Dancing with the mob
When a record number of Brainerd High School students descended upon the homecoming dance floor last Saturday to bust a move, little did they know their dance moves would become community fodder.
Since Saturday’s dance, several complaints about teens “bumping and grinding” on the dance floor have been anonymously submitted to the Dispatch’s Vox Pop column, as well as comments left on the Dispatch website.
If you think high school dances have changed since you attended your last one a few decades ago, you’d be right.
BHS students undergo a breathalyzer as they enter the dance to make sure they hadn’t been drinking. A Brainerd police officer is joined by school administrators who are stationed at each dance and at least 14 adult volunteer chaperones encircle the dance floor to watch for any lewd or inappropriate behavior. Students aren’t allowed to sneak away to darkened corners of the school and any sexual behavior is quickly squelched. Students also have to adhere to a dress code and disc jockeys hired by the district must play music with edited lyrics.
Still, with a record 450 students attending Saturday’s dance in the A Commons at BHS, it can be difficult to even move on the dance floor and chaperones may not be able to see everything. The inner circle is a large, sweaty mix of gyrating students that has been described as claustrophobic to be part of.
“Our chaperones are there circling around the kids to sit and watch and they graciously listen to pounding music,” said Rusk. “They don’t get too close because, to be honest, it gets really hot and smelly. We try to use our best discretion on what is bumping and grinding and what’s beyond that — they’re not allowed to make out. We certainly know that dancing in close proximity is how people congregate at dances.”
Rusk said despite the comments in Vox Pop, she’s only received one complaint from a person who left a voicemail message saying that if former principal Jim Hunt (now the school board chair) was there, he would never let this lewd behavior occur. The caller also said she heard that the high school principal was there and “he” didn’t do anything about it.
Rusk said she would have preferred to have spoken to the caller, not only to let her know that the principal is female but also to share that the school is open to solutions and is always looking for more adult chaperones. The reason the school only allows edited music is because a concerned mother complained a few years back.
Rusk said the feedback she’s received from students is that the dance floor was hot and overcrowded so the school is looking at other venues for future dances. BHS dances are becoming increasingly popular, which is a good thing, she said. She said the ninth-grade dances are not as well attended and the whole dance mob mentality is not seen there.
“They’re great kids and we’re glad they’re at a dance,” Rusk said. “We want them to be at our dances. If people have ideas or want to chaperone, we’d welcome that.”
JODIE TWEED may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5858.