DNCE Performs (and Grind on Debra Messing) at the 2017 GLAAD Media Awards

Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for GLAAD
DNCE performs on stage at 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 6, 2017 in New York City. 

DNCE made their major performance debut of “Kissing Strangers” at the 2017 GLAAD Media Awards in New York on Saturday (May 6). The band also treated the audience to a rousing performance of their Hot 100 top 10 hit “Cake By The Ocean.” During the performance, bassist Cole Whittle grinded on excellence in media award honoree Debra Messing. (Don't worry, she tweaked his nipples in return.)

“The GLAAD Media Awards is an incredible ceremony,” DNCE's frontman Joe Jonas told Billboard at the event. “To be part of something like this, and to play this song -- to have fun and celebrate, that’s what it’s about.”

Both songs were co-written by GLAAD board member Justin Tranter, who has penned hits for Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and Britney Spears. In fact, the songwriter is responsible for co-writes of four hits on the latest Hot 100 chart: Julia Michaels’ “Issues” (No. 14), Maroon 5’s “Cold” (No. 28), Imagine Dragons' “Believer” (No. 37) and Linkin Park’s “Heavy” (No. 54).

“I’m really proud of 'Kissing Strangers,'” Tranter said. He also revealed the songs queer subtext: “The chorus, ‘Open heart, open mind / Never know what you’ll find / Open heart, open mind / Kissing Strangers’ is about being open-minded to the love that might be in front of you.”

As Whittle suggested, DNCE was just as excited to work with Tranter as he was to be part of the track. “I’ve been working with Justin since we were kids,” said Whittle, who previously performed with Tranter in Semi Precious Weapons. “He’s like family to us. He introduced Joe and I, so he’s a big part of why DNCE exists.”

The excitement surrounding DNCE’s performance was in the air.

“I remember when they first hit the scene, I was like really? Prove it to me,” said the evening’s host, Ross Mathews. “And then I was like ‘okay you proved it to me! I love you!’”

“They are so uplifting. They’re really about unity and bringing the best out of people,” said GLAAD president/CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “They’ve always been so supportive of LGBTQ people. I felt like they were the perfect opener to the night. I think they’re going to bring the room to their feet.”