How important is the right to grind?

By Alexandra Kukulka

For some students, homecoming can be the highlight of high school. Girls shop for dresses, guys get nervous about asking their dream date to the dance and parents buy new cameras to snap precious photos. Dirty dancing is another element of this magical night.

Grinding at school dances was a heated issue during my middle school years. Teachers who chaperoned the dance would come to me and say, “Kukulka, I will have a ruler at the dance and if you are closer than 10 inches to a boy, I will kick you out.” This statement was rather ironic because if you know me, you know that I maintained a prolonged belief that boys had cooties.

Grinding has become even more of an issue in high schools, and parents and administrators are taking action to get it off the dance floor. Minnetonka High School in Minnetonka, Minn., started a “Dance Like Grandma’s Watchin’” campaign to discourage grinding.

If my grandma were chaperoning a dance, she would probably fall asleep and forget about everything in the morning. It seems some schools need a stronger solution.

Altoona Area High School in Altoona, Penn., also had a grinding ban in place during prom. The administration said students would be kicked out if they didn’t dance while facing each other. The students started a petition in protest.

Here is a solution: If both partners are the same height, they can still dirty dance while facing each other. That’s basic anatomy. Just press into each other groin to groin.

I never understood why grinding is so exciting to adolescents. For high schoolers with raging hormones, I suppose it’s an emotional release. But to a teacher or chaperone, it looks like a massive sex scene.

Needless to say, I was never kicked out of a dance in middle school, but one student from Lake Zurich High School is currently defending his right to bump and grind.

According to a Chicago Tribune article, Mike Lowe, a junior at LZHS, is trying to move the venue of this year’s homecoming-dance because the administration banned grinding on school property.

But every venue Lowe calls won’t agree to host homecoming because the administration must sign off on any location for liability reasons.

The high school’s administration has recently been modifying many of its rules, including a stricter dress code and a higher standard for student conduct. There was even talk of students taking drug tests, which was quickly dropped once it faced severe opposition from students and parents.

I am all for students standing up for themselves. As a Columbia student, I know what it is like to have to accept sudden changes in school policy and procedure. Perhaps Lake Zurich is prioritizing its homecoming dance, but students need to choose their battles cautiously.

I hate to break it to everyone, but it’s just grinding. Students, you aren’t defending your right to sit at the front of the bus. Administrators, you aren’t banning testing products on animals. Both sides need to realize there are bigger fish to fry in this world.

The administration needs to note that if students want to dirty dance, they will. The generation gap between students and administrators also plays a role. Many middle and high school students have grown up with a musical culture that highlights grinding while there wasn’t much grinding 30 years ago.

Students understand this ban is restricting their rights, but what they haven’t grasped yet is that there is power in numbers. If they truly feel strongly about this issue, though it may seem silly to some, they need the support of the entire student body.

Lowe created a Facebook page to promote moving the school’s homecoming dance. Sure, he got a few hundred likes, but he will need more than that. Even if the entire student body were to unite over this issue, they need to tread lightly because the administration has the power to cancel the dance altogether. If students are successful in their protest, they should still take the grinding down a notch and let the controversy die so it doesn’t become a problem for future high school students.