In some circles it is called "grinding." An earlier form went by the name "dirty dancing." Whatever it is called, when it shows up at a public school dance it is always controversial.

The aforementioned dance trend consists of two people, and sometimes more, rubbing their bodies against one another in a sexual or sexually suggestive manner. As a result, many schools have banned it.

Some students and parents disagree with the dance ban. They say that the problem stems more from a generation gap and that grinding is no different from the jitterbug or disco.

Some have tried to compare the gyrations of Elvis Presley to the current dirty dancing. There is no doubt that for his time, Elvis was risqué. However, his was a solo shimmy. Those who defend grinding on the grounds that it is like the dances of previous eras are, at best, very naïve. There is no comparison.

While suggestive dances have come and gone, few -- if any -- have included the physical contact of grinding. The physical familiarity of grinding coupled with the erotic lyrics of much of today’s popular music create a recipe for sexual tension that many teens are unable to overcome.

A study released by RAND, a nonprofit think tank, which appeared in the August issue of the journal Pediatrics found that teens who listened to music with sexually explicit lyrics start having sexual relations sooner than those who prefer other music.

Some public school administrators have recognized that overtly sexualized dancing plus sexually explicit lyrics plus teens’ raging hormones create a dangerous combination. As a result, they are pulling the plug on grinding.

I applaud them. In fact, I would be in favor of doing away with all dances sponsored by public schools.

The point of public education is to teach kids history, math, science, reading, etc. It takes place in an environment that requires cooperation, which encourages the development of social skills. However, how and where dancing fits into the equation of a well-rounded education, I’m not sure.

Even without grinding, school dances are brutal experiences for many teens.

Popular, good-looking kids with sparkling personalities shine at school dances, while shy and awkward kids struggle to make it through the night with their dignity intact.

How devastating is it for the girl who endures the entire evening without once being asked to dance? How humiliating is it for the pimply faced boy to walk back across the gym after having his invitation to dance rejected?

While some kids are flirting with temptation by engaging in grinding, others are having their self-worth trashed all because they don’t have the right look, posses the right clothes or have right the style.

And don’t even get me started on proms. Gone are the days when a gymnasium decorated with crepe paper will suffice. A suit and nice party dress won’t cut it in the current prom environment.

Today’s prom venues are ballrooms at plush hotels. Teens spend hundreds of dollars, sometimes even thousands, on dresses, tuxedos and limousines. Some parents secure hotel rooms for their teens to frolic in, un-chaperoned, after the prom. A few even provide booze.

Could someone please enlighten me on the educational and/or social value that a prom provides? How about a school dance? If parents believe that dancing and grinding are all that important, let them host their own private parties.

School administrators need to give attention to providing a solid educational experience for students; they do not need to waste time policing the latest controversial dance trend.

"The truest expression of a people is in its dances and its music," choreographer Agnes De Mille said. She added, "Bodies never lie." If that’s true, then grinding says a lot, and it expresses way too much information.

 

DISCUSS:

Should schools do away with dances? Share your thoughts here.


Kelly Boggs, whose column appears Fridays in Baptist Press, is editor of the Baptist Message, newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.

© 2006 Baptist Press. All rights reserved. Used with permission.