Department: Philly Teens Are Dancing Dirty … at School

Forget the gyrating pelvis and the Hustle and crowd-surfing and leaving room for the Holy Ghost. Suburban Philly kids today are getting way more physical at school dances — and administrators can’t stop them


I tried to chaperone a school dance, thinking I’d get to see what all the fuss is about. But chaperones really don’t get to see all that much. Students are too good at hiding stuff. But they’re not hiding their own misdeeds; they’re hiding the transgressions of others. They create “beehives” by raising their arms and encircling an erotic couple, forming a human wall between the chaperones and their friends who are having too much fun. The most tried-and-true device for repelling chaperones is “the mosh pit,” otherwise known as “the amoeba,” “the cluster” or “the cluster rub”: Students pack into a mass of bodies in the center of the dance floor, and chaperones would have to wade in there with the Jaws of Life to find out what’s doing.

And what is doing? Booty drops. Leg-straddling. Dresses hiked up to the hipbones. Guys grinding on girls who are bent over, with their hands on their knees or ankles, or the floor. Get-crazy stuff. Stuff that makes a parent think about moving the family to Morocco.

AT CHELTENHAM HIGH SCHOOL last fall, two school dances (including homecoming) were “postponed” — to use the administration’s euphemism — because students and administrators couldn’t agree on a dirty-dancing policy. A committee of student officers, teachers and administrators is trying to work out a compromise. “The tough part is being able to define what’s allowed and what’s not allowed,” says Ian Haines, a special education teacher and committee member. “It’s easy to come up with negative rules.” In response to the universal student outcry “What can we do?,” he once tried to get the Sixers Dancers to come to the school and demonstrate some appropriate moves. Like they’re not steamy.

Truth be told, popular dancing has been getting ever sexier for two decades now. (Remember the Lambada? That was what, 1990?) And this entire time, high-school principals across America have been canceling dances because of grinding. A decade ago, at Lower Merion High School, a chaperone reportedly watched two boys give a girl a lap dance as she lay on the floor. The fallout? The school principal cracked down and banned “inappropriate” behavior. Students stopped organizing dances.