Written by Keith Uhlig Wausau Daily Herald
Formal dress, check. Dinner reservations, check. Signed dance code of conduct that promises you will dance “appropriately,” check.
Now you’re ready for prom.
Wausau-area high school administrators say that an increase in sexually suggestive dancing has prompted them to have students sign papers that outline behavioral expectations before they attend dances. The signed codes of conduct must be turned in when Wausau East, West and D.C. Everest students buy tickets to their respective dances. Everest students must get their parents to sign the codes of conduct, too.
The dance codes of conduct have been in place for years at Wausau East High School, said Joe Svitak, associate principal. It was revamped six or seven years ago, he said, when grinding became a prevalent dance style among teens.
The changes to the code, and its importance, came after “kids’ way of dancing changed, it was getting more and more, I don’t know what the right word is … getting more physical, I guess you could say,” Svitak said. “They were doing things on the dance floor that would have got them arrested on the street.”
By making the code of conduct signature mandatory, expectations are set for dances before the music begins, he said.
“Grinding is definitely a dance of our generation,” said Jacque Moss, 18, an East senior. “It’s become a problem in a sense, that when administrators have to break kids apart, it’s a problem.”
Moss, who doesn’t consider grinding a “real dance,” said she thinks teenagers turn to it because they don’t know other dances.
Signing a code is a good idea, said Ken Stetzer, 17, a junior at East.
“I think it’s good, because then people know what is expected of them,” Stetzer said. “It doesn’t take time to sign it. I think it’s a good thing.”
Not all students agree.
Rebecca Rist, 18, a senior at East, moved to Wausau from Pennsylvania. She doesn’t think the code is very effective. Students will just sign it, and do what they do.
“When I first read it, I was laughing. I kind of thought it was a joke,” Rist said.
Mosinee High School, which held its prom Saturday, does not require its students to sign a code before attending dances, said Dennis Kaczor, associate principal.
Administrators there let students know that provocative dancing or inappropriate clothing won’t be tolerated “in other ways,” he said. Posters that outline dance rules are posted, and disc jockeys are told to avoid songs that are more likely to spur grinding, Kaczor said.
Before each dance, the chaperones get together to talk about strategies in keeping things cool during the event, Kaczor said.
“We have one teacher who will come with a meter stick, and use that to make sure there’s space between couples,” Kaczor said. “It’s kind of old school.”
In a way, teens using dancing to shock their elders is old school, too.
“Kids are always going to be kids. They’ll always want to see how much they can get away with,” Svitak said. “You and I did that when we were in school, and our grandparents did before us. It’s nothing new.”