Should the high school prom be renamed the high school porno? They call it "grinding" or "freak dancing" when students grind their pelvises into each other to the beat of sexually explicit music, sometimes in chains of three or four or more. This kind of dancing is so commonplace with high-school students that some parents and cultural writers are suggesting all attempts at school dancing decorum should be abandoned.
In The Washington Post, reporter Laura Sessions Stepp recently tried to talk herself and her readership into finding a different war to fight, since dancing regulations only spur a debate with students that "we" are losing. Stepp bizarrely tried to suggest there was really "no evidence" that simulating sex on the dance floor for hours leads to sexual activity eventually. Is this woman serious?
Unfortunately yes, and she wasn't done. Stepp went further, mocking the high-school dances of her generation, when dancing was so individualistic, girls loved to dance, but boys hung out on the sidelines for fear of embarrassment. She theorized, "At least grinding attracts both sexes onto the dance floor." She then quoted a young male: "Men like to dance, and women like to have sex. But neither are [sic] supposed to show it. Grinding allows them to do what they like in a socially acceptable way."
One principal in West Virginia professed amazement with this entire conversation: "Who would disagree with a principal asking kids not to simulate anal sex on the dance floor?"
The freak-dancing wars are a symptom of a larger disease. In too many schools, parents and principals and chaperones are letting the inmates run the asylum. What should be a strict, clean, carefully observed behavior code is being challenged and ultimately rejected by students -- spoiled punks -- emboldened enough to defy and intimidate the adults who would enforce those codes. What's left is a tacky event where teenagers dress in expensive tuxedos and gowns and dance like they weren't wearing any clothes at all.
On the website Slate a few years ago, twentysomething author David Amsden attended a prom in Rockville, Md., as a journalist to observe the modern customs. It wasn't pretty. "Most, however, are dancing in a style you could call Rap Video Imitation Gone Wrong: the girls back into the boys, who proceed to lift up the girls' dresses in a way they apparently think is subtle, but in reality is anything but. Then they try, and fail, to move to the beat." One girl's dress was hiked up so far the author could see her bellybutton ring.