Dancing is a form of creativity. Ballerinas and lyrical dancers alike show their grace and poise with every pirouette, arabesque, and releve. Jazz dancers strut their stuff with high battements and split leaps. Tap dancers shuffle to even no music to get the rhythm of their feet. Hip-hop dancers pop and lock to make themselves look cool.
But no genre of dancing is as easy and as bondable as social dancing. But the most creative subtype is freestyle dancing – in which dancers can dance any way they want. When it comes to grinding, or freak dancing, most teens know that it’s their only method of dancing. So why do they feel incapable of dancing in another way? Why do they embrace grinding? On top of that, why do they think that it’s their only way they know how to dance in the first place?
Well, I grew up watching wholesome, quality TV – no extras in skimpy clothing on the music videos rubbing bums to pelvises. I only watched the news, the children’s channels before they included low-brow programming, and the cooking channel. At dances (as well as home), I taught myself how to dance at parties via observance. I learned how to do the Twist, the Macarena, the Electric Slide, and other kid-friendly dances. Briefly, my parents even taught me some ballroom dancing lessons.
But teenagers nowadays either didn’t learn clean dancing as a child or just forgot how to dance in a party in an appropriate manner when out of elementary school. Of course, they learn how to do so from their peers, but they also learn the methods of freak dancing from low-brow (in a moral sense) music videos. Speaking of which, they are collectively the gist of oversexualization in teen culture. They are neither mature enough for sexually active lives, nor old enough to get married before engaging in sexual activity, but the media teaches them to dance provocatively.
But resistance to dancing that is both fashionable as well as lewd is really not new. Between the late 1700’s and the early 1800’s, the waltz was as bad as “the nasty.” Moralists, including Catholic officials and even some noted poets like Lord George Gordon Byron (who even wrote a poem about the bad dance) criticized its closed positions and excessive spinning. (Several years later, the problem with the former component of the ballroom dance reared its ugly head when the Chinese government mandated that schools teach their children to dance it to combat childhood obesity.) When the tango came to Europe from Argentina in the early 1900’s, Pope Benedict XV even banned it because it was overly sexual. In the 1960’s, some parents objected to the Twist because it was too provocative.
Parents of teenagers need to teach them proper dancing. No, I’m not going to convince them to pay sums of money to enroll them in ballroom dance classes. Teach them the moves you used to dance in school or in a party where you did such clean dancing. Show them videos (home or online) of group dancing that is not too sexual. I encourage teachers to do the same.
Everyone knows that dancing is a form of self expression, but people don’t have to gyrate pelvis-to-bum to call it “dancing.” There are far more family-friendly ways of dancing while looking cool in parties and events.