Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Scenes from a High School Dance, Part I

Kiss Kiss - Chris Brown (mp3)

Scene One: The Dance Floor
One hour into the school’s semiformal.

A third of the expansive ballroom is packed with the dancing cyst, a cancerous and growing cluster of teenage cells, crammed tightly into a roundish mass. The steady bass thump of a dozen different songs gently nudges the winterized windows. The collective occasionally shouts out a memorable chorus. The girls out-shout the boys.

Faculty supervisors prowl the perimeter like hyenas. Instead of seeking the wounded and vulnerable, they slink around to find those pre-adult lifeforms who might be having what can only be described as “too much fun.” Anyone making out? Any hands getting personal with another person’s private regions in a too-public manner? When a teacher sniffs out such a moment, they enter the fray and pounce, demanding that the couple in question lower their degree of enjoyment to get more in line with the rest of the group.

It feels like we are the bad guys. Maybe we are.

One teacher says she looks for the boys whose shirts are untucked. Rumor has it that boys untuck their shirts and unzip their fly, thus allowing their date to reach behind and offer a “tug job” during a dance. Really? I ask. “Oh you have no idea. Girls talk.” I hope she’s wrong. About the shirts, not the girls talking.

One teacher in his early 30s stands in one spot almost the entire night, near an open window a mere 10-15 feet from the dancing cancer. He just can’t get over the monotany of it. “Look out there. All of them are dancing exactly the same. All of them.”

I observe. He’s exaggerating, but not much. Boy after boy stands behind his date, pushed into her, his hands on her hips or on her waist, their combined form attempting to rock left and right in some close proximity to the rhythm and to the movements of their partner. Entire songs, entire stretches of songs, go by, and these couples remain in the exact. same. positions. They don’t seem to talk much. They don’t even have to deal with eye contact or facial expression, because they’re not even looking at one another. Probably 8 out of every 10 couples dance like this.

One particularly sad case catches our eye. A boy already 4-5” shorter than his date is further insulted by her wearing 3” heels. In a desperate attempt to match the grinding power of his more evenly-heighted peers, he is up-thrusting his hips with every beat. He looks like a Chihuahua attempting to mate with a German Shepherd. And, appropos of the metaphor, the poor German Shepherd mostly ignores him and rolls her eyes, wondering when some bigger dog might rip out this annoying mutt’s throat.

At one point, the teacher and I notice that six different couples are lined up, unintentionally, doing exactly the same thing in the same rhythm. “They look like a family of penguins,” I say.

Scene Two

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