Grinding, or Freak Dancing, Grinds Teachers' (and Parents) Gears at School Dances
So how do you see what grinding - AKA freak dancing - is all about?
Well, step into any school dance - ranging from a costume ball in the school gymnasium to an (otherwise) elegant senior prom at a posh hotel's ballroom.
You see the same things happening on the dance floor: pairs of bums to private parts (all clothed) swaying close to each other to a rap song you have disapproved of since hearing it. The students call the dance "grinding" - or by any other name, "freak dancing" or "the nasty."
You really want to break up the pairs and tell the DJ to play some music in which students consider "uncool." You want to get on the microphone, have the technicians turn on the lights, and tell the students to just stop it. You know that you're not a prude who wants only ballroom dance music that your mother danced to or 19th century dance music composed by any given Strauss family member.
As a chaperone at a school dance, what should you do since virtually all the students in the dance floor "do it?"
Grinding Grinds Grownups' Gears
Let's face it - grinding happens on dance floors in school dances, whether they are in lavishly decorated banquet halls or dowdy school gymnasiums. Students think it's part of their culture, and they blame music videos, other TV shows that especially feature music suited for it.
Dancing it is just too easy that even preschoolers can dance it. Many parents and teachers think that it's too suggestive for their liking, mainly because that type of social dance gives its dancers the illusion of stimulating sex in clothing. Besides thinking that it's part of their lives, why do students do it in defiance?
Music for Freaking
Grinding can be done with any "cool" music out there. Mainly, students strongly associate front-side-to-bum gyrating to hip-hop because it's a common dance feature. That music genre depicts men in baggy jeans and tees thrusting their front-sides with hotpants or skinny jeans-covered booties of girls.
Another music suitable for freak dancing is the reggaeton, an urban Latin dance genre that also has pulsating beats. A term of that type of dancing to that music is known as the perreo, after the Spanish term for "dog."
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When the Controversy Is Not Only National
By any other name, dancing in an overly sexualized form is wrong in school functions involving dancing. But the United States isn't the only nation to be concerned about the dance - in Latin America, the perreo is also controversial there. Puerto Rico's senator, Velda Gonzalez, campaigned against its music genre, the reggaeton, and bashed it for its overtly sexual references. Ditto for Cuba, whose fraction of the people agree that it raises fear of the extinction of face-to-face dancing like the salsa.
There are dances considered indecent in the bygone years before grinding invaded high school functions with dancing. The waltz was one of them.
'Dirty Dancing' Controversy is Not New
The historic predecessor to lewd dances such as "the nasty" is the waltz, but why did a ballroom dance cause such moral panic?
Well, when it pervaded Europe in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, moralists shockingly watched couples dance too close together. Thus, many towns banned the dance altogether, mainly by Catholic officials.
At the turn of the 20th century, the tango came to Europe and North America as another lewd dance from Argentina. That outraged the Roman Catholic officials at the Vatican, who deemed it immoral and prohibited by followers of their faith.
Regency Era "Freaking"
In the 1950s, the late rocker Elvis Presley appalled adults by gyrating his pelvis in from of audiences. Parents of his fans as well as others who were in the same position compared his movements to masturbation. Thus, televisions filmed him from the waist up. Another decade later, the twist also drew ire from grownups, thus schools banned it from dances.
Then, in the late 80's, the idea of grinding was born through dances such as "the bump" and the Brazilian Lambada. The first bans on such dancing came about as early as 1993, when a high school canceled its homecoming dance. The popularity of front-side-to-bum gyrations exploded in the early 2000s, and that led to a wave of bans in school dances across the nation.
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Contracts Have Students Facing Off and Spacing Off
So how do high schools put a lid on improper dancing, let alone pelvis-to-hiney gyrating? One way to do so is to have students and parents sign a contract dictating what forms of dancing are and are not appropriate. (Many contracts of the type also dictate dress code, but that's another story.)
The dance moves of the forbidden group include touching private parts, feet off the dance floor, bending over, PDA (public display of affection), or straddling legs. Also, campaigns that bar front side-to-butt dancing include "Face-to-Face with Some Space" and "Dance Like Grandma's Watchin'."
But many students see mutual agreements and campaigns not to dance lewdly as out of whack. They know that they will do it anyway, regardless of whether a chaperone or school administrator patrols the catering hall or not. To solve this, they also add that students should wear wristbands. If he or she grinds and an adult catches them, he or she would cut his or her band off and ask him or her to leave.
Lights, Uncool Music, No Bump 'n' Grind
If contracts are not enough to dissuade students from the grind (dance), few schools decide to turn on the lights and put of lame music if anyone does that dance on the floor.
One high school threatened to turn on the lights and play Burt Bacharach hits and one school even interrupted the dance mix by playing the theme song of kids' show Barney and Friends to deter freakers. But students would not only react irrationally because the music is far from being cool, but they would think that the scenarios would be merely hilarious.
Ballroom Dance Lessons, Anyone?
Few schools remedy the grind dance problem by offering students to take ballroom dance lessons. One school in Maryland offered them to students and they adapted to them in a positive light.
"Most adults would agree that the bumping and grinding way that teens dance is inappropriate, but it's not enough to just tell the kids not to dance like that. I think they need appropriate alternatives," said one guidance counselor. If schools impose mandatory dance classes for attendants of their dances, instructors would likely teach them the salsa, cha-cha-cha, and the once-lewd dance that was as bad as freaking in the late 18th century.
Will it solve the grinding problem? Probably not - not all teenagers are into the strains of foxtrot, East Coast swing, or Viennese waltzes.
Although there are a lot of good merengue and salsa songs they like to listen and dance to, they consider mandatory lessons very old-fashioned to begin with. They believe that school administrators are turning otherwise freestyle dance parties into stuffy cotillions better suited to the 1800's - particularly in proms and homecoming dances.
Canceling all the Dances When It's Too Much
An extreme measure to squelch "doggystyle dancing" is to cancel all school dances until further notice. That move harms students more than it benefits moralists. Seniors miss the chance of attending prom as their last get-together before graduation. Students would find something else to do or be completely bored on homecoming weekend. How can teachers keep students happy while they sanitize school dances?
Most People Against Grinding Agree With Jenna Marbles
Teens have the right to dance in any form they want - it's just their way of expressing themselves. But although they complain that they infringe on their artistic freedoms, schools teach them what is appropriate or not. Grind dancing, from "the bump" to the "(New) Jersey Turnpike," is one of the forbidden dances.
Teachers really don't need to impose mandatory and super-formal quadrille or cotillion dance lessons that would be suited for a palace to put a damper of freak dancing. They should teach kids common sense, even in dance.
Ditto for parents - have them teach dances they danced in school themselves. They will soon adapt and they will be less apt to join the grinding fun.
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