Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Hey Kids. . . Your Dance Has Been Cancelled. . . .
Man oh man are things going to heat up here in Lancaster County. The front page of today's paper sports this headline: "Lewd dancing roils schools." The article reports on the trend among several area school districts to cancel the homecoming dance. The cancellation cause isn't bad weather, a flu epidemic, or even threats of violence. Nope. It's the unwillingness of kids to heed warning upon warning to cease and desist when it comes to freaking, grinding, and dirty dancing on the dance floor.
Out in the dark regarding this youth culture trend? You can get caught up by chatting with any secondary school teacher who's served as a dance chaperon over the last few years. Earlier this year, a teacher in another state approached me to tell me about what he was seeing (sadly) when he served as a chaperon at the high school's dances. He told me that not only do the girls wear short skirts, but they were removing their underwear, heading out to the dance floor, hiking up their skirts, and then dancing (in a variety of ways) up against the guys.
Back in 2001 I wrote an article on the dirty dancing trend entitled "Freaking Out On The Dance Floor." In that article, I listed several things that were fueling the trend. Here's what I wrote:
First, in today's cultural climate, why shouldn't kids freak-dance? After all, this emerging generation of kids has grown up in a culture that encourages free sexual expression without bounds. To them, it's normal behavior.
Second, the mainstream media has taught them how to freak-dance and encouraged the practice. In a classic case of life imitating art, kids who've been raised by MTV are only mimicking the visual and lyrical messages of song's like Sir Mix-a-lot's "Baby Got Back," Sisqo's "Thong Song," and Mystikal's "Shake Ya Ass".
Third, kids say freak-dancing is a way to express themselves and have fun. Teenagers have always stretched the edge beyond the comfort zone of previous generations in an effort to do something new, unusual, unique, and rebellious. Freak-dancing certainly fits the bill.
Fourth, we live in a postmodern culture that values limitless freedom of expression. Kids say that freak-dancing is an enjoyable way to express themselves. It's not surprising that efforts to limit or prohibit the practice have been met with youthful resistance.
Fifth, freak-dancing is seen as a non-threatening way to socialize. Teenagers are social beings who long for intimacy, relationship, acceptance, and connections. Because it is often done with anonymous partners, freak-dancing fosters what kids see as "closeness."
And finally, kids who freak-dance argue there's nothing indecent about it because "it's not sex." Even though most kids say freak-dancing is somewhat arousing, they increasingly see "sex" as the act of vaginal intercourse and nothing less. Add to that the postmodern belief that there are no moral absolutes, and who can say that freak-dancing is wrong?
Nine years have passed and these values along with others are even more rooted in the fabric of youth culture, who kids are, what they believe, and how those beliefs inform their behavior.
While I know there will be many parents and kids who protest the decision as an intrusion on the right of free expression among kids, sometimes we need to step in and protect our kids from themselves. That's the problem with declining morals. Once we lose our ability to police ourselves, anything goes and in order to prevent all out anarchy, external constraints and limits must be imposed. Or, we could just let nature take its course.
Over the course of the last decade we've seen the world of youth culture become more infected with the viruses of objectification, sexual violence, body-image pressure, and the results of these things that victims have to deal with both now and for the rest of their lives. Did it all start on the dance floor? No. But what's happening on the dance floor both maps out proper behavior for kids and mirrors society's widely-held standards.
What I wrote back in 2001 stills holds true today: "The envelope's been stretched again. What was once on the fringe is now mainstream. One can only wonder what lies ahead out there on the attitudinal and behavioral edge of youth culture. We've got our work cut out for us. We need to talk to our kids about standards of Godly behavior, decency, modesty, and morality. We should set rules and tell them that freak-dancing is wrong. Why? Because it corrupts God's standards for His wonderful gift of sexuality. We should monitor what they watch and what they listen to as media outlets continue to gain influence on young values, attitudes, and behaviors. Freak-dancing is another wake-up call for diligent parenting and aggressive ministry to children and teens."