“I want to welcome everyone to tonight’s dance. As you know we have a dance code of conduct that you are expected to follow. I could bore you by reading the entire dance policy, but I won’t do that. Have fun tonight and remember that all dancing must be consensual,” said the vice principal of the high school dance I was chaperoning.
“What does he mean by consensual dancing?” I asked the chaperone standing next to me.
“You have no idea what’s going on with high school kids today, do you?” she asked.
“Obviously not,” I said.
“In other words, you’re just another parent blind to the ways of today’s teens,” she said.
“Sounds like it,” I said. “But that still doesn’t explain what consensual dancing means.”
“The dance policy states that students must be facing each other while dancing. Do you know why?” she asked.
“That’s easy. It is so students can look into each other’s eyes and remember what a lovely time they had at the dance,” I said, remembering my own high school dances.
She rolled her eyes and said, “They have to dance face to face because we don’t want any dancing that’s inappropriate.”
“What is inappropriate dancing?” I asked.
The woman took a deep breath, let out a big sigh, and said, “Without a dance code, these kids would be out on the dance floor dirty dancing, freaking, goosing, hunching . . .”
“What is hunching?” I asked, interrupting her flow.
She gave me an evil look and without missing a beat said, “They would be grinding, bumping, humping, and a few more things I can’t say because I’m a lady.”
I scanned the dance floor and it was nearly empty. There were a group of girls dancing together and several couples shaking their tail feathers. There was no cause for alarm.
“I don’t see anything that resembles a problem,” I said.
“Of course not,” she said. “They know we mean business and so they play nice. But if we turn our backs, they’ll be out there doing who knows what.”
“I didn’t know being a chaperone was such an important job,” I said.
“Don’t be smug, pal,” she said. “This is an important job.
“What about consensual dancing?” I asked.
“What about it?” she asked.
“Does non-consensual dancing involve a guy grabbing a girl and forcing her to do the jitterbug with him?” I asked. “Does he throw her up in the air and she has to Lindy Hop when that isn’t her favorite dance?”
She rolled her eyes at me and asked, “Do you think this is a joke?”
“No, I just need some clarification on what consensual dancing means,” I said.
“So you would rather have kids out on the floor moshing, slamming, jerking, and cracking each other?” she asked.
“Are those the names of dances or the name of dance moves?” I asked. “Can you demonstrate what hunching is?”
“I most certainly cannot,” she said.
She thought I was trying to be a smart aleck and gave me a tongue lashing. What she didn’t do, however, was explain to me what consensual dancing means.
“When did school dances become a problem?” I asked.
She looked at me like I was an idiot and said, “It all started with kids watching music videos. They see the people in those and think that is proper dancing. But it isn’t, is it?”
“Not at all,” I agreed.
I never found out what is meant by consensual dancing. But I left with the feeling that we were making a difference as chaperones.
After all, without us, high school students at this dance and many others would be on dance floors moshing, slamming, jamming, goosing, dirty dancing, freaking, grinding, and, of course, hunching.