Teenagers

School Principal Bans Dancing, Blames Form of Entertainment No Living Teen Has Ever Used

Did teens learn about grinding from illicit VHS tapes?

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Kids these days: always watching VHS tapes and dancing provocatively and getting into mischief. Thank goodness we have educators like high school principal Chris Record to keep them in line. Record has cancelled the dances at Gorham High School in Gorham, Maine, due to an epidemic of "grinding"—i.e. back-to-front dancing—according to CBS Boston:

Record details to parents exactly what grinding entails, and says it's making dance chaperones uncomfortable.

"Grinding basically involves a girl having her back and buttocks pushed up/pulled up against the boy's groin with the boy's hands on her hips and other places," he writes [in a letter to parents].

He also says younger students have complained about being pressured to participate in grinding. Last year, most students walked out of a homecoming dance after being reminded that grinding was prohibited.

"The following week, GHS was disrupted by an uprising of sorts by the seniors and juniors, demanding that grinding should be allowed," the principal writes.

I admit that the moral panic over grinding has always confused me. Is back-to-front dancing really more suggestive than front-to-front dancing? Why is the latter preferable? I don't get it.

But at least I'm not as out of step with youth culture as Principal Record, who blames grinding culture on a bizarre trio of entertainment ills:

"It is by no means the students' fault, but the dancing they have witnessed on MTV/VHS/movies involves primarily only sexually suggestive grinding," Record writes.

VHS? As in, this? No, I don't think very many kids picked up grinding from VHS tapes. I doubt seriously that a significant number of teenagers has ever seen a VHS tape. It was old technology when I was in high school, and that was 10 years ago.

I presume Record was referring to VH1, a sister channel to MTV, but the mistake does not inspire great confidence that his decision to ban grinding is well-supported by the evidence.

I say let the kids dance. Prohibiting a form of expression that many of the teens clearly want to engage in will only create distrust between the teens and the adults. High schoolers aren't children; in the state of California, they are going to be educated about the proper way to consent to sex. Grinding seems fairly tame by comparison.

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