By Kenny Soto
Most 20-somethings can sum up their middle school and high school dance memories in one word: awkward. Those weekend evenings were a breeding ground for a host of painfully funny moments, what with the lame decorations attempting to make the school gym look like a tropical paradise/New York City/winter wonderland, late '90s dance crazes, and parents and teacher as chaperones.
Today’s world of school dances, however, is far different from the days of the Chicken Dance and boy bands. In a very "life imitates art" sort of moment, some Boston-area schools last month announced the cancellation of dances due to "grinding," "freaking," "Jersey Turnpike-ing," etc. All across the country, schools are replacing dances with events like “homecoming movies,” starting a battle between students and administrators.
In memoriam of school dances everywhere, and in the spirit of this generation's obsession with nostalgia, here are some of your best school dance memories.
“In eighth grade, we had a required dance for our entire class. Back then, I was what you would call a ‘freak goth emo kid’ who listened heavily to Good Charlotte and exclusively wore black band t-shirts. It was a dark time of my past (let's not even talk about how much I was obsessed with Joel Madden). At the dance, my friends and I forced the DJ to play MEST's "Rooftops," and we started a mosh pit, much to the dislike of the rest of our class.”
-- Christine V., 22
“My first slow jam, my hands slipped and were precariously positioned for the whole seven-minute song. She slapped me afterwards.”
-- Siya A., 26
“It was the year 2000. Saran had just released a line of colored plastic wrap, five in all: yellow, pink, green, blue, and purple (I think). My girlfriends and I thought it was the perfect thing to make clothes out of for the upcoming dance. We'd all wear a different color, with matching little black skirts and our matching Steve Madden slide-on sandals. It was soooo cute; we even took pictures in order of the colors of the rainbow.
“Of course, as soon as we got to the dance (in the gym) wearing nothing but plastic, it was no more than about 15 minutes until we were pulled out under threat of suspension, marched into the girls' locker room, and FORCED TO CHANGE INTO OUR GYM CLOTHES!
“So, we did still spend the rest of the night wearing matching outfits: sweats and t-shirts. It was humiliating.”
-- Alex P., 24
“My friend in middle school used to go around asking girls, ‘Wanna dance?’ and expecting them to say no so he could respond, ‘Me neither!’ One time, the girl said, ‘Sure!’ and he automatically said, ‘Me neither!’ and ran away. Also, I went to Catholic school until eighth grade, and mom chaperones would tell us to "make room for Jesus/the Holy Spirit!" for slow dances.
-- Meghan R., 22
“Middle and high school dances were so fun and innocent. I remember getting ready by putting on lipstick and dancing to TLC's “No Scrubs” in our Steve Madden slides. The opportunity to dance with my long-distance boyfriend from another school was the highlight of my month. That’s all it was; I don’t think we even kissed. Maybe those memories say more about middle school me than it does about these dances, but I remember this stuff so vividly.”
-- Alex L., 25
"I was huge in middle school and high school. For me, dances just meant going to the school gym and playing basketball with the other fat kids."
-- Zach C., 25
“I may or may not have written a note, posing as my friend Kristine, to our guy friend, asking him to eighth grade semi-formal. He turned her down. And he didn’t know I wrote it.”
-- Celia N., 21
"After my prom, my high school had like a carnival-type afterparty to keep kids from just going home and drinking. At the time, Jackass and Viva La Bam were the two most popular shows in the world. I went to the afterparty dressed as the guy from Turbonegro, a punk band that used to be on the show all the time. Needless to say, I didn't get any prom night action. It was really just an excuse to wear eyeliner.”
-- John C., 25
“I have a memory rather than a story: I will never forget when I walked into my very first middle school dance as a sixth grader and heard Britney Spears' “...Baby One More Time" for the first time. Right then and there, I knew I was playing a whole new ball game, and I didn't yet know the rules.”
-- Beth O., 24
“We had a few dances in middle school, but everyone looked forward to a specific dance, viewed as the prom for pre-teens. At this event, the girls would dress up in their faux stilettos and the boys in their best Sunday attire. We were still very young and not at all used to wearing formal clothing, so it was no surprise when the boys quickly chucked their pressed jackets and the girls formed a pile of high heels in the middle of the dance floor. The girls stood on one side and the boys, at attention, on the other, as per usual. One boy deviated from the bunch and decided to venture to the girls' section. While we considered him brave, his intentions were not what anyone expected. Being juiced up with pubescent hormones, that boy became 'excited' at the sight of female feet. Yes, I said it: The dude had a foot fetish, and the sight of feet made him react like Gollum finding his 'precious' in Lord of the Rings. Little did he know, the girls would take note of his staring, resulting in his being thrust into social Mordor for the rest of his school days. Looking back, I don't think he deserved the label of being ‘that kid with the foot fetish’ because, as they say, he was born that way. The last I checked, he's pursuing his undergrad in pre-med in hopes of ultimately becoming a podiatrist.
-- Joe, 21
Photo by coolcatteacher (Flickr)
About Kenny -- I'm a professional blogger and entertainer. In my spare time, I enjoy Boston sports and exploring all of the adventures that my hometown has to offer. You can connect with me on Twitter @TheRealKennySo.
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