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October 17, 2008

Freak dancing rules

In my story today about freak dancing, I explore the latest dancing guidelines established at Centennial High School, which were crafted in response to a back-to-school dance that got out of control.

My colleagues Nicole Fuller, Arin Gencer, David Kohn and Sara Neufeld were able to give me the policies that each of the school systems they cover follows:

In Baltimore City, school system spokeswoman Edie House wrote in an e-mail to us that since school dances are school-sponsored events, "student attendees are expected to act appropriately as outlined in the Baltimore City Public Schools 2008-09 Code of Conduct. Although there is no specific language pertaining to inappropriate dancing ('freak dancing') in our City Schools Code of Conduct, school administrators may utilize several consequences contained within the code for students who are conducting themselves inappropriately."

In Baltimore County, dancing is regulated by school administrators. “It’s a school by school decision,” said spokesman Charles Herdon. “We give discretion to administrators to determine what is appropriate.”

In Harford County, inappropriate dancing is considered disruptive behavior. "We do not have a specific policy that addresses dancing specifically,” said spokeswoman Teri D. Kranefeld. “However, if the dancing becomes disruptive, the administrator will approach the students and ask them to cease. Disruptive behavior, whether it be dancing or any other act, is addressed by the school-based administration. "

In Anne Arundel County, school officials have in recent years encountered instances of inappropriate dancing or "freak dancing" at high school dances, but they have not instituted any new policies or rules system-wide to deal with the issue, according to spokesman Bob Mosier, who said the problem is not widespread. He cited one instance at Severna Park High School in January, when a school dance was shut down early due to inappropriate behavior, as the worst of the problem. He said the student handbook makes clear such behavior would constitute "inappropriate bodily conduct," and said school administrators have dealt with the issue on a case-by-case basis and have, when deemed appropriate, taken disciplinary measures. "Any dance is a school sponsored activity, and as such, student behavior has to fall within the paraments of the code of student conduct, which spells out, what is permitted and what is not permitted," Mosier said. "Chaperones and staff members are at dances and certainly have authority to ask students to refrain from behaviors that don't fall within that code."

According to the Howard County policy for dancing, all students must: wear clothing that meets the county dress code; keep both feet on the floor at all times; maintain an upright, vertical position; and avoid any dancing that suggests a sexual act.

Have you attended a high school dance recently? I have. It's an eye-opening experience.

Posted by John-John Williams IV at 10:25 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Around the Region, Howard County, Trends


"if the dancing becomes disruptive, the administrator will approach the students and ask them to cease. Disruptive behavior, whether it be dancing or any other act, is addressed by the school-based administration"

Elsewhere in the United States of America...
Extremely suggestive videos are displayed during some high school dances, while the administration and chaperones stand nearby. 95% of students in attendance, freak/orgy dancing.

Personally, I'd like to see dancing that involves keeping both feet on the floor at all times, per the HoCo policy.

This comment is going to be one step away from "you kids get off my lawn!", but I think part of the issue is that many, MANY schools don't do more than one dance per year, so there isn't any behavior code established earlier. When I was in high school we had a dance of some kind roughly every other month: Sadie Hawkins, Square Dance, Christmas, Valentine's, and either a Spring event or Prom, depending on the grade level. Many schools have turned all of that into the be-all, end-all of a single prom. Some schools don't even do a Junior Prom, which means that high schoolers may only see ONE big dance in their school career.

I don't know if these changes are a matter of liability insurance, building use costs (you have to pay a custodial crew to open & close the building for the event), lack of adult participation to chaperone or something else altogether, but it's a sad trend.

While dances seem, on the surface, to be very extracurricular in nature, there is the educational component of developing a young person's social skills within a specific context. And with some of these dances (e.g. Square Dance), the dancing behavior is already rigidly defined, which can help to cut down on activities that administrators would rather not see.

I am a student at Centennial High School. The Baltimore Sun has gone for the more sensational aspect of the story and ignored the real issue. At the first dance of the year security guards and police officers threw people out of the dance for the way they danced. Our principal apologized for this happening, but many people were angered by this incident. A few days later, without consulting the SGA, our principal set these dance rules. People felt that they had no voice, and the nxt dance would be as bad as the first one. As it turns out, everything went off just fine. Ta da.

A few years ago I worked at a Baltimore County high school, which was quite near the city line, and for all intents and purposes was a city school.
My husband and I chaperoned the prom, and I was shocked. The girls wore extremely provocative outfits exposing as much skin as they could, and the couples spent the night freak dancing. It was basically sex with their clothes on.
The administration did nothing about it. It was obvious that the students met the expectations of the administration, (which was lower than the curb).
I was very disappointed in the administration and the students. It was an eye opener.

Just out of curiousity, how is a county school "for all intents and purposes" a city school? Test scores are bad and high drop-out rate? Most of the kids live in the city and sneak into this school? Or are we talking about the socio-economic/racial student profile here? Just curious, since one would think that if the county gets better graduation results because they have better management ( a theory I've heard put forward), any county school is a county school, regardless of where it is located.

Sorry, this post really has nothing to do with freak dancing, but the last post just begged the question.

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