A couple of years ago my wife served as a chaperone for a local high school prom (go here for the whole story). It was an experience that affirmed our commitment to home-education and heightened our concerns for the well-being of the coming generation:
My wife also made it home from her chaperone assignment without falling asleep, largely due to the startling effect of watching what passes for dancing these days. You see, there’s this thing called “freak” dancing – because it “freaks” parents out, I think – that involves a young lady(?) placing her fundament against her escort’s crotch and both of them vigorously gyrating (music optional). It appears that girls have finally found a way to get the boys out on the dance floor. My wife felt as if she should get out on the floor as well, but with a bucket of water or a garden hose. She settled for prayer instead. It kind of makes the old notion of a guy hoping for a goodnight kiss seem a bit quaint, doesn’t it? I mean, after three hours of something like that with teenaged nerve endings a peck on the cheek would be – oh, shall we say – anti-climactic?
When I was in high school you could be suspended for PDAs (Public Displays of Affection) on school grounds (and yes, we thought it was silly and unfair and an example of adult narrow-mindedness). Our old high school principal would say “You know what holding hands and playing licky-face leads to — No Good!” Thirty years later perhaps we’re seeing what else it leads to. I do question, however, how much “affection” this type of dancing, er, entails.
Just as I was pacing out the dimensions of an ark in my backyard, though, I saw this story in the St. Paul paper this week that suggests that rather than indifference or benign sanction, school officials are trying to clean things up.
For students at Central High School in St. Paul, this fall’s homecoming was nothing like the dances of years past.
It was held in the vast space of the school’s gym rather than the cafeteria, the lights were kept on, and administrators walked around shining flashlights to separate couples who got too close.
“It’s really awful,” said junior Laura Mohn of the new rules. “It’s not right. It’s not fun.”
“This is not how it’s supposed to be,” complained junior Daniel Chahla.
Central is one of several schools in the metro area cracking down on dance behavior that some administrators say has become borderline obscene.
Inspired by popular music and videos, “grinding” or “club dancing” or “twerking” — in which girls swivel their buttocks into boys’ crotches — has been around for several years. But it’s become so blatant and widespread at school dances, officials say, that they’re having trouble lining up adults willing to chaperone any more.
“The dancing’s got so overtly sexual that we have to address it,” said Tim Wald, principal at White Bear Lake High School’s south campus. He described the movement as “a rhythmic grinding that … really appears to be sexual behavior.”
“Now it applies to a lot of our students,” Wald said. “We can’t just pick out those who are misbehaving.”
Glory be, the schools are actually trying to keep something out of their buildings besides the ROTC and army recruiters! Of course these moves have students gnashing their teeth, but I think that’s better than having them grinding their underwear into oatmeal. Not surprisingly, students are voting with their feet (or something).
Roseville Area High principal Connie Nicholson said the homecoming dance this fall drew about a third the crowd it usually does after the school said it would “not be allowing dancing that simulates sexual activity.”
Apple Valley High School has gone from nine dances a year to three — homecoming, Sadie Hawkins and prom — after students objected to new rules last year forbidding grinding. Students essentially boycotted the “smaller, sort of come-as-you-are dances,” said principal Steve Degenaar. “Kids are OK with the rules as long as it’s a major theme dance,” he said.
On the one hand, it’s less of a headache for administrators if students who aren’t prepared to follow the rules stay away from dances.
On the other, dances can be a way to bond students to their school and create camaraderie. And some worry that pushing students to find their own fun on a Friday night will encourage risky behavior.
As Amy Knutson, secretary of the student council at Central, put it after watching classmates bail out on her school’s homecoming dance: “I don’t think it’s a healthier alternative to go to clubs.”
While I’m truly concerned what the longterm ramifications for our youth might be as result of school dances being cut from 9 to just 3 per year(how will we compete with other countries?), I somehow get the impression that bonding with the school isn’t what the kids are interested in. Furthermore, I don’t think allowing group sex in the school as a way to keep kids off the streets and out of the backseats is an effective or logical strategy. And pardon me, Ms. Knutson, but don’t you have to be 21 to get into clubs in Minnesota? Get off the dance floor and get back to debate class!
Dementee over at the Koolaid Report is also on the story like a freak-dancer on a thong.