If you aren't a nightclub regular, it's easy to dismiss that scene as superficial, and therefore not worth examining, but according to photographer Dina Litovsky, it's for these exact assumptions that we shouldn't dismiss nightclubs; sometimes, things are not as simple as they seem.
In her series Meatpacking, Litovsky takes a critical look at Manhattan's notorious Meatpacking District and discovers a very specific social structure contained in the nightlife-centric neighborhood. People who seem superficial at first reveal themselves to be deeply self-conscious, while men and women both follow an implicit set of rules for how to behave and interact, seemingly for the purpose of finding some kind of physical connection at the end of the night.
"The space in between [the clubs] is like an airport terminal where everyone intermixes," Litovsky told Refinery29, as she described the "scantily clad" women, "gaping" men, street cart vendors, and tourists that fill the district at night.
The first time Litovsky visited this area of New York City, she felt like a total voyeur as she observed the activity on the street. After a few visits, she began to notice a pattern: At the beginning of the night, the "attitude" is more about being seen, she said. And inevitably, the interactions she witnesses become "looser and visibly sexual" until social norms — as well as respect for women's boundaries — seem to be forgotten.
"I have never witnessed such extent of catcalling in a public space — the unapologetic staring, whistling, commenting, and even grabbing," she said. "What was even more surprising is that such behavior seemed to be, if not encouraged, then tolerated and accepted as due."
"The way men would look over passing women to pick one out from the crowd seemed like an analog version of swiping left and right on Tinder," she said.
That said, Litovsky is less interested in making a sweeping statement about "hookup culture" than she is in observing how people behave in this tiny universe that seems to come alive only at night. As she puts it, it's a "cultural capsule" that's far from superficial — and very worth documenting.
Click through to see Litovksy's photos of the Meatpacking District after dark.