Tag Archives: school dance chaperones

All Dressed Up and No Place to Go Go in the Spotlight!

by Deborah Joy Block, Director of Back to Basics Social Graces for Youth Program

Have you heard of the fable about the Emperor with no clothes? He travels through his kingdom making proclamations but his omission obscures his message. Unaware of his nakedness and with nobody daring to inform him, his nonverbal communication speaks volumes. Watching the Homecoming King and Queen,  a newly married couple or the First Couple at the Inauguration resort to the “bear hug sway” for their First Dance debut is equally awkward. These couples are royalty for the day and the dance floor spotlight is the most visibly dynamic kick off to the gala which officially invites all the other attendees to join the festivities on the dance floor.  In this comparison, both the Emperor and the couples being spotlighted have missed the opportunity to put their best foot forward.

Stepping through the dance studio door and admitting you need lessons to be able to dance as a partnership with someone else  doesn’t occur to most teens and is often the hardest part for people- especially males.  For those who initially express opposition to lessons, I ask them what their alternative plan is and they respond “the high school prom sway.”  I suggested that before settling on a decision they should videotape themselves and see if they can last the full length (a typical song is 3:45) without feeling bored or awkward then watch the full length dance on video from their guest’s perspective too.

According to proper etiquette, The First Dance is a formal obligation of honored guests to open up the dance floor for the rest of the guests to feel welcome and comfortable to dance and set the tone for the festivities. It is also the epitome of the Cinderella/Prince Charming moment at their ball. Unfortunately, many don’t realize that the awkward high school prom sway for 4 minutes in front of 200 people is not a desirable alternative to skipping dance lessons. Cutting the “bear hug sway” down to 90 seconds isn’t fooling anyone either. It just says that you are all dressed up with no place to go. There are countless reasons a person can conjure up to talk him/herself out of dance lessons but for every reason not to there are double the reason to go for it!

The dance lessons are a vulnerable space where couples learn about themselves and their partnership and where they learn appropriate boundaries or respectful physical contact unlike twerking, bump and grind or freaking which are not only degrading but will get teens kicked out of the prom by chaperones. The couples also feel pressurized because they are often juggling major undertakings such as part time jobs, full time school, hobbies, sports, and a social life. But dance lessons actually benefit and bleed into all of the above areas in useful ways that can be incorporated as a life skill for future occassions besides the prom. Can you imagine a speech with no microphone for all of the audience to be able hear? Unthinkable. Dance moves give voice to the First Dance as confident student leaders in the community demonstrating their maturity through cooperation and teamwork and setting the bar for healthy interpersonal relationships between males and females. With a little preparation, prom night has the potential to be the most magical, fairytale moment for everyone!

Deborah Joy Block is the Founder and Director of Back to Basics Social Graces Youth Program.   Block’s company has taught over 10,000 students of all ages. Block is most known for being the premier national expert on wedding dance preparation and founded the nation’s first wedding dance company called The Wedding Dance Specialists which has attracted celebrity couples and national media attention. Mrs. Block is available for guest blogging, interviews and to teach social skills, social graces and life skills programs on or off site. http://www.BackToBasicsManners.com

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Adults “Freak Out” over “Freak and Grind” at School Dances.

by Deborah Block, Director, Back to Basics

And with good reason.

For children who have not learned how to partner dance – a school prom can be a daunting challenge…Since they don’t know how to lead and follow and have no concept of personal space they tend to adopt what they see in popular media – – the freak and grind. Some use the excuse that it is simply a form of self expression or cultural norms but that is just an excuse since they actually know no other alternative. As a result schools across the country are taking matters into their own hands. Some are empowering students with actual skills while others are trying to curb innappropriate conduct with rules and contracts. Either way, it is making headlines. Many cultures around the world use solo and partner dancing to highlight rights of passage, rituals and even casual celebrations but for those who aren’t exposed to it growing up, it can be too hot to handle when they are thrown into the fire! Here are some examples of what parents, administrators and chaperones are doing to prevent that “spark” from turning into a wild fire:

  • In order to attend a dance at Walnut Hills High School in Evanston, students must sign pledges that they will not dress
    provocatively or engage in lewd dancing. Their parents must sign, too. “Grinding, bumping, fondling, humping, licking, booty dancing, rolling, kicking, mashing, shoving, wallowing, disrobing, sexual kissing, freaking, jacking, and whatever a chaperone deems improper and/or indecent will not be permitted.” Students who break the rules will be removed from the dance and assigned Friday School detention for the remainder of the year.

• In Guam high schools, National Honor Society members have been threatened with a suspension for dancing in an inappropriate manner.

• At Dunwoody High School in the Atlanta area, students were told that if they were caught “dirty dancing” those who violated the policy would be sent to a “timeout” room if caught.

• Gabriel Richard High School in Riverview, Mich., linked dance attendance to passing a quiz about dance floor behavior.

• A Brown Deer, Wis., high school has thrown students out of dances, sent letters home to parents and threatened to suspend youths caught dirty dancing.

• Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia canceled school dances beginning next fall until students can propose rules.

• Dances have been canceled at schools nationwide, including in suburban Los Angeles; Iowa City, Iowa; Anchorage, Alaska; and Bethany, Ky.

• Administrators at Union Grove High School in Wisconsin are aiming to curb risque moves at their January winter formal. To assure that students do not get too footloose, school brass have issued official dance rules. As seen below, the rules outlaw “sexual bending” and the touching of breasts, buttocks, or genitals. Leg straddling is also verboten. Additionally, students are on notice that “Both feet must remain on the dance floor at all times.” The dance “will be videotaped to insure the safety of all students attending,” and so administrators could presumably review the film for provocative moves that were initially missed by monitors.

reprinted in part from The Cincinnati Enquirer

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