Students plan dance in response to ban

'Someone is taking too high of a moral high-ground'

Jan. 26, 2010

Menomonee Falls — A group of senior students decided to go in a different direction when the rules for high school dances started to seem extreme.

School district administrators revised a provision that would have banned strapless, halter, spaghetti-strap and other styles of dresses - the final straw for one Menomonee Falls High School senior girl - but students will not be allowed to dance in a way that imitates a sexual act, or grinding.

"At this time, it's hard to imagine that any grinding that suggests an imitation of a sexual act will be allowed," Principal Bill Hintz said. "We want the rules and expectations to be absolutely clear for students and chaperons."

So next month, students will have the opportunity to go to the school-sponsored Turnabout Dance and a student-sponsored Alternadance. Some students may go to both.

Dress code went too far

Senior Taryn Grisham said she and two other students are planning the Alternadance with support, although not monetary, from parents. Her mom likely will be one of several chaperons and her dad is helping her keep the finances in check.

The students rented the Richfield Chalet for five hours and hired a DJ to provide entertainment. The $10 ticket price includes unlimited soda and water. The students are inviting 10th- through 12th-graders to the dance.

The Chalet is providing two of its regular bouncers as additional security.

"It has been a lot, a lot of work," Taryn said of planning the event.

To break even, she said 108 students need to attend. As of Sunday, 75 students had signed up, but she is anticipating 150 students.

She plans to donate any excess funds to the Key Club-sponsored Relay For Life event, which benefits the American Cancer Society. Taryn is the president of the club in addition to a member of several other school groups, including several national honor societies, Link Club and Junior Miss committee.

She said it was the dress code that pushed her over the edge as she doesn't grind. She said her friends do, and she is OK with a so-called milder version. She prefers slow dancing with a boy or dancing in a circle with her girlfriends.

"Some kids take it a step further and that shouldn't be allowed," she said.

But the first draft of the code would have banned every dress she had worn to previous dances. She used her prom dress as an example - a halter that exposed some of her back, she said.

Administrators have since changed that provision and are requiring dresses to be at least fingertip in length.

While the dress code was the last straw, Taryn said the misconceptions about what happens at high school dances - like drinks being spiked and sex - was frustrating.

"It is so ridiculous," she said. "I know that doesn't go down at Menomonee Falls High School."

Brian Grisham, Taryn's dad, said she and her friends are good kids.

"We are very supportive of her and her friends," he said. "They want to have fun."

And while he said he is protective of his children, "someone is taking too high of a moral high-ground" with the grinding ban. He said he hopes "administrators realize their error."

Addressing new trend

Hintz said, over the last few years, school staff have noticed a change in the style of dance.

"It has become more sexually suggestive this year than ever before," he said. "Staff members have expressed concern and wanted to address the trends."

After the homecoming dance in fall, school officials, students and parents came together to set a code of conduct. One draft called for a ban on excessive grinding, but some adults and students said any grinding is sexual. A change was made to eliminate the word "grinding" and ban any dancing that imitates a sexual act.

Kyle Kiepert, a junior, might go to both dances.

"I'm not going to boycott it (Turnabout)," he said, which is a fear of administrators.

Kiepert, who admits to doing a milder form of grinding, said the issue should be respect - administrators respecting students to decide how they want to dance and students respecting administrators' views on dirty dancing.

Students must turn in a parent permission slip for both dances. Poor behavior will not be tolerated at either dance.

Dance details

WHAT: Turnabout Dance

WHEN: 7 to 11 p.m. Feb. 13

WHERE: Menomonee Falls High School, N8101 Merrimac Drive

COST: $40 a couple

WHAT: Alternadance

WHEN: 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. Feb. 26

WHERE: Richfield Chalet, 1271 State Road 175, Hubertus

COST: $10 per person


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