A furor over what Concord High School administrators call an "overtly sexual" style of dancing at school dances has split the school community: There are those who defend the students'right to dance however they want and those who believe the moves are just plain inappropriate.
Principal Gene Connolly is with the latter group. He said the school will cancel all remaining dances, including the upcoming homecoming dance, unless students step forward to help halt the "grinding."
"This style of dancing is wrong," Connolly told parents at a Parent-Teacher-Student Organization meeting Tuesday night. "If you were to see it, you would be equally offended."
But some students and parents don't see it that way. They say that like the jitterbug and disco before it, grinding is just a sign of the times.
Oh, dear! How long has this been going on?
According to Connolly, students began grinding at Concord High dances about three years ago. Administrators tried to intervene, pointing out that the school handbook says all dance styles "must comply with standards of modesty and safety" and mandates that dance partners face each other.
When that didn't work, administrators met with the student senate last year and drafted a "dance memo of understanding."In the memo, the students acknowledged that current dance trends "can appear sexual." They also said the administration "has made it clear that they do not want to police our dancing styles."
So what set the principal off?
The situation came to a head Saturday at the first dance of the year, which was attended by 350 students. By the time the first slow song was played, a half-dozen boys had been warned repeatedly to quit grinding, staff and students said. When they persisted, the boys were asked to leave. About 150 students followed.
"It was eerie," said Ben Nicholson, the senior class president. "There was a controlled calm to it all."
The students headed to the parking lot, Nicholson said, but changed their minds after being told they couldn't congregate on school grounds. Someone suggested they go to White Park instead, but the police were already there. So the students proceeded to Rollins Park, where Nicholson said they played music and danced.
At Rollins Park, Nicholson persuaded the students to turn down the music because of the city's nighttime noise ordinance. Then, he gave an impromptu speech from atop a truck bed, telling his peers it was understandable that they were upset.
Senior Caitlind Cooper was one of the students who gathered at the park. Addressing the PTSO and Connolly on Tuesday night, she objected to the way the situation was handled.
"We go to a dance to have fun, and you telling us how to dance is not fun," Cooper said.
I suppose that as long as schools sponsor dances then the old fogies will complain about the primitive mating rituals that take place on the dance floor. I say let the YMCA hold the dances. School is for being bored to death in classes that carefully soothe one's self-esteem, not for dancing.