There was a lively discussion that was in full swing by the time I got my coffee and sat down with some friends. The topic was the Social Host Ordinance for Laguna Beach that is designed to combat the use of alcohol and drugs by anyone under 21. This would strongly prohibit adults from providing illegal substances to minors and would impose substantial fines on any violators. I left the discussion still curious as to why there have been such heated arguments pro and con.
As I settled down to write today, a random question popped into my mind. Here it is. Does anybody slow dance anymore? The thought brought with it the sweet remembrance attached to the act of slow dancing.
What does slow dancing have to do with this ordinance? To figure it out will require some patience. I invite you to take the ride with me.
As teenagers, dancing was our main social activity. There were three to five fast songs before you would hear the disk jockey say, “Let’s slow it down now.” Then came the scramble to either position yourself near enough to the guy who you hoped would ask you to dance or to move quickly away from the guy you wanted to avoid. Sounds like nostalgia for those good old innocent times, doesn’t it? Well, yes. It is also a way to wrap my mind around what our teenagers are required to cope with today.
Here is a quick refresher. Slow dancing is defined as a particular, simple style of dance performed by middle school and high school students. When two partners dance together, the lead partner holds their hands against the sides of the following partner’s waist while the follower drapes their hands on the leader’s shoulders. The couple then sways back and forth with the music. Foot movement is minimal, but the pair may use their feet to slowly turn on the spot. Because the dance requires little physical concentration, participants often talk to each other while dancing. Some couples that have a close relationship may dance very closely together, in a “hug-and-sway” fashion. Slow dancing is often considered to be just hugging and swaying, rather than an actual dance.
Fast-forward to the sort of rules established to maintain standards of what is appropriate behavior for a school dance today. Some examples: “When dancing back to front, all dancers must remain upright – no sexual bending is allowed,” the policy reads. “No hands on knees, and no hands on the dance floor with your buttocks touching your dance partner. There will be no touching of the breasts, buttocks or genitals. There will be no straddling of each other’s legs. Grinding, humping, booty dancing, mashing, and/or whatever a chaperone deems improper and/or indecent will not be permitted,” reads the dance policy. Similar but less explicit rules exist at many high schools.
The world our kids confront is beyond my experiential frame of reference. Therefore, it is crucial that I stay open and receptive to learning from the passionate response from our high-school students to this issue of how to address over-use of drugs and alcohol in our community.
Our young adults grapple with social and intellectual complexities that require high levels of self-determination and interdependence to navigate the ills and opportunities of our present society. My adolescence was a cakewalk compared to the daunting issues these kids face.
The over-indulgence issue can’t be legislated away with hard and fast rules. I hope that the teenagers maintain a strong voice. Their input is crucial and should be both respected and carefully considered since they are on the front lines of these social pressures. We need to cultivate interdependence or we could end up creating unwanted and unintended outcomes that won’t adequately address the problem.