This American Life on NPR has a great piece on Middle School Dances. Sounds a lot like the little I saw on Friday.
ACT TWO. STUTTER STEP.
We sent several correspondents straight to the epicenters of middle school awkwardness: School dances. Producers Lisa Pollak and Brian Reed, plus reporters Eric Mennel, Rob Wildeboer and Claire Holman spoke with kids across the country during the nervous moments leading up to the dances. And Lisa even ventured inside, to the dance itself. (9 1/2 minutes)
Thank god we didn’t have these when I was in Middle School. My class was the first one through the transition from Junior High to Middle School in my district back in the mid-1980s and, if I remember correctly, while there were very few changes overall between Junior High and Middle School in those early days, one change that we all protested (while many of us were quietly relieved) was the dropping of evening dances.
At the big one’s school, the dance was limited to seventh and eighth graders. This sounds wise to me. The younger, less mature ones seemed a little bewildered as it was. I know my son’s most exciting memory was hiding in a dark corner and jumping out to scare people. Though he did dance some, and even had his first slow dance, these did not seem to be the defining moments of the evening for him.
Most of the girls were dressed up in nice dresses, make up, hair done up, looking like they had been planning for this night the whole school year. Most of the boys, except for a few of the more mature ones, with more developed interests in those girls, were in jeans and t-shirts or what every they put on for school that day. I think that sums up gender relations my son’s maturity level pretty well. He is starting to gain some interest in girls, but any practical pursuit of these budding desires is embryonic at best, completely absent at worst.
And I am a little relieved. At this point, he has enough to deal with. I have enough to deal with!
I stood in the hallway for the last few minutes. Chaperoning sounded dreadful, so I didn’t. I could see through the door into the dark gym, hear the DJ… The ending was just as described in the article, without the song. The music died, the lights flipped on, and promptly at nine, everyone headed towards the doors and home.