriend. But if he feels like you two need to continue to be on some version of "office party decorum," at a club afterward because a few co-workers are present, he needs to step up and guide you as to his social comfort zone in that situation.

If this sort of thing is out of character for you, period, I can empathize with you for feeling a bit embarrassed that your boyfriend's co-workers saw it. But shake it off and don't torture yourself, because you were on your own time here.
posted by desuetude at 12:42 PM on January 15, 2012

It sounds like what you were doing wouldn't have felt out-of-place in that bar at that time if his coworkers hadn't been present, right? Then unless there's some other element you haven't mentioned, this seems totally fine to me.

Just in case your boyfriend is concerned about how he presents himself at work, ask him if he was bothered by it. He probably wasn't, and I agree that it's his responsibility to let you know how he wants you to behave at company functions, but if you're worried— ask. Then put it out of your mind.
posted by hattifattener at 1:07 PM on January 15, 2012

Another vote for totally fine from a Brit. What you do at a bar after a party is you and your boyfriends business. Sounds like a great night.
posted by merocet at 3:01 PM on January 15, 2012

Your boyfriend still has his job, yes? And he hasn't been reprimanded, no? And people aren't treating him strangely at work? If so, then this really isn't your problem. It takes two to booty dance.

But that doesn't really answer the question. Is it a social gaffe? Yeah, maybe a little bit. Is it the sort of social gaffe people warn you about during holiday parties? Not if you didn't curse anyone out, break down, vomit, sleep with anyone taken, or go further than dirty dancing in public. This guide might also be helpful (the cool/uncool part) if a bit after the fact.

(Disclosures: every work party I've been to has been in workplaces that're beyond super-casual. I've worked in offices that'd get company-wide emails along the lines of 'hey, so whoever owns this pair of underwear should probably pick it up.' So take my comments accordingly.)
posted by dekathelon at 3:50 PM on January 15, 2012

Probably depends on the culture of the office and also the people involved. At any of the places I've worked? I mean, maybe it would become the source of some good-natured teasing, but not much more than that. I mean, if it had happened at the event itself, that would have been a different thing. But at a separate location? After (I presume) everybody had been drinking? I'd call them uptight prudes if they did look askance at you and your boyfriend.

But yeah, generally don't want to make a habit of this sort of thing, as I generally think of grinding/booty dancing to be kinda tacky regardless of who you're with, unless you're in a dark place like a club or something.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:22 PM on January 15, 2012

Compared to some of the things Ive seen at office parties I'd say you didn't do anything that crazy.

I would be more embarrassed if I couldn't walk straight upon exit of the "actual party venue" or I was sick in view of the boss / managers or worse still, I had an argument with bf in front of his work colleagues. At least you were having fun!

As per everyone others advice here, let it go from your mind, try not to do it again in those situations and maybe check on how to address any embarrassment your bf is experiencing with him directly.

There is probably some etiquette on how to apologise / make light of it, to those specific colleagues (i.e. sending them something cool to the office) if your bf agrees and is having a hard time about it. Then again you might want to not bring attention to it in the work environment, especially if they too were drunk and likely to forget, in that case you may need to work overtime when you next see them to be both cautious and charming.
posted by Under the Sea at 4:56 PM on January 15, 2012

n He's your BOYFRIEND. Good for you guys getting your wiggle on and having fun!

If you went a bar AFTER the original party, I'm betting everyone was so sloshed, they don't remember a damn thing about it. At worst, you made your man look pretty desirable:))

I know that feeling. But now that I'm older, I think you're OK. If your man says nothing, just keep it more restrained you see these folks. If you made a habit of this, then you'd be making yourself a subject for gossip.

(Or admiration, depending on the crowd....;)
posted by jbenben at 7:04 PM on January 15, 2012

The only good thing about work parties is that people drink too much and get a little inappropriate. Even if a coworker gave your boyfriend some ribbing afterwards, you should be proud: You made one of life's annoyances a little more fun and bearable.
posted by coolguymichael at 9:59 AM on January 16, 2012

I'm just gonna throw this out there that unless you work for, like, the Salvation Army, everyone now thinks your boyfriend is pretty cool and you're pretty cool and they forgot about the whole thing like immediately.
posted by GilloD at 11:05 AM on January 16, 2012

After hours is after hours: no worries.

I once attended a company party at the New England Aquarium -- including an open bar and then a live sealion show. This ruled. We were all ejected shortly thereafter and most of party reconvened a few blocks away at a bar near Faniueiueiueil Hall. A while after that in a different bar a colleague was wearing a sombrero and had secured a pineapple. There was muted laughter about it on Monday, but certainly no one held it against him -- because we'd all made a choice to be there after the main event (including the top three execs).
posted by wenestvedt at 12:26 PM on January 18, 2012

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