School principals in Seattle, Kent, Sedro-Wooley, Burlington, Tacoma, Blaine, Everett, and Port Angeles have all dealt with this issue at their high schools.
Call it freaking, grinding, bumping, or dirty dancing – administrators in those districts have all cancelled high school dances due to inappropriate student behavior.
A few years ago it was Nathan Hale Principal Jill Hudson’s problem.
“Students were dancing inappropriately,” Hudson said in an interview. “I’m not going to get into the details, what I’m determining and calling it is inappropriate behavior and I cannot allow that at school functions.”
Principal Jason Perrins dealt with it at Prairie High School in Vancouver.
“When you have sexually explicit behavior and possible groping and inappropriate touching going on, that’s not safe,” he said.
Now it’s Port Angeles High School’s turn to explain to students that dancing in provocative ways isn’t going to be allowed.
“Our number one concern is and always will be student safety,” says Michelle Reid, the deputy superintendent of the Port Angeles School District.
“We also have certain behavioral expectations for appropriate social behavior,” she tells me. “The type of grinding dancing is not one of the characteristics of what we would consider appropriate dance behavior.”
What’s not allowed? No front to back or back to front grinding. No dancing with hands below a partner’s hips. No bending over in any position that exceeds a 90-degree angle. No ankle grabbing.
The simple motto is “Face to Face, Leave Some Space” during school dances.
Basically, the only ways some teens know how to dance is not allowed at most high school dances.
“The common cultural perceptions around dancing have certainly evolved over the last 20 years,” Reid acknowledges.
She says the community is split on whether the school should prohibit sexually suggestive dancing.
“Some parents say, ‘It’s fine let them have fun. There are bigger issues to worry about,'” Reid says.
Most students don’t like being told how to behave, especially at their dances. In protest, students at Port Angeles High decided not to buy tickets for an upcoming Spring Fling dance.
Ticket sales were low the school cancelled the event. That means money that would have been raised for student activities won’t be coming in.
Reid believes both sides need to consider the other’s view.
The students need to understand the concerns adults have, and adults need to realize kids want to have a good, fun time at dances.
“Somewhere in the middle they need to find that happy medium so that the dances can continue and kids want to attend them and we’ll believe that they’re healthy emotionally and physically for kids,” she says.
Ironically, Port Angeles High School’s athletic rival – Sequim High School – is getting ready for its spring musical. They’re doing a production of Footloose.
By LINDA THOMAS
Listen to the end of the podcast above for the top three songs on the DJ’s banned music list at one local prom.