Thursday, November 8, 2007

45 degrees: The Homecoming Dance

A mass of humans, some wearing animal prints, moving strangely under the revolving flashes of light. The concentration of bodies seems to increase closer to the far end of the room, where a man with headphones on flicks and pushes hundreds of buttons and switches. Other attendees sitting in tables at the back of the room, some playing cards. One lone reporter, watching it all happen.

No, this scene is not from a bad science fiction movie. It's Paly. It's the homecoming dance.

Contrary to popular rumors, parent chaperones did not carry protractors with them as they prowled the dance floor, searching for violators of the "45 degree rule." In fact, most of them expressed indifference when asked about the new dance policy. "We were invited to watch the video," said one adult, referring to the two minute clip playing on a continuous loop just outside the gym. The short movie explained acceptable versus inappropriate dance behavior, but only enforced what the text of the policy states (you may not bend forwards at an angle of more than 45 degrees, you may not dance in a way that is unreasonably explicit). One chaperone said disparagingly, "There are so many more important things to pay attention to," suggesting that the administration could be wasting its time implementing and enforcing rules about the way students can dance.

Far more interesting were the reactions of students when informed that their parent would be a chaperone. "My daughter was almost in tears," replied an adult near the coatroom. Although it is undoubtedly embarrassing to see your mother at a dance, one might wonder precisely what the student had planned on doing so that she was so upset.

No extreme violations of school policy presented themselves, however. "There was one girl whose mother would not have been happy," reported a chaperone, recounting an incident of a "sandwich." The penalty is also not so severe as had been rumored. "I shone my flashlight twice on [this girl], but it wasn't really bad." Reports of alcohol use were also few. "One girl looked like she might have been under the influence, so another chaperone made sure she was okay."

This account contradicts the presence of two or three policemen at the dance. When asked why they were there, they replied, "some kids have been drinking." The cops walked around in the bleachers, surveying the scene below. Later, as the dance ended, they moved outside. "This is our first time here," said one. Perhaps some additional precautions have been put in place after all.

The Winter Formal will undoubtedly have a different atmosphere, and the circumstances regarding strictness remain to be seen. Stay tuned for the next article!