Grounded: New dance policy divides student opinion

Terrin Waack, Staff Writer

It is safe to say that Monday morning’s announcement from Mr. Sargeant left many students with mixed emotions. With the Winter Formal Dance coming up this Friday on Valentine’s Day, many couples – and single people – were looking forward to letting loose on the dance floor.

However, school staff have recently brought up the fact that they feel uncomfortable with how the students have been dancing. One dancing style in particular has become the reason many teachers do not want to chaperone dances because they feel it puts them in an awkward position: “grinding.”

These opinions have led the school to establish a new rule: no grinding during dances. With talk of the new rule floating around the school, students’ emotions range from anger to understanding. Anger because they feel they should be able to dance the way they want; understanding because they see how teachers may feel uncomfortable being around this type of dancing.

To clarify, grinding can be defined as a type of dancing that involves a female’s backside pressed up against a male’s front side as they move to the music. Mr. Sargeant made clear how the staff feels about this type of dancing and why the rule is now in place, but how do the people affected by the new policy feel about it?

“As a parent, I find [the rule] ridiculous. I know how teenagers dance,” said Mrs. Doll, parent of senior Brittany Doll. “When I was in high school, older people felt the same way. They thought our dancing was inappropriate too. I think that the school is overreacting and there are worse issues going on. The way our children dance is their choice and we have to understand we were the same way as teenagers.”

Having a parent express support for students to dance as they see fit might strike some as surprising, including senior Jack Barrett, who said the rule is the result of “a complete generational difference.” However, the generation gap may not factor into people’s opinions as much as the nature of the music school dances.

“The issue at hand is that they play club music, yet they don’t want people to act like it is a club – hypocritical,” Barrett said. Many students were on the same page as Barrett in regards to the music, agreeing that “the music is the scandalous part.”

However, it’s not just the music that is scandalous in other people’s eyes.

“[Mr. Sargeant’s] right – how uncomfortable it must be for teachers to have to supervise their teenage students rubbing themselves against their peers,” senior Anna Ivarson said. “If you’re going to do that, fine, but it is school and I have to agree that it is a little ridiculous for school dances.” Ivarson added that she has always enjoyed her time at the dances and hasn’t felt the need to grind to have fun.

Senior Cassandra Solarte feels the same way about the prevalence of grinding at dances.

“What ever happened to actual dancing?” Solarte said. “It honestly makes me feel uncomfortable seeing groups of my peers grinding on each other in a circle. Why can’t our generation be like every other prior to us and have a signature way to dance that isn’t just groping people on the dance floor? It’s embarrassing.”

While watching the dancing itself in action may be awkward and uncomfortable, senior Francisco Langunas looked at grinding from a different standpoint.

“Grinding limits who you can dance with,” Langunas said. “Personally, I would not feel comfortable with that level of touch with a good friend. It has the potential for making awkward moments and takes away from the friendliness of a simple offer to dance. I’ll be the one to say it: I think it over sexualizes things too much for a school dance.”

After growing up in a very religious Mexican household, Langunas came into Cary-Grove with no idea what to expect at the dances.

“If American people do not know how to dance Salsa and Merenge and Bachata, then what do they do when music is playing?” he said.

Clearly, students aren’t dancing any of these, especially to the music that plays during the dance. Year after year, the music is the same and the dancing has been the same – club music resulting in grinding. If the administration bans grinding, they may need to provide different music to push students to dance differently.

“You can’t take something away and not fill in the hole,” senior Andrea Norten said. She isn’t the only student who sees the music as leading to the outlawed behavior.

“If they are serious about this rule then they need to come up with different music for the dances,” senior Amy Jereb said. Senior Jack McGowan took this idea about the music to the next level.

“I suggested to Mr. Sargeant that we get a live band – less grinding and better music,” McGowan said.

“Live bands would stop grinding dead in its tracks,” senior Chris Grieco said. In response to this suggestion, Mr. Sargeant said that he likes the idea.

“We’ve never done it; doesn’t mean we can’t do it,” Mr. Sargeant said. “Obviously, we can’t do it for this dance coming up but I think it was an interesting suggestion – something we’re going to take up with Student Council.”

After years of allowing grinding, some students question if the teachers will enforce the new rule, while others believe they will enforce it and consider it “ridiculous.”

“Since practically most of the people that go to the dances do grind, that’s a lot of people that will get kicked out,” senior Katyln Devereux said.

Will they really kick out every student that grinds? The answer to that question is yes, they will.

“We are going to ask them to leave,” Mr. Sargeant said. “We made our expectations pretty clear with the announcement.”

One large question left lingering and unanswered in the halls in response to the unveiling of this new rule – will there be grinding allowed at prom?

“For prom, I think our expectations for prom will be the same,” Mr. Sargeant said. With that, it is clear that the new “no grinding” rule is here to stay.

While many other students had things to say against the rule, a handful went unpublished due to their comments being inappropriate or repetitive. Regardless of their views, students are being very vocal about their opinions overall.

Whether or not people follow the rule on Friday is up in the air, but they know what the consequences will be. Taking it all into consideration, one can see why each side feels the way they do.

One thing that both sides seem to agree on can be summed up in Barrett’s words: “There is a difference between grinding and just being raunchy. The raunchy dancing needs to go.”