Let’s dance again
Brunswick High School students are planning a Valentine’s Dance for the first time since 2009.
The dance — slated for Feb. 15 — is the first to be held at the school since objectionable dance floor behavior effectively ended the once-annual event.
Back then, it was a problem of mostly suburban kids emulating gyrations made famous by hip-hop and rap stars.
The style of dancing called “grinding”— suggestively and exaggeratedly simulating sex acts — proved too much for adult staffers and chaperones, many of whom vividly remembered how Elvis Presley’s infamous hip swivels sent their own parents and teachers into apoplexy.
In the three years hence, the only dancing at Brunswick High School has been the senior prom and, possibly, a spontaneous jig upon classes being finished in June.
Now students get another chance to revive what used to be a revered high school tradition of stressing out about whom to ask, how snazzily to dress, and whether one is cool enough — or too cool — to attend.
With help from the alumni association, members of the student government are planning and organizing the event. Decorating help is being handled by the cheerleading squad and other extracurricular groups.
Music will be via disc jockey, specifically which one is yet to be determined.
The obvious Hollywood clichés apply.
“I sort of feel like I’ve stepped into ‘Footloose’,” said Brunswick High School Principal Art Abelmann, referring to the classic 1984 movie.
In the film, a Bible-preaching town in the rural Midwest decides to ban dancing after local teenagers are killed in a car crash while on their way home from a dance in a neighboring town.
In this his first year as prin- cipal, Abelmann said one of the questions he fielded during his hiring interview was how he would handle school dances.
“My hope is that kids will behave responsibly and dress respectfully, and that this will be a chance for them to show that they can handle it,” he said.
Junior Isabella Jorgensen — who says she isn’t a big fan of dancing — was the first to push for their return.
“It’s just something that I think students should be allowed to experience,” she said. “I think it’s part of growing up. If you don’t give kids the chance to be responsible, they’ll never get the chance to prove they can be.”
Other local schools have continued to hold dances, although with less frequency than in the past.
Freeport High School still holds its usual homecoming and holiday semi-formal balls, as well as the occasional winter or spring dance. Administrators there say they’ve had no problems with student behaviors.
Likewise in Bath, Morse High School continues to hold student-organized dances.
“We always have a school resource officer at the dances and we monitor the ‘grinding’ as much as we can,” Principal Peter Kahl said. “But we’re actually finding that our dances are becoming less attended over the years. It’s getting harder to get seniors to go. It’s mostly freshmen, and they’re just standing around looking at each other.”
Although administrators “try not to make too big a deal of it,” Kahl said school assemblies often are used to explain appropriate behavior to students.
“We talk about it and if it’s really egregious, we’ll stop it,” Kahl said. “The simplest thing is to have adults walk around and just be present.”
In Brunswick, assemblies and class discussions already have begun to let youths know what’s expected of them.
Students will be asked to sign agreements, pledging respectful and legal behavior.
“I think teachers understand what we’re asking for,” Jorgensen said, “and I think the kids do, too.”