Damn that Dirty Dancing!

Posted by on November 20, 2006

Apparently St. Paul schools are cracking down on dirty dancing (aka freak dancing) at school dances. I’m curious to know what you all think about this.

Now don’t get me wrong. I think freak dancing and all it entails is pretty gross and tasteless and I would probably have a friggin’ cow if my daughter was doing it and I saw it. But…that said, people have been dancing suggestively for ages and this is really nothing new.

Part of me thinks it might be the lesser of two evils for teens to test boundaries on the dance floor in the gym than in some other unsupervised situation. I mean sure, there should definitely be some limits set and I think some frank discussions are in order about why certain things are inappropriate but banning dances? I just think teens respond better to open and honest communication than the iron fist approach.

I know, I know….dancing is dangerous because it leads to SEX!!! And yes, the driving beats of the music are just a metaphor for the pelvic thrusting of intercourse. Mmmhmm. I know ALL about the evils of dancing. I’ve seen Footloose.

I’m kidding. KIDDING!!!!!

Seriously though, I may not be a psychologist but I do remember what it was like to be a teenager and testing those waters myself, albeit in a different manner. When I would go on vacation and visit my best friend, she and I would dress up in some sexaay duds, sneak out after her parents went to bed and use fake ID’s to get into these clubs where they didn’t care how hokey our ID’s were. We were about 16 or 17 and way out of our league, thinking we were some hot shit on a stick.

But hello? High school girls in bars when the parents thought they were safely tucked away in bed? That’s stupid AND dangerous. The semi-controlled environment of a school dance seems downright safe in comparison. I may be way off base but I just find it hard to get too worked up over dancing, particularly when these kids are not to blame. I prefer to save my ire for the bigger issues at work here.

And to be honest, I was going to end this post right here and forgo the soapbox but seeing as I’ve pledged to be true to myself whilst blogging, I’m going to forge ahead and get my rant on.

So where was I? Oh yes…the kids are not to blame. I mean they have their noses rubbed in sexual imagery from childhood on and then we go and sexualize our little girls and then we give them numerous forms of media that are saturated with sexual content and imagery of the most base variety, as well as all manner of negative gender stereotyping and then when they freak dance, we call foul? What the hell did we EXPECT them to turn out like? Nuns and monks? They’re simply products of their environment and you can’t really fault them for that.

But it isn’t too late for the next generation. And with that, I challenge everyone to speak up the next time you see something that makes you say WTF??? Use your voice. Be heard! Edited to Add: And for the love of Emilio Estevez…TALK to your kids BEFORE they get to his point. Explain the concept of self-respect and give them relevant examples. If you don’t, who will?

Okay…I’m done with the soapbox. Now it’s your turn. What do you think about the banning of school dances in Minnesota (and now in California)?

(And it’s okay if you disagree with me, as I fully expect many of you will, but please read the article(s) before debating the issue(s)


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  • RWA says:

    I have to agree 100 percent. Cracking down at a school dance is not going to keep sex and other activities out of kids’ minds. However, my guess is that this is yet another example of schools going out of their way to do everything they can to avoid being sued by some parent.

    I mean, hey, they sue for everything else. I can see some parent saying, “You let this guy freak dance with my daughter, and a week later she was pregnant. She would NEVER have done anything like that if it wasn’t for your unsupervised activities!”

    Please. Schools aren’t supposed to raise kids and teach morals and values. Parents are.

    I’ll stop now before I really get going on my “soapbox.”

  • Julie says:

    Well…I agree with you. How…erudite of me. let me try to add some substance.

    The current cultural trend now in so many respect seems pretty trashy to me. Freak dancing is just one thing. G-strings hanging out of low-rise pants. Bratz Lingerie Dolls. But maybe I have simply grown old. And prudish.

    Because I guess I can sort of recall adults being stressed out during my teen years about trends in that time (really? argyle socks with knee shorts and sweater sets were stressful? oh okay yes, it was the advent of the punk era too). And my parents tell tales of their parents freaking out during their teen year trends. Greasers and hippies oh my! And I’m sure it goes all the way back to the first young person who decided to paint a cave wall to tell a story and freaked out the 20-something elders.

    But in any era, I think the key is to let go in some ways because teens will experiment. It’s part of self-development and maturation. All while guiding and supporting.

    I get a yearning for a tequila shot when I think the words “parenting a teen.”

    So…all that to say why I agree with you.

    And dance is so…expressive. I’m hard-pressed to you know, censor…

    What are they afraid of, exactly?

    Anyway…this doesn’t seem the way or the answer to me.

    Better to have some fun dance school teacher come in and teach the kids some fun pop routine or something.


  • Michelle says:

    I know I’ll probably sound like a fossil and get blasted for saying this but I think if there’s a problem with what’s happening in these school dances, no where in the Constitution is there a right to high school dances. Part of the job of adults is to protect minors from things that aren’t good for them, i.e. recreating sexual acts on the dance floor, and yes, you’re right that it is the fault of some adults for exposing them to such sexuality, that’s a separate issue. I’ve never bought the argument that “well they’re going to find a way to do it so we can’t successfully prohibit their activities. We might as well let them do what they think best” It’s the same argument used in passing out condoms. Just because saying no is a hard line to take doesn’t mean it’s worthless. Yes, dance is self expression but the kind of dance we’re talking about is expressing the desire to have sex not a love of beauty or artistry or any message beyong a primal urge. If the kids are dancing like that and making such a show in public, what do you think they’re doing in private? Of course this line of reasoning only works if you believe teenagers having sex is wrong. I happen to feel that way and the high school dances here in my town are raunchy enough to have many members of my community complaining. Many families have children who have opted to host their own dances because of the degradation going on at the public school events. Okay I’m done. You did ask . . . :)

  • Izzy says:

    Believe it or not, I don’t disagree, but I think the schools should focus more on setting limits and having frank discussions of why certain things are not appropriate rather than doing away with dances altogether.

  • toyfoto says:

    This is where I turn into the social conservative I am not: I think it’s perfectly fine for schools to determine what’s appropriate behavior for dances and enforce those rules. School dances are not a “right” due students. When I first heard about the story I was also thinking: “ya-ya, too close, suggestive whatever” … but after I read about it, my thinking turned to the idea that what’s so wrong about teaching kids to respecting themselves and respecting rules? Like it or not we all have to follow rules, and I agree with this principal — a school setting is not an appropriate place for simulating sex on a dance floor. Let ‘em wait a few years and hit the clubs if they feel they need self expression, otherwise let them express themselves in their parents’ basements with the stereo turned up like we used to.

  • Izzy says:

    I’m totally with you although I think we have different ideas about how to accomplish the same goal…which is showing kids why it’s important to have some self-respect and conduct themselves appropriately.

  • If the kids are bumping and grinding at school dances in front of their teachers and chaperones, who knows what they’re doing at each other’s houses when the parents aren’t home?

    That is, while there may be some restrictions in place at school dances, it’s not going to change much outside of those limited circumstances. I’m all for self-respect and appropriate conduct, but that’s something that I think starts at home, not in the school gym.

  • dennis says:

    I am not a fan of banning the dances, but if there is an issue, perhaps get more chaperones?

  • Izzy says:

    Regretfully, I think parents don’t even KNOW that their kids are doing this which tells me a couple things…

    a) They’re clueless or not capable of responsible parenting or too embarrassed to interact with their kids on that level


    b) They’ve missed the window of opportunity, which I think is obvious if their kids are behaving in such a way.

    But yes, ideally, such discussions would start at home and therefore not need to be addressed at school.

  • TB says:

    As someone who grew up in a strictly regulated environment where dancing of any kind was not allowed, in my opinion, if you ban it, it just puts a big red bow on forbidden fruit. And it’s just dancing, in a supervised environment, with no drugs and alcohol involved – as you said, so much better than most of the stuff I did as a teenager.

    And I agree with you. Kids are emulating what they see on MTV and at the Superbowl halftime show and on just about every other television channel. It’s gross and tasteless, but unless you want to shelter them from images in pop culture forever, they’re going to be exposed to it at some point.

    Besides, as someone who never learned to dance and now has to fake it after LOTS of alchohol, from a purely personal standpoint, I think it’s cruel and unusual punishment not to let your kids express themselves through dancing.

  • I agree that the root of this problem begins with education (or in some cases, re-education) in the in home. I think many parents just don’t think to tell their kids what IS and is NOT acceptable behavior. Having said that, sometimes, as you say Izzy, the window of opportunity has closed, and the schools are forced to pick up the slack where parents have lapsed. It really disgusts me when parents think schools are responsible for teaching their kids EVERYTHING and then bitch when their kids act inappropriately or, worse, illegally and then blame it on the teachers and administrators.

    I too was guilty of pub crawling in my teens when my mother thought I was out doing something much more benign like watching a movie or sleeping over at a friend’s house. When I was growing up, legal drinking age in FL was 18, and at 16 it was easy to fake your way into bars. As you said, this was such much more dangerous than dirty dancing at a school dance in front of chaperones.

    Yes, dances are a privilege and not a right, but I also feel they are a “rite of passage” when it comes to school. Extra-curricular activities are what give kids a place to become better social creatures. I think it’s important to set the standard on acceptable behavior at said social events, and then if the students violate the code of behavior, then there should be ramifications (banning them from future dances, suspending them from their next ball game, etc.).

  • Momish says:

    In all honesty, if a school banned a particular dance, I would have to wonder why and check it out. I don’t know what freaky dancing is (totally dating myself here), but I would bet it is graphic. It would probably make other students and teachers, etc. uncomfortable. I would bet they are banning for that reason. Trying to be fair to everyone that might attend. Yet, I tend to agree that schools go too far at times restricting students without explaining why or giving alternatives that are socially acceptable.

  • Ed Bacchus says:

    Just like everything else in life, there should be limits. Banning dances all together is extreme, but if you fail to change your behavior, then you may be banned from attending the next one. After all, we all remember going behind the school to ….well you get the picture. And that’s another discussion.

  • javajabber says:

    Having raised two daughters who are now just out of highschool 2 years, these types of issues were always a concern … appropriate clothing for school was another.

    But they have always had a healthy respect what is or isn’t appropriate behavior regardless of the environment. And they acquired this attitude because it’s what we taught them … and showed them by example.

    They both went to dances. They both related how disgusted they were with the antics on the dance floor. They still went to the dances but did not exploit themselves or their self-esteem through dance.

    Canceling the dances does not solve the problem. The problem is not with the dance or the music … it’s with the values we instill in our young adults BEFORE they become young adults.

    You get what you give. Self-respect and self-esteem can not be squashed by peer pressure. We knew that we had to teach them how to stand by their values and not give into peer pressure about dancing, what clothes to wear, whether or not to drink or do drugs, and many other issues facing today’s kids.

    It’s not easy and it takes a lot of time. But so worth it in the end.

  • Lisa G says:

    It just reflects the sexualization of kids. It’s disturbing. And I am no prude, believe me!


  • Stacy says:

    This is modern day. We’re certainly in no “Footloose” county situation. Let the kids have their fun on the dance floor. It’s the drugs, violence and real deviant behaviors we have to worry about!

  • jen says:

    Iz, right on as usual. standing up and applauding you from here (in california, sin central, nonetheless)

  • I don’t know what to say. First of all, I thought “Freak Dancing” was circus midgets who liked breakdancing – thanks for schoolin’ me on that.

    Second, Nobody puts baby in a corner.

  • MotherPie says:

    I’ve always thought that it was harder to raise children now than it ever has been. I felt like I was the only lonely voice amidst all the cultural trash messages. However, the blogs are allowing voices to be heard outside of the MSM, publicly. This is one of the most extremely beneficial things of the mom blogs, imo.

  • Stephanie A. says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more. At least this dancing is in a theoretically controlled setting. Completely banning something usually does the opposite of the intention and these kids will only be more curious about it rather than know that gettin’ freaky is just one of many options. That’s what completely bugs me about how people treat children- as though they cannot, and should not, make their own decisions on these types of things.

    On the topic of giving kids self-respect, one thing that my dad said to me when I was young has always stayed with me, “Stephanie, you know the difference between right and wrong. YOU know it.” Him saying that gave me so much respect and credibility that when it came time to make choices, 98% of the time, I really did know what was right for me.

  • My first reaction is to balk at the limitations of a individual’s personal freedoms. It seems as though the government is becoming more and more entrenched in our personal lives, telling us what we can and can’t do with our bodies, and our choices.

    However, as a parent, and a free thinking individual, I have to say, I sort of agree with the banning of that type of behaviour. If you can’t control that behaviour, than the next logical thing would be to take away any opportunity to use the offensive behaviour.

    Obviously, it is a combination of poor parenting and today’s culture that has contributed to this problem in the first place. I agree that self-respect needs to start at the home, and today’s parents can not be as easy going as they seem to be.

    Kid’s need boundaries. Parents (and teachers) need to provide those boundaries. Even if it means stepping on a few personal freedoms for a short period of time.

    That being said, what type of freaky school dances do you Yanks have. Up here in Canada, the freakiest things that ever happened at our dances was when the two kids with braces got tangled up when macking out with each other on the dance floor. Our dances aren’t even well attended. Tended to be a bit of a geek festival, if you know what I mean…

  • toyfoto says:

    As I recall, the principal banned the dances because they couldn’t get kids to behave in an appropriate manner and they couldn’t get the board to agree on a course of action. He said he would reinstate the dances if, and only if, parents and administration got on board to lay down the rules and enforce them.

    I see nothing wrong with that to tell you the truth. I understand that banning dancing seems extreme, but I think the facts of this particular case justify the decision. It’s not as if they guy is saying dancing is evil, he’s just saying this particular fad is inappropriate for a school setting and since students are not ahearing to the rules the consequences are …. no dances.

    I think we are confused about personal freedoms, though. Yes, we have certain rights, we have the right to act and speak like jackasses and dance like fools, but that doesn’t mean we are free from our actions repercussions.

    There is a time and a place for most things. Tell you the truth, I’d rather save the argument for appropriateness for public breastfeeding. I am still having a hard time believing in this day and age woman are being ejected from planes for nursing children.

  • Izzy says:

    To me the primary issue is how the schools are handling the matter, which I feel is ineffective. And yes, there is a lot of discussion about the schools role versus the parents role but IMO this transcends those lines. These kids need to be met where they\’re at if we are to reach them at all.

  • toyfoto says:

    I agree that this may seem as if it’s being handled ineffectively, and I would agree this transends school vs. parents, but I would disagree that kids have to be met where they’re at. We make excuses for behaviors for any number of reasons … the media, society, etc. but those are excuses. Perhaps the school should just throw the offenders out and let the dance go on. That’s a choice the school administration could have made. But it didn’t. It chose a route it hoped might garner pressure from other sources for substanative change: namely parents and students who were missing out. … I think it’s their turn to step up.

    Does it matter in the long run? Probably not. Will the people bumping and grinding on the dance floor go to college and land respectable jobs? Hopefully. But do I think you can explain to a kid who feels theirs nothing wrong with such expression to curtail it in a public place? Probably not. Rules are rules, I know I didn’t like or understand some of them when I was that age but I followed them and later it made sense.

    Sometimes I think understanding doesn’t really happen until maturity.

    Great post, great food for thought. Thanks for entertaining my devil’s advocacy.

  • toyfoto says:

    Duh … I meant I DON’T think you can explain why something is inappropriate to the kids who think there’s nothing wrong with it and make them understand. Sorry.

  • mara says:

    Interesting post, Izzymom, it makes me feel torn both ways. On the one hand, I’m not that far removed from highschool (well, at 25. Let me have my illusions please), and the idea of censoring the dance floor makes me both laugh and cringe. But on the other hand, ‘freak dancing’ is a whole ‘nother animal than the dirty dancing I so fondly remember. Dancing freaky means that the guys are coming up *behind* the girls and dancing *against* their backsides… with or without the cooperation of the girls in question. It’s strangely anonymous, and incredibly objectifying. Dancing–basically all dancing– is something that involves two people acting together– just like sex, I guess. Freaky dancing is one person (the guy) acting on a much more passive *reciever*. I think the problem is not so much dancing=sex, as freaky dancing = date rape and objectification.

  • Izzy says:

    I think in the cases referenced, particularly in the NPR piece, girls were willing particpants, although there may have been some that weren\\\’t. I just don\\\’t know but I would hope that if someone were being assaulted or touched against their will, that getting law enforcement involved would be considered as a course of action.

  • toyfoto says:

    But that’s the problem. (sorry, pet peeve alert). We say we don’t expect kids to know where the line is, because gah … look at all the sexing up of everything … and then call police first thing whenever the “dancing” goes too far? I mean there have been kindergartners pulled out of school in handcuffs for kissing girls or touching them. …

    We’ve got to stop this nonsense of overreacting.

    I think looking at the situation, giving a warning, and telling people what comes next is the sage course of action. This stuff, which in my opinion is arbitrarily enforced, just makes it harder for everyone to understand what’s truly dangerous.

    We’ve got sex offenders being pushed out of communities left, right and sideways, they end up transient and homeless, and even more of a danger all because no one wants them in plain sight on their street.

    Seriously, what if this kid, who’s “just dancing” in his opinion gets a sex crimes rap at 16 or 17?

  • Izzy says:

    Kindergarteners in handcuffs? Of course I agree that that is absurd. But we\’re discussing high school students…

    The calling of law enforcement is based on the premise that, as I have suggested repeatedly, the lines HAVE been drawn, that the students HAVE been involved in a discussion about what is appropriate. You seem to think that I don\’t want anyone held accountable and that\’s just not the case. I think kids are plenty able to be held accountable, once they have been TAUGHT where those lines are and been TAUGHT what it is to have respect for themselves and others.

    In a society where everything is oversexualized, kids DO need to be taught that life is NOT like a music video. If a girl does not indicate that she wants someone coming up and rubbing his crotch on her ass and it has been made clear to that boy that it is, in fact, considered a form of assault, and he does it anyway, then most certainly he should be held accountable because it\’s no different than him groping her with his hands.

    I think just up and banning dances is the most nonsensical and most ineffective overreaction of all. Nobody learns anything that way. In a kids eyes, that\’s just a bunch of adults ruining their fun. There\’s no lesson, no discussion, no dialogue and kids NEED that more than ever.

    I don\’t expect that we will see see eye to eye on this issue and I don\’t have the time to continue debating it so I\’m going to suggest that we respectfully agree to disagree.

    Thank you for a most stimulating and thought-provoking afternoon :)

  • Belle says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Kids need rules and boundaries and structure but when those things don’t jibe with everything they’ve gleaned from pop culture until this point, you can’t expect them to care about obeying those ules or caring about those boundaries. Discussing the reasons for these rules and why they should follow them as well as why they should have more respect for themselves are truly the keys to getting their attention. If girls knew how boys really felt about their promiscuous behavior (they have no respect for those girls and think of them as disposable) and boys knew how unmanly it really is to degrade themselves and women, perhaps they would be more inclined to conduct themselves with a bit more decency. Keeping the lines of communication open is the best way to get compliance from teens and if their parents arent’ going to talk with them, then why shouldn’t the schools give it a try? It’s no different from having ethics and character education.

  • Peetsmom says:

    I didn’t read all the comments, so I apologize if someone already mentioned this…but WTF with the teenage girl throwing down the “cultural heritage” crap??? There is a generation of entitled – I – can – do – whatever – I – want – because – I’m – XY or Z – and – if – you – don’t – let – me , – then – by – God, – you – MUST – be – a – racist!” kids out there. And frankly, this scares me.

  • Heather says:

    Amen as to the cause, but I have to also add that often parents aren’t helping kids learn what’s acceptable behaviour, even if it’s their job. I get moms at youth court here wearing “I want to be barbie, that bitch has everything” shirts with leather mini skirts gawking at every man in a suit walking by. So often teachers and schools end up having to be the parents – it’s not right, but often if the schools don’t say something, parent don’t.

  • Izzy says:

    God, that’s really pathetic. And certainly, parents should be the first round of defense and then schools should probably pick it up from there since the behaviors are occurring at school functions. Basically, it really DOES take a village to raise a child and nobody wants to acknowledge that anymore (probably because it was the title of Hillary Clinton’s book…lol)

    I just feel like if everyone would stop passing the buck and do what’s best for the kids AND society instead of what’s easiest, none of this would even be an issue. But I’m an idealist at heart and it’s possible that me and my ideals are very misguided.

  • marcie says:

    It’s kind of like the new law that doesn’t let 16 year old drivers have other teenagers in the car, my 36 year old self loves it. My 16 year old self would of hated it!

  • Outright banning… that sets off alarm bells for me. But I do think that something would have to be done. Aside from the obvious need for effective communication with kids, this is a case where I think some supervision might be required. Chaperones, teachers in attendance – these might seem as restrictive, but as a former (very) awkward teenager, I have to say that I might actually have welcomed it. We assume that kids WANT to do these things – perhaps some, even many, do, but what about peer pressure? There are probably many kids who would breathe a big fat sigh of relief if the pressure to be sexy at dances were lessened – even forcibly lessened. But maybe this is just me – I was awkward and would have LOATHED those kind of dances, just out of sheer embarassment.

    Again, banning is not, I don’t think, the right way to go, but some intervention sounds necessary.

  • wordgirl says:

    The whole obsession with Dirty Dancing is being talked about here, too. Even in our middle schools. I do a lot of volunteering for school stuff, but I’ve managed to avoide dance duty. Maybe I should check it out. And by the way…come see my new Christmas banner. I’m trying to get myself into the “spirit” early.

  • Maniacal says:

    Wow, this sounds an awful lot like what our grandparents said to our parents about the suggestive hip grinding of Elvis!!! THAT FREAK! lol

    Funny how all of a sudden when YOUR the parent your NOT A FAN of SUGGESTIVE HIP GRINDING anymore!!

    It’s all relative. It just means we are getting old! bah!

  • I personally think cracking down on dances isn’t the solution. In fact it will just drive the kids to go somewhere “less public” to party the way they want. I know that’s what we did!

  • Peetsmom says:

    Was thinking of this post last night when I watched about 30 seconds of the American Music Awards performance by Snoop Dog and some other guy…both of them could have been rapping about turkey dinner but who would notice with those completely skanky dancers that were on stage with them. Sad Sad commentary on the U S of A. Really quite embarassing. Sigh…

  • I’d only be reiterating what has already been said. I agree with you, and those commenters who think that outright banning is the wrong approach. The iron fist parenting style doesn’t solve the problem, and all of that.

    Our culture is partly to blame, yes. Absolutely. How debased do we have to get before we realize that it’s affecting our kids, and it always has? It’s not about prudishness, but appropriateness; age appropriateness.

    I agree, too, about having open communication and talking about making good choices. We haven’t had the sex talk yet, but we will soon. She’s five, and from what I have seen that’s old enough for a stripper pole. Sheesh!

  • brawvu says:


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