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VA County Bans Freak Dancing

All high school students have been asked to sign an agreement promising to keep their dancing clean or stay off the floor. But the pledge has sparked a student-led protest about freedom and self-expression. More than 300 students signed a petition complaining that the rule is "arbitrary, irregular and in violation of ... First Amendment freedoms of expression in all forms," said senior Anton Soukup, 17. Another student printed a T-shirt with the message, "How are we supposed to do the hokeypokey if we can't turn ourselves around?"
Va. high school tries to rein in 'freak dancing'
Students protest required pledges to keep dancing clean

By Rosalind S. Helderman
Updated: 5:37 a.m. ET Oct. 22, 2004

WASHINGTON - It turns out the students at Loudoun Valley High School in Purcellville will, in fact, be allowed to tango at tomorrow's Homecoming Dance.

They can salsa and swing dance too, Principal Gerald Black has promised, although they have all signed a pledge that they will "face each other" on the dance floor. Also on the pledge's list: no drugs, alcohol or "freak dancing."

Loudoun Valley and Loudoun County's other seven high schools are just the latest to grapple with the bumping and grinding club moves that have seeped into school dances across the Washington region and the nation over the past couple of years.

But in Loudoun, the response has generated as much attention as the dancing. All high school students have been asked to sign an agreement promising to keep their dancing clean or stay off the floor.

Loudoun Valley's "face each other" order had seemed reasonable, Black said, a simple attempt to stop popular back-to-front dancing in which a girl gyrates her hips against the pelvis of a guy standing behind her.

"It's very suggestive, and it would certainly not be appropriate in a school setting," he said.

But the pledge has sparked a student-led protest about freedom and self-expression. More than 300 students signed a petition complaining that the rule is "arbitrary, irregular and in violation of ... First Amendment freedoms of expression in all forms," said senior Anton Soukup, 17.

Another student printed a T-shirt with the message, "How are we supposed to do the hokeypokey if we can't turn ourselves around?"

'This is our generation's version of the twist'
High schools in Montgomery County, Arlington and elsewhere have confronted the quandary of how to rein in what is known as "freak dancing." But most have dealt with the phenomenon on an individual basis. Some schools ban the dancing and watch attendance at the events drop. Others admonish students to keep it clean. So far, with the exception of Loudoun's, there appear to be no systemwide policies.

When Loudoun Valley teachers handed out the required contract last week, it was greeted by almost immediate protest, several students said. They said they'd grown up "grinding" and felt the dancing was simply misunderstood by adults.

"This is our generation's version of the twist," said Jessica Nauta, 17. "A lot of older people think it's a sexual act. It's really not."

She acknowledged that some dancing can go over the line but said that's why dances are chaperoned. Requiring students to sign a promise to dance face to face simply encourages students to test the limits, she said.

"We all understand we live by different rules at school, but freedom of expression shouldn't be something they should make us throw away," she said.

A 'stay classy' contract
At Yorktown High in Arlington, Principal Raymond Pasi allowed a homecoming dance earlier this month only after the student government had put out a "stay classy" contract that students were asked to sign.

Turnout was lower than usual, and some youngsters got sent home early for dancing inappropriately, but Pasi said the atmosphere was much improved over last year's dance when some chaperones were so offended that they refused to take part again.

On the subject of dancing, passions have run particularly high in Western Loudoun, a growing semi-rural area that boasts both the national headquarters of the Home School Legal Defense Association and the county's only elected Democratic supervisor.

"I've been giving a lot of thought to this, and I do believe its a different clientele out here," said Priscilla B. Godfrey (Blue Ridge), who represents the Loudoun Valley area on the School Board. Only in the west have there been complaints about the issue, and they have come from both sides, she said.

The district has both people who are "very on to First Amendment rights" and "a very strong Christian community," she said.

Some parents complain
County officials decided to require pledges after several parents and students complained at a School Board meeting in the spring that Loudoun Valley High's dances had become so explicit that they felt they could no longer attend.

"I had girls come and talk to me afterwards, and they felt really degraded about what they had done at the prom," said Christian Amonson, 17, one of those who spoke at the meeting.

But parent Laura George immediately saw a First Amendment threat in the pledge Loudoun Valley put out, and she encouraged her daughter and her classmates to protest.

"Civil rights are falling by the wayside every second," she said. "I've got to take a stand here for my kids. I've got to teach them that you question authority when authority's gone mad."

Nonsense, said Barbara Curtis, a parent of a Loudoun Valley student who complained about dancing in a column in a local newspaper last spring. She is writing a book about "dirty dancing at the prom" and said she's done dozens of interviews with students nationwide, including girls whose dates had ditched them when they refused to take part.

"It's not a very noble cause to be fighting for," she said. "The kids with the petition, they know what's been going on."

Black held a meeting Wednesday with students concerned that the contract had gone too far. Then the principal went on the school's public address system to assure students he will apply the "face each other" rule with common sense.

"We're not going to be the Gestapo, the military police to throw them out," he said. "It's certainly not the intention of anyone to stifle them having fun."

That mostly quieted fears and protest, said Erin Conroy, 17, one of those who had been upset. She said students are waiting to see what tomorrow's dance is like. "We don't want to have to fight about it," she said.

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"girls whose dates had ditched them when they refused to take part" 24.Oct.2004 02:13

.

This sounds like a * Good Thing * thing to me.

Does the woman want her daughter to get pregnant before she finds out the guy is an asshole?

Sounds Like Fun 24.Oct.2004 11:28

human

You don't get pregnant from dancing. Dance has always been erotic and ecstatic. Young adults have no power in this society; the only power they have is over their own bodies. Sounds like harmless fun to me. Humans have bodies and denying this fact does more harm than good.

"You don't get pregnant from dancing." 25.Oct.2004 23:48

.

Who said you do?

You get pregnant from hanging onto assholes who don't understand "no".

Question of morality 01.Dec.2004 12:18

Anton Soukup

Ladies and Gentlemen, I urge you to further read into the topic you speak about. The petition was not created in thought of advocating this so-called 'freak dancing,' we merely felt that we where not represented at the meeting in which the permission form was created. I have personally spoken to those students who have been blamed for the permission form and even they are against it. The media attempted, and apparently succeeded in convincing you that this was about freak dancing. It never was, and shall never be. The pledge was very arbitrary, for it bans things that are not defined. How can I prevent myself from 'freak dancing' when I am not even sure what it is? Please do not turn this into an argument about freak dancing when truly this is an argument about a tyranny of the minority.

dirty dancing 21.Dec.2004 11:22

julie beggs sthessjewelz@yahoo.com

when I told my mother what was going on at the school in which I had just graduated from, her first question was "what's freak dancing?" and honestly I could not and can not tell her. Not that I am ashamed but because I do not know what it is. I showed her how I danced at my homecomings and proms and then she showed me how she dances with her friends; oddly enough they were extremely similar. I then put in the DVD of Dirty Dancing and flipped to the scene when Baby helps bring in the watermelons to the staff "lounge" and said "well it's kind of like that but not as much slithering up and down." She then told me the most popular songs to dance to at her high school dances were "Super Freak," "Relax" or other songs in which they could scream different words to, to be suggestive or outright sexual. Nothing has changed since you were in high school and if you think it has then you obviously didn't go to any of your proms. Dancing does not lead to rape or sex. Mothers and fathers who don't teach their sons that no means no is what leads to rape. And puberty is what leads to sex.

Its not that bad, we're old enough to make our own decisions... 13.Jan.2005 14:30

anonymous

I think there's really nothing wrong with dirty dancing, you can't get pregnant and you cant get HIV or AIDs from it. All your doing is dancing and grown ups don't understand that when they pull their children away from something that they really want to do that all their doing is pushing them even closer to it. Plus, some peoples parents know that they dance the way they do, you don't see every point of view before you juge it, I even know some parents that dance like that, but its their decision to how they want to dance,maybe thats the only way someone knows how to dance, have you ever though about that???I bet you haven't growing up you do what you see the older people do, do you not??? So you can't blame the kids for the way they dance its just a way to express yourself and to have fun.Also,to do what they saw their elder do... Think About That For A While, Let It Sink In...

Songs Of The Dances 17.Jul.2005 20:03

Nicole

Ok. Well I have a suggestion to this freak dancing situation. Not all kids (none at all really) will be happy about this, but here is a good suggestion. Don't play the music! The music like 50 Cent and or Eminem or whenever has any sexual content like 50 Cent's "Just A Lil Bit" or "Candy Shop" are going to totally encourage the kids to freak dance. With the beat and the lyrics, girls are going to of corse want to freak dance!

Freak Dancing 15.Nov.2005 13:35

Maria Montez skigirl132@hotmail.com

This totally violates first ammendments rights. It's appaling that people want to stop freak dancing in schools. What schools don't realize is that even if they 'require' face-to-face dancing, you can still 'gyrate' against people's pelvises EVEN when you are facing each other,