Saturday was East Lyme High School's Homecoming Dance and though the cafeteria was jumping, this year there was decidedly less bumping and absolutely no grinding.
Following complaints from parents and students who were offended by what many saw as highly inappropriate dance moves, this year the high school decided to institute new rules for dancing.
It wasn't quite as extreme as the days of yore, when chaperones would carry rulers to measure the distance between dancers, but there were more teacher chaperones than there had been in years' past, high school principal Michael Susi said.
This year, too, every student attending had to present a permission slip from parents with the understanding that if they got too down and dirty, they would be ejected from the dance and their parents would be called.
The rules for what moves would be considered unacceptable weren't set in stone. Much like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's attempt to define obscenity, it boiled down to, "I know it when I see it."
"I don't want to tell them exactly what to do," said Susi. "It's nothing cut and dried, it's just being appropriate. They can figure that out."
Students themselves described the policy as "hands off," or perhaps more specifically, "hands off the floor"—the move that many found most offensive is called "four on the floor," which resulted in a lot of butts in the air.
"It was very disgusting," said Katelyn, a senior at East Lyme High School. "The new style is grinding and it got very dirty."
The Politics of Dancing
So how did the new rules go down?
"Like any rule, it's good and it's bad," said Katelyn. "It wasn't as lame as we thought it would be. Everybody had a lot of fun."
Susi said he thought it went pretty well too. There was a lot more emphasis on group dances and line dances, from the classic YMCA to the Cupid Shuffle. "A lot of students came up to me and said how much fun they had," he said.
By most accounts, everyone who went had a great time but the rules had a decidedly dampening affect on attendance.
"A lot of people are boycotting it," said Samantha Lee, a sophomore who is on the Student Senate and who was one of the people selling tickets this year. Last year she said they sold about 700 tickets to the dance. This year, she said they barely sold 300 and many of the sales were to freshmen. That's significant because, with tickets selling for $10 a head, this is one of the biggest student fundraisers.
"It sucks for us," said Samantha. "This is where you make all your money."
As fewer students attended the homecoming dance, Samantha said she's worried that her graduating class might not have enough money for Prom when the time comes.
Samantha points out that every generation has taken offense to the dance moves of the generation that follows it—and that's true. Even the stately waltz created quite a scandal when it was first introduced, because it involved an arm around the waist and, lest we forget, Elvis's pelvis was once deemed too obscene for television.
"I'm opposed to the rules," Samantha said. "A lot of us came because we wanted to try it out but it didn't work."
Do you think schools should have rules for dancing? Tell us in the comments!