Enjoy the School Dance — But No ‘Sexual Bending’

Hi Readers! Here rybdheaaey
are the rules
for a school dance in Wisconsin. As summarized by The Smoking Gun, they include “no ‘sexual bending’ [or] the touching of breasts, buttocks, or genitals. Leg straddling is also verboten. Additionally, students are on notice that ‘Both feet must remain on the dance floor at all times.'”

As awkward as the term “sexual bending” might be, I don’t share The Smoking Gun’s obvious scorn for the school banning it.  The rules seem designed to keep dance what it used to be: A metaphor for something else, rather  than a hands-on demonstration.

Old fogey? Me? Maybe. Probably. I know the Twist shocked parents in the ’50s and I’m sure the Charleston shocked their grandparents, and the Waltz probably shocked someone — with a white poufy wig — at some point. And maybe we’ve come so far that there’s nothing shocking left to do but full-frontal (and backal) simulation.

But Free-Range Kids does not mean Free-for-all for Kids. Rules and boundaries are not taboo. I like, for instance, the way the school insists it WILL find any alcohol the students may try to sneak in.

The rule about both feet on the floor? That seems a bit much. But a dance where kids are freed from any pressure to  “sexually bend” or “leg straddle” sounds refreshing. And if they want to cut loose, they can always cha cha cha.

Can’t they? — Lenore

They managed not to "grind." Photo credit: Dok1.


85 Responses to Enjoy the School Dance — But No ‘Sexual Bending’

  1. Stephanie February 2, 2010 at 5:11 am #

    Both feet on the floor at all times? How will they walk, never mind dance?

  2. Trisha February 2, 2010 at 5:19 am #

    Coming from a generation that had plenty of sexual bending at school dances it would have been nice to have some rules spelled out before hand. Girls would have been able to decline this situation without being shunned!

  3. wahoofive February 2, 2010 at 5:20 am #

    I guess they’ll have to shuffle.

  4. Dynastar February 2, 2010 at 5:24 am #

    Looks like everyone will be moonwalking!

  5. Elizabeth February 2, 2010 at 5:25 am #

    I wish clubs had these rules. I just don’t really enjoy seeing some of the bending and leg-up-on-the-wall type stuff. It’s not that I don’t- never mind. Point is, I think these are normal rules for a school dance, and they had them when I was in school.

    It’s just not appropriate public behavior, whatever kids choose to do in the privacy of their parent’s own homes.

  6. Lea February 2, 2010 at 5:27 am #

    I can see why the no sexual bending (whatever the heck that means exactly) would be in place but I don’t think it’s very clear what the heck that would entail? No breast and genitals touching ok , but hey the hands on the butt has been a tried and true and even looked forward to, slow dance move forever! Now the both feet on the floor at all times…….how is that even possible? Are they suppose to spend the entire time on the floor shuffeling their feet, what kind of dance is that? Someone really really didn’t think that through at all and I doubt they’ll have much of a dance attendence if they are going to be sticklers on that one.

  7. Desiree February 2, 2010 at 5:28 am #

    I’m reminded of the dance marathon scene in “Grease”…

  8. Fengru February 2, 2010 at 5:31 am #

    @Lea – Yeah… I was just going to pose that question. I mean, not everyone can moonwalk or electric slide for every dance. Surely just walking requires the removal of your feet from the floor or else I’ve been doing it wrong for years!

  9. Dot Khan February 2, 2010 at 5:41 am #

    I agree that guidelines are wise but youthful curiosity is nothing new. I worked in a club for many years. Dance moves from the past 50 years have been two people showing off their fast moves to each other instead of a coordinated effort. It doesn’t look decent to do today’s frantic moves rubbing against one another when compared to the elegance of a Fred and Ginger when they touched. Dancing to older musical styles such as jazz does not mean that it was more wholesome than today. The original slang meaning for the word jazz is unprintable among respectable folks.

  10. hillary February 2, 2010 at 5:52 am #

    I chaperoned a high school prom a few years ago when I was in my 20’s and was shocked by the public groping going on…and I am NOT a prude by any stretch of the imagination. Girls were giving lap dances to boys, and that was the tame side of the room. Musical selections included Khia’s “Lick My Back” (the uncensored version) which was acted out on the dance floor by many students. It was all bit much. We were told not to interfere unless an actual sexual act (or exposure) was going on. I wish there had been more guidelines about what constituted appropriate behavior. I’m pretty sure their parents thought that “chaperoned high school dance” meant something different.

  11. JB February 2, 2010 at 5:53 am #

    You have to have rules so that the kids know that they can test a particular line. It’s part of growing up.

  12. bushidoka February 2, 2010 at 5:59 am #

    The 2 feet on the floor is a little much, but I agree with the rest.

  13. Maria February 2, 2010 at 6:06 am #

    @JB: But what, precisely, IS the line between non-sexual? asexual? bending and sexual bending? Oh, the fun I would have as a student at that school demanding demonstrations from authority figures…

  14. Peter Blaskowski February 2, 2010 at 6:08 am #

    All of the Latin dances (cha cha, rumba, mambo, etc.) and most ballroom dances (foxtrot, waltz, etc.) are done with both feet on the floor at all times. Tango requires you to lift your feet off the floor as you move. Swing dance footwork varies. So it’s not unheard of to dance with both feet on the floor. But I doubt these kids are going to be doing the ballroom/Latin/swing dances.

    I think the school officials probably meant to say no lifts, meaning no dance moves where one partner fully supports the weight of the other. This is also sometimes described as no moves with a partner that could not be done solo. Carrie Ann uses that description when deducting points for lifts on Dancing With The Stars. The school needs to get a vice principal to “deduct points” every time they see a lift of any sort. After all, what else would a “vice” principal do?

  15. Maggie February 2, 2010 at 6:11 am #

    A dancer myself, I do not see how one can dance with both feet on the floor at all times. That little bit needs a re-think, if you ask me. Which you didn’t, but it’s out there, so…

    I do find it refreshing that a school has taken a stand on the “back your ass up against your boyfriend’s crotch and grind it” style of “dance”. I watched a lot of girls at the last dance I chaperoned sit on the sidelines, miserable, because they didn’t want to act like cheap whores on the dance floor, so their dates went off to “dance” with the girls who did.

    Is it really so hard to teach teenagers proper public behavior?

  16. Maria February 2, 2010 at 6:13 am #

    I’m sure making that threat semi-credible would be a gigantic legal hurdle in itself, but in keeping with “if you wouldn’t be comfortable with Grandma seeing you do it, don’t do it” a good way to impose common decency would be to videotape the dance and threaten to send the offenders’ snippets to their families :-D.

  17. Amanda February 2, 2010 at 6:16 am #

    I think the “both feet on the floor” is referring to a “back that ass up and grind” with one foot in the air or on a wall… not in reference to any lifting. kudos to the school for trying to define what won’t be tolerated… even if their wording could use some work.

  18. SKL February 2, 2010 at 6:36 am #

    This will actually be welcome to many kids. Public displays of sexual lust are not universally appreciated, even (perhaps especially) among teens. In addition, as we parents know, allowing such behavior is just asking for trouble – of a serious nature.

    I honestly don’t understand how things got to such an extreme in the first place.

    So here’s a question – if you found out your free-range child was doing something that risked his lifetime happiness – in the form of an early pregnancy, drug conviction, etc. – would you reduce that free range to, say, the four walls of his bedroom? Or what would you do, that is still in line with the “free range” concept? I guess this is a bit off topic, but relevant for folks whose kids want to basically have sex at the high school dance.

  19. Alexis February 2, 2010 at 6:40 am #

    IMO, the both feet on the floor line is meant to discourage kids from wrapping one leg around their partner’s waist and grinding. And believe me, if you’ve ever chaperoned a dance, you know exactly what “sexual” bending is. It usually involves one person’s butt and another one’s crotch.

  20. Craze February 2, 2010 at 7:00 am #

    By “Both feet on the floor” the mean that they don’t want kids doing dances where limbs are flailing around, or a leg is wrapped around the waist of another student.

    MY daughter has a dance coming up in June, and some of the rules there are totally ridiculous. They HAVE to wear the “School T-shirt” and pants (Not even a skit, or shorts option), and boys and girls aren’t even allowed to dance together.

  21. Tana February 2, 2010 at 7:01 am #

    i think these are excellent rules. sure, they could have been a little more specific about the feet thing, but that’s just semantics. i also think the approach is very free range. these are the rules. this is how they will be enforced. these are the consequences. choose to follow them or choose not to. accept the consequences. nothing remotely ridiculous in that. raising our kids free range very much includes letting them make choices and accept the consequences of those choices.

  22. Jacqui February 2, 2010 at 7:13 am #

    I would have had way more fun at my school dances had ‘freak dancing’, as it was called then, not been allowed, and that was only ten years ago. Me and all of of my friends were scared as hell to go dance because we didn’t want to get dry humped by strange boys. Authority figures stepping in and asking you to make room for the holy spirit when you’re dancing too close or whatever would only be more grounds for more giggling and flirtation anyway. I’m for it!

  23. Melissa February 2, 2010 at 7:47 am #

    I think this is a great idea. Proper boundaries help foster freedom rather than infringe on it, contrary to what many people seem to think these days. This is a case where the adults have done the right thing with their authority.

  24. Maggie February 2, 2010 at 8:04 am #

    So here’s a question – if you found out your free-range child was doing something that risked his lifetime happiness – in the form of an early pregnancy, drug conviction, etc. – would you reduce that free range to, say, the four walls of his bedroom?

    ABSOLUTELY, I would ground his ass, and he’d find himself with some extra household responsibilities, as well. My Monsters have rules, and they do a pretty good job of sticking to them. It’s no fun at all to be grounded at my house – it means loss of ALL privileges (TV, phone, video games, internet, after school activities, seeing the girlfriend, having pals over) until I’m satisfied that the lesson has been learned.

    “Free Range” does not mean “Let ’em run wild”.

  25. Phoebe February 2, 2010 at 8:20 am #

    But what if the kids want to swing dance? IMHO, best reason hands down for wearing a swirly skirt to a dance.

    And, the waltz was considered “indecent” for several decades because, oh noes, people’s bodies were practically *touching*!

  26. Brian February 2, 2010 at 8:22 am #

    Maggie – if there was a way to “fan” someone on this site I would fan you. Thanks!

  27. Blake February 2, 2010 at 8:35 am #

    I’d like to know how far they take these rules. I love dancing myself, and with a good partner it’s wonderful, but you can definitely look at things a little too closely. One time when I was dancing with a girl I really liked at the time, my arm brushed up against her left breasts as we were moving. She paid it no mind, and neither did I, aside from generally noticing where my arm was. I tried to be a bit more careful about it from then on, but it was still completely innocent of any lewd thoughts.

    I’m wondering if even that would fall under this school’s banning policy.

  28. Joe February 2, 2010 at 8:45 am #

    Blake – the rules don’t need to be taht specific. Let the adults make judgment calls. Remember when we, as a society, used to look at the facts of a particular situation and make a determination of whether something was right or wrong? Oh, the good old days when adults acted like adults and not automatons.

  29. Craze February 2, 2010 at 9:15 am #

    “So here’s a question – if you found out your free-range child was doing something that risked his lifetime happiness – in the form of an early pregnancy, drug conviction, etc. – would you reduce that free range to, say, the four walls of his bedroom? Or what would you do, that is still in line with the “free range” concept? I guess this is a bit off topic, but relevant for folks whose kids want to basically have sex at the high school dance.”<– Maggie

    Free-Range =/= No Rules. My daughter's only ten right now, but if I caught her doing something along these lines, she'd be lucky if she only got grounded.

    Free Range does not mean that discipline and punishment are unheard of. It only means that we're not going to hire ex secret service agents to escort our children every time they want to do something as simply as play in their own backyard, or, perish the thought, a neighbors backyard. Its not teaching our children that the equivalent to Charles Manson is around every corner and they're only safe if they're within arm's reach of Mommy. Its allowing them to walk to school on their own, go to friends houses, actually BE OUTSIDE, instead of parking their bums in front of the PS3 for an afternoon. Its keeping them safe, while still giving them the chance to make their own choices, and yes, even their own mistakes, which gives them the chance to turn into independent adults who don't have agoraphobia, and who can balance a checkbook, hold down a job, and not have to live in their parents basement at 50.


  30. Craze February 2, 2010 at 9:16 am #

    Whoops, Maggie didn’t say that, lol. Sorry, I had read your comment right before posting my own, and mistyped.

  31. Maggie February 2, 2010 at 9:17 am #

    Hee, I just saw that.

    No harm, no foul.

  32. bmj2k February 2, 2010 at 9:24 am #

    And now this, from the other end of the spectrum:

  33. Anna February 2, 2010 at 9:27 am #

    In my middle school days the word going around was “pelvic girations” 🙂

  34. Sandy February 2, 2010 at 9:31 am #

    I’m a bit perplexed about the “both feet on the floor” rule. But judging from the comments, so are half your readers.


  35. SKL February 2, 2010 at 10:18 am #

    I agree, I’d ground ’em too (and probably more) if they broke a rule that could have serious life consequences – and being free range kids, the grounding would likely be felt more intensely.

    I just asked the question because I could see where the lines could get blurred between “free to choose between acceptable options” and “free to choose whatever.” Of course, there was never any doubt in my mind what my parents would think of my touching drugs or sneaking off alone with a boy, and I was pretty free range. But a lot has changed since then; there are many parents who seem to overprotect with respect to everything “but” sex.

  36. Renee February 2, 2010 at 10:22 am #

    Dry humping in public of all places. Gross.

    ‘There should be enough space for the Holy Spirit between you and your partner.’

    Never went to Catholic School or dances while in public school, but this was a comment made by our labor instructor during prenatal classes at a Catholic Hospital. It was a reference to Catholic School dances, when she was teasing us for our laboring positioning.

    Teaching your child to be independent, is also teaching them a sense of decorum and self control.

  37. gramomster February 2, 2010 at 11:13 am #

    I too hated junior high and high school dances. It was called the Dirty Dog then, and took place partially on the floor (!), and this was the ’70s and early ’80s. But both feet on the floor? How does that work? Hmmmm….

    Here’s a good one for you though, from the helicopter school of ‘oh, poor babies!’ parenting. In one of the local high schools here (the very prestigious one just across the border from our city proper), there was an incident of a party where kids were drinking and allegedly doing some other substances. Some genius kid took pictures and posted them to a Myspace page. This tells you that it was about 4 years ago, before Facebook took over teh interwebiverse. Someone’s (who wasn’t at the party) parent saw the pics while kid was online, alerted the school, the administrators looked at the pics, declared the behavior unacceptable, and suspended the kids from their respective sports, and all of them from the Sweetheart Swirl dance. The parents of the affected kids were outraged. Not at their kids… oh heavens no!!! At the meany mean administrators for denying their precious snowflakes the opportunity to attend a Valentine’s Day dance, and for potentially harming their chances to be seen by college scouts at the upcoming spring games.

    Consequence? The parents rented out a very posh private room at the downtown convention center for the poor things to hold a very exclusive dance. It was professionally decorated, planned and catered, there was live music, ballroom, chandeliers… yada yada yada. ‘If those meanies take away our darlings’ fun, we’ll show ’em! We’ll provide the best this city has to offer, and only a select few will be invited. Neener neener neener!!!’

    Unbefreakinglievable man. Seriously… WTF? Still boggles the mind.

  38. LindaLou February 2, 2010 at 11:37 am #

    I think banning anything makes it appear more desirable to teenagers.

  39. Sierra February 2, 2010 at 11:38 am #

    I’m relieved to see your take on this, Lenore. When I worked at the local newspaper, I used to cover school dances and it was extremely uncomfortable to see 9-yr-old kids simulating sexual intercourse on the dance floor.

    I love freedom of expression as much as the next person, but those kids weren’t freely expressing themselves. They were mimicking pop culture images they couldn’t fully understand.

    I’m sure my own kids will be rolling their eyes at me over this someday, but I’m glad to see schools stepping in and setting some boundaries there.

  40. Jesse February 2, 2010 at 12:28 pm #

    I find it kind of sad that schools can’t ask their students to use common sense; like no dry humping.

  41. Frau_Mahlzahn February 2, 2010 at 3:41 pm #

    Well, I think you’ve got a point — but then I remember when I was an exchange student at an American High School — I just kissed my boyfriend in the locker room, when the prinicipal walked by and lectured us on how we were not supposed to do that. While he was talking to us, an obviously pregnant ninth grader walked by (and there were quite a few of them) — and I couldn’t help wondering, if maybe he lectured the wrong kids…

    No, seriously, I think you are perfectly right — but we also have to make sure that kids don’t start having sex and drink alcohol for lack of something else (and more appropriate for their age) to do, and at the same time to provide them with an environment where sex isn’t this awfully evil thing no-one will talk about.

    Sorry, my English is kind of rosty, can’t explain better.

    So long,

  42. Frau_Mahlzahn February 2, 2010 at 3:44 pm #

    P.S.: I mean, it’s perfectly okay to have these rules and to stick with them, if the kids understand what they are about. I remember at our High School Prom there were similar rules, while at the same time kids had rented hotel rooms in the hotel where the prom took place — and now guess, what they were doing there…

    So long,

    P.S.: Ha! Still can’t believe the principal lectured me, while all this other stuff was going on, *lol*!

  43. Ella February 2, 2010 at 6:37 pm #

    I think it might be more realistic to say no feet to be raised above knee height.
    Their rules prohibit every dance style I can think of from the waltz to the twist.

    And who decides what is classified as ‘showing cleavage’?
    I can understand no falling out of their tops, but is a simple v-neck showing too much?
    Unless they make their own dresses those girls are going to find it hard to get a dress that doesn’t show ANY cleavage.

  44. Blake February 2, 2010 at 7:08 pm #

    @ Joe

    You’re right in that the rules needn’t be that specific, but this is a school we’re talking about. This is one of a group of institutions that have anti-drug laws that consider aspirin dangerous. This is one of a group of institutions that ban rough play because of “danger”. I don’t trust them not to go apes— over the smallest of things.

  45. Renee February 2, 2010 at 7:16 pm #


    I cringe at the idea of banning also, because we know where it can go if banned.

    We should be asking what are we not giving young adults, rather then what shouldwe be taking away. We’ve taking everything else away, so should we be surprises this is how teenagers respond? Which I think is a big idea out of the free-range concept. 14 year olds grinding on the dance floor, yet for their own safety not allowed to use the stove or walk to school. How can they show maturity, when they have no outlets for such desire.

    Bring back more of the classic humanities (rather then literature about self), give them real chores, or more work/internships for teenagers so they can realize life is outside their peer group and marketed culture?

  46. helenquine February 2, 2010 at 7:56 pm #

    Most of these rules seem fine to me (though rewording on the foot rule would be wise). Any venue should be able to set rules to try and create the atmosphere they want and a less sexually explicit atmosphere for a school dance doesn’t seem unreasonable.

    I’m a bit concerned about the door lock rule – not letting students out early if they want to leave seems pretty awful to me. I’d be kind of horrified if a place I went to for fun told me I wasn’t allowed to leave when I wanted to (assuming it didn’t disturb other patrons). I don’t really see the point of a rule like this – can anyone enlighten me?

  47. Maggie February 2, 2010 at 7:58 pm #

    Not letting students out early is meant to discourage them from sneaking off to get into trouble – you know, tell your folks you’re going to the dance, they drop you off, then you leave for somewhere else?

  48. Lola February 2, 2010 at 9:15 pm #

    All of this reminds me of when I was 16… Then I look at my little children and shudder. Yipes.

  49. Jennifer February 2, 2010 at 10:08 pm #

    I don’t know; I think if my teenager had gotten to the point where he or she had gotten convicted for drug use, got pregnant, or gotten someone pregnant, the time for grounding to be effective would be long past. It strikes me that the likelihood a teenager is going to say “I’d better not have unprotected sex; I’ll be grounded for life!” is extremely slim. It also strikes me that the likelihood of a teenager saying “Now that I’m grounded I’m really sorry I had unprotected sex!” is slim.

    At this point I’d probably do lots and lots of education, lots of talking about decision-making and the future, and lots of helping my child come up with a concrete plan to address that future. But saying “You got her pregnant! You’re grounded for a week!” seems to insufficiently address the situation, and “You got her pregnant! You’re grounded for a year!” seems more likely to foster deceit and a poor long-term relationship between me and my child.

    When I was 16 I was in a relationship my parents disapproved of. They forbade me from seeing the person and required that I go no place other than school and work. I moved out of the house and went to live with the person my parents so hated (which actually worked out well), and it permanently damaged my relationship with my parents.

    This is not to say penalties are not appropriate for misbehavior, even into the teen years. However, once kids start having adult problems, you need to start thinking about adult solutions, whether you think the kids are ready or not.

  50. Lola February 2, 2010 at 10:34 pm #

    Jennifer: this reminds me of what my mum said when I got my first period. After smiling and congratulating me for “joining the club”, she said,
    “You realize what this means, don’t you?”
    “That I’m a woman now?”
    “Not exactly; you can be a mother now!”
    That sure felt like a cold shower!

  51. catgirl February 2, 2010 at 11:21 pm #

    I guess I’m gonna go against the grain and not get scared of teen sexuality. Some boundaries are good, and it shouldn’t get to the point of dry humping. But banning “sexual bending”? What, exactly, is the point of that? Do they think that it will actually prevent teens from having real sex? Instead of trying to prevent teenagers from having any sexual activity, we should educate them, empower them, and then trust them to do it safely.

  52. Keppy February 2, 2010 at 11:22 pm #

    I think the rules are pretty clear and I’m sure that the kids aren’t confused about the feet thing. I’m sure nobody thinks they honestly mean you aren’t allowed to take a step or literally lift their feet up while dancing.
    There are many proms and other dances where this sexual bending isn’t just simulated. Actual sex is taking place. Girls are going to the bathroom to wipe their legs off afterwards, etc.
    I heard about one dance that had a rule of all girls must wear panties. I mean I understand that rule but how exactly could they enforce that one lol.

  53. pentamom February 2, 2010 at 11:54 pm #

    Catgirl Just because they’re banning behavior that is absolutely inappropriate in any public setting between any people, ever, does not mean they think they’ll prevent teen sex. It would be absolutely disgusting if married adults with several children behaved like that in public, so not allowing kids to do it may or may not limit sexual behavior elsewhere, but is absolutely the right thing to do regardless.

  54. helenquine February 3, 2010 at 12:41 am #

    pentamom – “It would be absolutely disgusting if married adults with several children behaved like that in public,”

    But married adults with several children *do* behave like this in public. This sort of dancing isn’t limited to high school dances – it’s the way adults dance at some clubs. So in banning it they aren’t banning behavior that’s completely inappropriate in any public setting in the US – they’re just saying “we want a less overtly sexual atmosphere at this dance”.

    Many of those kids will grow up a bit and go to clubs where they’ll dance like that and it will be just as appropriate as disco dancing at a dance in the ’70s. (of course others won’t want to – but not everyone liked disco either).

  55. helenquine February 3, 2010 at 12:45 am #

    Maggie – I kind of wondered that but it seemed so lame I didn’t really consider it.

    If the reason they won’t let any kids out is because a few aren’t trustworthy – then I think that rule is kind of anti-free range. Since these are high school kids, I tend to think if a parent doesn’t trust their kid enough to let them go somewhere on their own they ought to be making other arrangement, not expecting all the kids to be treated like toddlers. But my kids aren’t that age yet!

  56. Jonathan Bartlett February 3, 2010 at 12:46 am #

    What makes free-ranging possible, in my view, is precisely, rules. The ability to be in control of oneself is precisely what gives you freedom.

  57. jim February 3, 2010 at 12:56 am #

    Surprised that Gramomster, being a Deadhead, doesn’t get the concept of dancing with both feet on the floor. I’ve been around Deadheads for 30 years, and dancing at a Dead or Dead-tribute concert consists of standing with both feet firmly rooted to the ground (granted, some participants need a cinder block wired to each ankle to keep them from drifting off like a Balloon Boy) while bobbing heads and shoulders more or less in time with the music.

    Which reminds me of one of my favorite jokes from my days as a music critic:

    What did the Deadhead say when he ran out of drugs?

    Wow, dude, this band sucks!

    Right up there with “Why do bagpipers march when they are playing?” “To get away from the bleedin’ noise!”

  58. NJMom February 3, 2010 at 1:03 am #

    I agree with Lenore and don’t feel that kids–and yes, teens are kids even if they want to have sex–need to behave sexually, particularly in public. But I would really love to know what the students think about the no “sexual bending” rule. They may actually feel more comfortable with it in place.

  59. Maggie February 3, 2010 at 1:28 am #

    @pentamom – Yes, exactly this. It’s not about “being afraid of teen sexuality”, it’s about simple decorum. I’m sure people think the simulated sex form of “dancing” in public is “empowering” (or whatever the new term for “I don’t give a rat’s ass about other people” is), but truth be told, I don’t wanna see that. Take it behind closed doors, where it belongs. Screwing in public – simulated or otherwise – is RUDE.

    @helenquine – I agree with you, it is an anti-free range rule. But I can understand why the school feels the need to have it. It’s their collective butts in the sling if a kid sneaks out and winds up hurt or dead.

  60. Sky February 3, 2010 at 1:59 am #

    I thought “free range” referred to geography, not to rules. I mean, free range chickens still aren’t allowed to eat the apple pie on the window sill, they just don’t have to spend all day in a cage.

  61. Brian February 3, 2010 at 2:02 am #

    @Maggie – I disagree with you on that last bit about the “no leaving” rule. Now that they’ve made that rule, they have to enforce it, and if they fail to enforce it and a kid gets out, then it’s the school’s fault. On the other hand, a permission slip for the dance that clearly lays out that kids will not be prevented from leaving and will not be supervised if they do leave, puts the parents in charge of their kids’ misbehavior. Which is the way it should be.

    And just cause adults do *it* in a nightclub doesn’t mean it’s OK for teens to do *it* at a school dance. Whatever *it* is.

  62. pentamom February 3, 2010 at 2:06 am #

    Well, helenquine, we’ll have to agree to disagree — it IS completely inappropriate in any public setting. It’s just that people do completely inappropriate things sometimes, and there isn’t always the means to stop it.

    Here, there is, so yeah, it should be banned just like defecating should be banned.

  63. pentamom February 3, 2010 at 2:06 am #

    Deliberate “public” defecating, of course.

  64. Uly February 3, 2010 at 2:34 am #

    But married adults with several children *do* behave like this in public. This sort of dancing isn’t limited to high school dances – it’s the way adults dance at some clubs. So in banning it they aren’t banning behavior that’s completely inappropriate in any public setting in the US – they’re just saying “we want a less overtly sexual atmosphere at this dance”.

    I don’t care what people do at “some clubs”. In some clubs you can have sex out in public and nobody cares. That doesn’t make it any less tacky.

  65. Leonard Ewy February 3, 2010 at 2:44 am #

    I agree with rules defining public decorum at school events. However, regardless of rules imposed by the school during the dance, many of the kids will do their own “dance” in the back seat of their cars afterwards. Even the kids that aren’t sexually active will look at the rules as hypocritical posturing imposed by phonies–remember Holden Caulfield?

  66. pentamom February 3, 2010 at 2:53 am #

    Yes, and Holden Caulfield was wrong. It’s not “phony” to have standards even if you don’t meet them.

    I never understood why Holden Caulfield is held up as an example of wisdom. He was a completely spoiled, ungrateful little hypocrite.

    Besides, the kids who are not sexually active are more likely to be glad they can enjoy the dance without all that junk going on.

  67. jim February 3, 2010 at 3:31 am #

    Thank you, pentamom. My reaction to the gushing that has gone on over the passing of Salinger was the same. He’s just a phase that you go thru on the path to literacy – like Robbins, Brautigan, Plath and Kerouac. Fun stuff to read in middle school when the whole world doesn’t understand you/ is out to get you but not viable blueprints for adulthood.

  68. helenquine February 3, 2010 at 3:39 am #

    When we talk about public spaces here we’re talking about spaces that the public can go into *if they choose* (and if they are admitted) – not the street. So I think your idea that your taste should decree what is appropriate is way out of line. Defecating in venues set aside for the purpose *is* legal and I am sometimes quite thankful for public bathrooms. Dancing in this way in venues set aside for it seems fine to me. I just won’t be attending.

    I agree that banning it at a school dance could be a good idea. I’m just saying that this, as Lenore indicated in her post, isn’t really any different from the outrage, shock and discomfort of previous generations of parents to whatever dance moves were newly in vogue when their children became teens. Seeing this sort of thing should just make us feel more compassion for our own parents!

  69. Carleton Kendrick February 3, 2010 at 3:57 am #

    Let’s get real here. The overt, blatant, hardcore frontal and “backdoor” grinding by teens that I have observed as an adult invited to house parties and celebrations is simulated sex -nothing remotely related to dancing.

    It’s a sad commentary that schools find it necessary to prohibit such wholly inappropriate behavior at school sponsored dances. But they have learned that they must.

    I wonder how the parents of these “grinders” would react if they witnessed their kids virtually “doing” one another in a public forum like a school dance.

    Am I surprised as a family therapist that kids think such behavior is “cool” and “normal?” Not when so many adolescents look to downloaded porn and MTV videos for their models of being sexy and “hot.”
    Peace and grace,
    Carleton Kendrick Ed.M., LCSW
    Faamily Theraapist and Author,
    “Take Out Your Nose Ring, Honey, We’re Going to Grandma’s”

  70. B. Durbin February 3, 2010 at 4:24 am #

    “I’m just saying that this, as Lenore indicated in her post, isn’t really any different from the outrage, shock and discomfort of previous generations of parents to whatever dance moves were newly in vogue when their children became teens.”

    When it is impossible to distinguish a dance move from outright sex on the dance floor, I’d say it is different. And I say this very advisedly— I work for a photography studio, and we photograph events such as prom. People at the studio have seen everything, especially the stuff we don’t want to— and many of our staff members are doing things like working their way through college, so it’s not a generational thing.

    So yes, sex on the dance floor has been spotted. (Ew.) “Dance” all-but-indistinguishable from sex on the dance floor has been spotted, with the minor difference of clothing positions. And “sexual bending”? Very different from a classical dip.

    I suspect that “both feet in contact with the floor” means more like “both feet in near contact with the floor”, as in lift-up-put-down. No dancing with the girl’s legs wrapped around the guy. Or whatever.

    P.S. I am a snob when it comes to dance. As in, “Huh. You call that dancing? Go learn some real dance, whether it’s jazz, swing, or southern African tribal dance. Then we’ll talk.”

  71. pentamom February 3, 2010 at 4:32 am #

    helenquine, a bathroom stall in a public building is NOT a “public place” in the way a dance floor is. Please. A dance floor is a public place in the way a supermarket aisle is. You choose to go into both, and you expect not to see inappropriate behavior in either. Sure, it happens, but it’s discouraged.

    It’s more than a matter of “taste.”

    And what B. Durbin says. We’re not just talking about things that make prudish people frown.

  72. impassionedplatypi February 3, 2010 at 4:45 am #

    @gramomster 11:13

    I agree that the parents’ reaction in your example is pretty ridiculous, but so is the school’s. What people do outside of school should not effect what they are allowed to do inside in the same way that what people do outside of work should not effect their jobs. If the school wanted to point law enforcement toward the MySpace pictures, that would be one thing because what was happening in the pictures was illegal. But suspending them and keeping them from participating in their athletics and such is not the right way to handle it. If people can function in their school or work lives without their teachers or bosses having any reason to believe that they’re on drugs or doing things outside of school/work that the teacher/boss might not agree with, it should have no bearing on their school/work careers.

  73. helenquine February 3, 2010 at 5:07 am #

    Pentamom – At a supermarket it would be inappropriate to do all sorts of things that are appropriate in other venues. Fighting for instance. But that doesn’t make it inappropriate at a boxing match. I can’t stand boxing. I don’t go to boxing matches. I don’t like this type of dancing. I don’t go to these clubs. If you go into a club that fosters that type of atmosphere but you don’t want to see that behavior the inappropriate thing is you going in the club. A lot of young people find it really hot. They like it. They have a good time. At the end of the night they go home, get up in the morning and go on with their lives like everyone else.

    Maybe I’m missing something, but nobody seems to have said anything other than “but it’s more risque than I like”. So I’m not really seeing how it is anything other than a taste issue.

  74. Renee February 3, 2010 at 5:57 am #

    Another point to make about inappropriate behavior on the dance floor, is that can we really call it dancing? If anything it seems a bit lazy. Dancing is still considered a performing art, there are boundaries between what is tap and what is ballet. Yeah over time, differing forms of dance evolve but each form tells a story or represents something larger. Even the hokie pokie has more significance then what is displayed at high school dances.

    I think it is nice to see in the show “So you can think you can dance’, while displaying mature relationships and emotions in some of its choreography to also show the difference between laziness and dancing.

  75. Nicola February 3, 2010 at 5:17 pm #

    Nice to see someone is putting a stop to that kind of “dancing.” I mean, getting close – a hand on the butt… I think that’s been going on for ages. But the rest… yeah. It makes these teen girls into little tramps on the dance floor and many of the boys expecting that a dance with a girl is going to lead to getting his groove on.

  76. jim February 4, 2010 at 12:19 am #

    @Carleton Kendrick – Great book title! I’ll look for it. Interesting post as well. Have you read “Turning Angel” by Greg Iles? He’s one of my favorite novelists – this is the sequel to “The Quiet Game” which is a great book about race relations in the modern South. Anyway “Angel” deals with the technology-delivered sexual awareness of modern teens. Very disturbing book – not recommended for the parents of teen girls, unless you can afford a convent school on the dark side of the Moon.

  77. gramomster February 4, 2010 at 12:30 am #

    I was a spinner. I hung out in the hallways, skipping, running, leaping, and spinning like a top. I totally don’t get the whole stand and bounce/sway thing. Maybe a different class of drug of choice might explain it, but I’ve never been even able to dance with both feet on the floor. When I play music in my kitchen, I don’t COOK with both feet on the floor! 🙂

    Even the bands I go to now, while there is some stand/sway stuff, there is certainly foot stomping, and some degree of turning/spinning (Conor Oberst, Decemberists, Death Cab, Dresden Dolls, ummmm… random roots and bluegrass). If I don’t have room to spin, I don’t have room to dance.

  78. jim February 4, 2010 at 1:50 am #

    grammomster –

    Getting WAY off topic here, but check out Mike Henderson and the Bluebloods for serious roots blues/ rock. Great indie albums and the best bar band I’ve ever seen, but they don’t often get far from Nashville because they would rather stay home with their families and do “puking all the way to the bank” Nashville session work.

  79. Jen February 4, 2010 at 5:23 am #


    I am really finding your comments thought-provoking. I can see many of your points. I wonder, do you think sex on a dance floor at a teen dance should be acceptable, or is that simply a matter of taste about too risque?

    What I really am wondering, if, as parents, if our children are invited to dances where this kind of behavior occurs, and there are no guidelines, how do we help our kids feel comfortable if they aren’t interested in the more risque behavior? How do we empower them to say no if that’s what they want? How do we help them stand up to peer pressure and expectations?

    I wonder if it might me more reasonable to have the kids vote about the kind of dancing they want at the dance. Seems like many of the comments are from people who didn’t feel comfortable with certain moves when they went to school dances. Maybe if the kids jointly decided what would be acceptable and then those who weren’t interested didn’t have to come. Would that work?

  80. helenquine February 4, 2010 at 6:02 am #

    Jen – I’m really interested in the question of how we empower our children to stand up to peer pressure. I never felt particularly pressured into doing things I didn’t want to in high school. I think it was because I was brought up to be fairly bloody minded, and there’s a lot of downside to that so I’m interested in other ways to build a strong will in my kids.

    When I’m talking about appropriate behavior above I’m merely saying it’s appropriate in a club that fosters that kind of atmosphere, with (adult) patrons who have gone to enjoy that kind of dancing. This in response to a post saying that that type of behavior isn’t appropriate anywhere. And I’m talking about the “dancing” not actual sex – which gets into other territory. And my main point in bringing it up at all is simply that the outrage and shock people (including me) feel at this sort of dancing really is no different than the outrage and shock my great grandmother expressed when she first saw Elvis thrust his hips on TV.

    I think school dances are quite right to foster a less sexual atmosphere. A school needs to cater to its whole population as best it can, not to the few on the cutting edge of culture. I would say it’s not the school’s role to be promoting sexual coupling in any way really, but some posters here have mentioned that proms were started to try and get people paired up and married right out of high school, so I’m probably way off on that belief.

  81. Jen February 4, 2010 at 6:59 am #

    Thanks for clarifying, helenquine. And I do appreciate that you have provided the “other” side of the issue so to speak.

  82. gramomster February 4, 2010 at 7:52 am #

    Hey JIm, thanks for the music link! When I got to them on youtube, there was a comment about the Steel Drivers. Well, heck! They played Wheatland last year, which was freakin’ amazing!!! So, yeah, definitely on the right track there, man.

  83. Careless February 4, 2010 at 12:57 pm #

    On the one hand, overbroad. On the other hand, they probably wanted, mostly, to ban grinding (dance dry-humping)

    Pretty inoffensive as bans go

  84. Nicole February 7, 2010 at 10:14 am #

    How the hell do you dance with both feet on the floor and dance? Are they just suppose to rock back and forth?

    Anyway- I get it, sort of. When I was in school I think it was more along the lines of “no lewd behavior or you’ll be asked to leave” . Oh, and they had to be able to see between you and your dance partner… Um, yeah.

    In middle school shouldn’t most of the time be taken up by goofy, semi structured group dances with a couple “slow dances” thrown in?

  85. talfonso October 2, 2010 at 6:22 am #

    Hey – I’m on the same position as you, but I disagree a bit on the impossibility of keeping both feet on the floor at all times. The twist is a dance suited for it, as does the Chicken Dance.

    Oh, and I made a website on Tumblr, Get Your Freak Dancing Off, about the issue! Have a gander at it and tell me what you think!