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  1. #1
    Atomic Punk
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    05.16.18 @ 11:48 AM
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    Dirty Dancing '07; Nobody Freaks Baby In The Corner

    Students Push Past Limits In `Freaking'
    Schools Take On The New Challenge Of Dancing That Goes Beyond Dirty

    January 13 2007

    SIMSBURY, CT -- With each successive generation, it's getting harder for kids to one-up their predecessors when it comes to outrageous behavior.

    There is just less and less room to raise the bar - or lower it, depending on your perspective. But some students at Simsbury High School and across the country are giving it their best shot.

    Principal Neil Sullivan said the school has been trying to rid its dances of a style that has come to be called "grinding," "freaking" or "booty dancing," which aghast educators and parent chaperones have described as simulated sex with clothes on.

    High schools and even middle schools around Connecticut and the country have struggled with how to curb the dance craze, some coming face to face with it a decade ago. Exasperated school officials have tried everything from printing "no freaking" on prom tickets to canceling dances.

    At first Simsbury tried the subtle approach, such as having DJ's "change up" the music when the dance floor got out of hand and sending student leaders into classrooms to discuss appropriate behavior.

    "It didn't work," Sullivan said.

    Plan B - the "heavy handed, rule-bound" approach - dropped Wednesday, when the school sent letters to parents informing them that "back-to-front dancing" was henceforth banned, beginning with a dance scheduled for Friday night.

    It worked, but perhaps too well. It didn't take students long to show their disdain for the new rule. Although up to 70 percent of them usually attend dances, only three tickets were sold. (That's aside from the 30-plus-member cheerleading squad, which is required to attend such events.)

    At the end of school Friday, the administration announced the dance was canceled.

    In the letters to parents, Sullivan said, he didn't want to use words such as "intimate" to describe the dance style, for fear they would not grasp the gravity of his concern. After writing, "Please forgive us for going into detail," Sullivan and three other administrators proceeded to give parents a blow-by-blow of what their kids were up to.

    "In the kind of dancing that we are seeing, the male student stands directly behind the female student. He then places his hands either on his partner's hips or around her midsection. At the same time, he presses his pelvic region against his partner's buttocks. As the music plays, the students then thrust or grind to the beat of the music. Sometimes, girls will even bend over as they dance, placing their hands on the floor while their male partner grinds against their backside."

    Get the idea?

    "Parents needed to know this was something crude and inappropriate," Sullivan said Friday.

    It was all a little much for Drew Barrett, secretary of the senior class and an honor roll student, who quickly penned and distributed a parody of the letter.

    "I will (now) proceed to be as awkward as possible and describe the method of `back to front dancing,'" he wrote in the parody. "First the male selects a female and approaches her directly from behind. He then mounts her by placing his hands on her lower frontal area while pushing his pelvic region into her buttocks."

    Barrett included other terms for the dance, such as "getting jiggy with it," "gettin' low," "dirty dancing" or "fun." He also joked that the pregnancy rate at the school had increased 87 percent since the dance style was introduced and students had suffered "numerous groin and calf pulls" because they hadn't stretched before "getting their freak on."

    On Thursday night, shortly after leaving a rehearsal for "The Music Man," Barrett and several friends discussed the controversy, which they contended was overblown.

    "I've never seen a thrust on the dance floor," Barrett said. "It's more of a sway."

    Fellow senior John Bahrenburg said a few couples occasionally took it too far, but that has improved since the school started using a passive alcohol test to screen all students entering dances, establishing for the zillionth time the link between booze and lowered inhibitions.

    Besides, Bahrenburg said, "We don't know how to dance any other way."

    In discussions with students, some teachers have said freaking is demeaning, particularly for female students.

    "My teachers say that, but I think the girls are as much a part of it as the guys," said one girl who is a junior and asked that her name not be used.

    Opponents of the freaking ban acknowledge that some of their fellow students are uncomfortable with what happens on the dance floor, but added most of them don't go to dances.

    Chris Vagnini, a DJ for Cheshire-based Powerstation Entertainment who was scheduled to work Friday at Simsbury's dance, said freaking is common across the state. He often sees chaperones at high school dances tapping a student on the shoulder in an effort to create a little space between couples.

    Vagnini, 19, said freaking is the dance style of his generation, but some of what he sees on the dance floor is offensive.

    "You feel embarrassed for the person doing it," he said.

    On his own or prompted by teachers, he often changes up a freaking-prone rap or hip-hop song with a Frank Sinatra song or something like The Jackson Five's "ABC."

    That usually clears the floor, he said.

    A better solution, he said, is for students not to take the dance too far.

    "Just watch where the hands go," he advised. "There are a few places the hands can go. Don't put them anywhere else."

    Sullivan said the faculty and many parents have been supportive of the ban. He said he was disappointed at the student response, but said administrators would work with them to find a compromise.

    As for Barrett, he released his parody anonymously, but word soon got around. He was sitting in a class Thursday when Sullivan walked in, a copy of the parody in hand and an angry look on his face.

    "Drew, we need to talk," he said. "Now."

    Sullivan didn't budge as Barrett gingerly approached.

    "This is going to be bad," Barrett thought. "He's going to let me have it in front of the whole class."

    Sullivan held his steely gaze for a few seconds before breaking into a grin.

    "I had to get you back a bit," Sullivan said as he shook hands with a relieved Barrett.
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack. -- Gen. George S. Patton

  2. #2
    Atomic Punk
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    05.16.18 @ 11:48 AM
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    Freaked Out: Teens' Dance Moves Split a Texas Town School Leaders in Argyle

    Banned Hip-Hop Grinding; Parents Back 'Good Kids'

    ARGYLE, Texas -- Karen Miller, 53 years old, saw her first "freak dance" four years ago when she was chaperoning a high-school dance attended by her freshman daughter.

    One boy was up close to a girl's back, bumping and grinding to the pounding beat of the music.

    "I thought, 'That's just dadgum nasty,'" Ms. Miller recalls. "It really had me sick to my stomach."

    Ms. Miller took the initiative and broke it up. School employees at the dance seemed oblivious, she says.

    Freak dancing has become a hot-button issue in Argyle, Texas, where a school superintendent banned the popular teen dance from a homecoming dance.

    They're oblivious no longer. A new resolve by school officials in this booming Dallas suburb to crack down on sexually suggestive dancing -- and skimpy clothing -- has sparked a rancorous debate over what boundaries should be set for teenagers' self-expression. Argyle joins a long list of other schools around the country that have banned the hip-hop inspired dancing known as "grinding" or "freak dancing."

    But in Argyle, a once-sleepy farming community strained by explosive growth from an influx of well-to-do suburbanites, the controversy has gotten vicious. Some parents blame the newly installed school superintendent, Jason Ceyanes, 35, for ruining their children's October homecoming dance by enforcing a strict dress code and making provocative dancing off-limits. Disgusted, a lot of kids left, and the dance ended early.

    Mr. Ceyanes says he fears current cleavage-baring dress styles combined with sexually charged dancing could lead to an unsafe environment for students.

    "This is not just shaking your booty," he said. "This is pelvis-to-pelvis physical contact in the private areas...and then moving around."

    To make his point, Mr. Ceyanes held a community meeting and played a video pulled from YouTube demonstrating freak dancing. "I cannot imagine that there is a father in this room who could watch this video and be all right with a young man dancing with his daughter in that fashion," he told the gathering.

    Deep Rift
    Many parents support Mr. Ceyanes's actions. But another vocal faction has been harshly critical of the new superintendent, creating a deep rift in the community. These parents defend the children of Argyle as "good kids," and say they should be trusted to dance and dress the way they want.

    Angry, Internet-empowered parents have searched public records to dig up personal details of Mr. Ceyanes's past, blogging spitefully about his divorce and his earlier marriage and fatherhood at the age of 17. In community chat rooms, some people were calling him a hypocrite and a power-crazed autocrat showing too much interest in teenage girls.

    Supporters fought back on their own blogs, where one posted pictures of Argyle students in skin-baring clothing culled from MySpace and Facebook pages. "Check your kids profiles," the blogger wrote. "These are some of the pictures your little angels have posted on the World Wide Web." The post was later removed, and the anonymous blogger refused to discuss the matter or give his or her name in an email exchange, citing fears of retaliation. "We had several comments that were extremely threatening," the blogger wrote.

    Mr. Ceyanes, meanwhile, has tried to stay above the fray, concentrating his energies on meeting parents, school staff and student advisers to find common ground. He has acknowledged that the dress code he inherited, which calls for three-inch-wide shoulder straps and no exposed back, is too strict for formal dances. Proposed new rules still bar cleavage but would allow strapless dresses.

    The dancing dispute is proving tougher to resolve. "Our community needs to show these students how much we value them by not allowing them to devalue themselves," says Spencer Jefferies, father of a sophomore girl, who supports Mr. Ceyanes's efforts. Others disagree. "We never had a problem before," said one of the more outspoken parents, Barbara Roberts. She says she spent $400 for her 17-year-old daughter's dress only to have her leave the dance after a few minutes because it was such a dud.

    Students defend their style of dancing, blaming the disagreement on the same sort of generation gap that turned Elvis Presley's swiveling hips into a public controversy in 1956. Some Argyle teens say they realize grinding might look erotic, but they insist it's just dancing, not sex. "We don't think of it that way," says Ferrin Bavousett, 17. "When we dance, we don't mean, 'Hey, after the dance you want to go to La Quinta?'" referring to a nearby motor hotel.

    Taking Up the Challenge
    At one of the school meetings on the issue, Phillip Canizares, 17, said he told the superintendent that teens are dancing the only way they know how. "If it's all we know how to do, then what else are we supposed to do?"

    Mr. Ceyanes has taken up the challenge. He has appointed an assistant high-school principal to recruit dance instructors from local studios and universities to demonstrate what's appropriate and what's not for a school dance.

    It's going to be an uphill battle, according to dance experts. In the age of round-the-clock music videos on television, iPods and computers, teenagers are just copying what they see. Grinding has been around for a long time, but it has been getting raunchier as videos keep pushing the envelope. "If you're dancing to a song that says 'shake that, shake that, shake that,' it's kind of hard not to shake that," says Gino Johnson, a Dallas area choreographer and producer specializing in hip hop.

    Feeling the Heat
    The problem is so widespread at school dances that deejays are feeling the heat, too. School officials sometimes blame the deejay for playing too much of the hip-hop-style music that can lead to grinding. So deejays have developed strategies, such as switching to disco or rock 'n' roll, when they see the kids getting too worked up. Some change the pace with a dose of a line dance called cotton-eye joe or a limbo contest.

    But "there's only so much a deejay can do," says Richard Roberti, who owns Pyramid Sounds in Woonsocket, R.I. Mix up the music too much, and you risk driving the kids away.

    That's what happened in Argyle. Tension was already high because students arriving at the dance were being asked to don jackets and T-shirts to cover up shoulder-baring dresses. When the grinding started inside, the disc jockey switched the music to rock 'n' roll classics, and at one point even played the Six Flags Theme Song from the commercials. It was the musical equivalent of a bucket of cold water.

    Instead of canceling dances as some schools have done, Mr. Ceyanes wants to try again, and has scheduled another "Winter Dance" in December to see whether his dancing demos have helped the kids find a less freaky way to move.

    But Mr. Roberti, the deejay, has some advice for Argyle: "The more they make a big deal over it, the more the kids are gonna wanna do it."
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack. -- Gen. George S. Patton

  3. #3
    Atomic Punk bsbll4's Avatar
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    05.24.18 @ 01:11 PM
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    In two more generations they're going to have to hand out condoms and morning after pills at the annual homecoming gang-bang.
    CNN may think my opinion matters, but you shouldn't.

  4. #4
    Sinner's Swing!
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    07.01.10 @ 05:21 AM
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    And to think I thought I was pushing the envelope when I touched Karen Wilson's butt while we slow danced to Journey's "Open Arms". Times have changed.



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