"Freaking" Out

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The waltz emerged in the mid-eighteenth century, though it was not seen in ballrooms until the early nineteenth century. It was considered scandalous due to the closeness of the couple dancing. Since then dancing has come a long way. People—especially teenagers—are constantly coming up with new outrageous dances. It seems that each of these dances is more sexual than the last. The latest and greatest dance craze among teenagers has caused much controversy in the past few years. The “freak dance” is a very sexually explicit dance that many schools are beginning to ban, and justly so. It is a dance that belongs in clubs, not at high school dances.


How can people stop teenagers from freak dancing when some don’t even know what it is? Freak dancing has various names. Freak dancing and grinding are the most common names for this type of dance. To freak dance, one partner stands behind the other while both partners rub their pelvises together in a circular motion in rhythm to the music playing. Those are just the basics, though. There are many variations, such as the partners facing each other instead of one standing behind the other, the way the partners’ pelvises rotate, dancing in a group, etc. Certain elements from the dance find their origins in movies like Dirty Dancing, and in dances to songs such as “Lambada” by Kaoma. These early versions of the freak dance are more “innocent” than the ones performed by students today. Freak dancing is usually done to rap/hip-hop, pop, techno, and Latin music because of the strong and “sexy” beat.


Some people believe that high school students and grinding do not mix; others feel they go together almost as well as peanut butter and jelly. A poll done by MSNBC titled “Newsvine –Should Schools Ban Grinding at Dances?” says that 3,212 voters out of a total of 5,730 believe that “high schoolers and grinding can only lead to trouble.” Some people think that it could lead to trouble because of the dance’s suggestive nature. Some adults and teens view it as simulated sex, which is quite accurate, because the dance imitates different sex positions. On the opposing side, teens (and some adults) consider freak dancing to be casual, and that it has no sexual meaning whatsoever. Some adults think that teenagers should be exposed to suggestive things like freak dancing so as not to “burst their bubbles” when they go out into the “real world.” In short, views on teenagers freak dancing are very black and white, but there are many different reasons to be for or against.


So where exactly do teens learn to dance like that? An article on the MSNBC website, “When Teens Grind, Parents and Schools Freak,” blames today’s media. The article states that “…many of today’s parents say sexuality is so ever-present in the media that it can be overwhelming to try to keep kids from going too far.” With the mention of media, things such as Adam Lambert’s performance at the American Music Awards in November come to mind. During his performance he led dancers around on leashes, bumped and grinded with them, and simulated oral sex. There are other sources of influence, though. Believe it or not, some teens pick up these dances from adults that they know personally. In Winnipeg, two teachers where suspended without pay after dancing inappropriately at a high school pep rally. A video titled “Two Teachers, One Chair” depicts a female teacher leaning back in a chair while a male teacher bobs his head and butt near her crotch. An article on The Globe and Mail website, “Teachers’ lap dance ‘a little too far’ for students,” points out that kids as young as thirteen were exposed. Teenagers can be—and are—influenced by everyone and everything around them.


A lot of schools are taking steps to prevent students from freak dancing. Many schools ban this suggestive style of dancing completely, while others create contracts for students to sign. These contracts usually forbid freak dancing, restrict what types of clothing one could wear, and describe the punishment for violating the contract. Other schools, like Minnetonka High School in Minnesota, take a more creative approach to prevent students from freak dancing at high school dances. Principal David Adney created the “Dance Like Grandma’s Watchin’” campaign. The name implies that students should dance as if their grandmother was watching, because who would dance explicitly in that situation? I know I wouldn’t. Adney uses silly videos to try to convince students not to grind at school dances. One video shows a student who is bandaged and depressed after a “grinding accident.” He believes that he’s “creating a culture of respect and inclusion.”
More people should learn about freak dancing, what it is, and why it’s important to keep out of high schools. Whether someone is okay with freak dancing or not, they need to realize that it is a dance that is unfit for younger eyes, and can make others—young, old, or even the same age—feel uncomfortable. Freak dancing is a type of dance one should expect to see at a night club, not performed by students at a high school or middle school dance. Schools should not be alone in the effort to prevent it either. Parents, older siblings, even other teens, ought to talk to teenagers about freak dancing. Teenagers need to learn why it is important to keep this dance out of middle and high schools. Some teens view freak dancing as a way to express themselves. This isn’t a question of whether or not teens are too young to express themselves in this particular fashion, but of obscenity and whether this type of dance is too suggestive to belong in a school setting. Teenagers need to remember, whether they wish to waltz or to freak dance, to dance like Grandma’s watching—at least while they’re in school.





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