City Paper is not for tourists
Photo by Tavallai
I pity the parent who must turn to Laura Sessions Stepp to form an educated opinion on freak dancing. “What should we think about freak dancing?” a parent asked Stepp recently. Do I note a trace of self-deprecating humor in Stepp’s reply—-“What, indeed?” Even Laura Sessions Stepp must know that she can’t be the authority on getting freaky. I mean, check out this line:
… I, too, have been wondering what to make of kids and teens grinding their bodies together to the sexually explicit lyrics of hip-hop or rap, in twos, threes and chains of four or more. [Emphasis mine]
What follows is an exploratory column on the effects of “freak dancing” that confirms my darkest fear: Laura Sessions Stepp is not joking. In a rare window into Stepp’s mind, we find that she really has been thinking about kids and teens grinding their bodies together to sexually explicit lyrics. (Just add scare-quotes around “hip-hop” and “rap.”) Let’s see what she comes up with.
Parents have been freaking about freaking for years now—-Stepp notes she first investigated the issue seven years ago—-and while the concern about getting down on the dance floor is a valid one, Stepp’s treatment is typical in its disregard for actual youth culture.
First, Stepp cites some experts who claim that binge drinking and drug use are far more important issues for parents to worry about than sexy dancing, which has no demonstrated link to risky sexual behavior. Then, she disregards them: “Those are good points, I think, though not a reason not to also raise concerns about freaking.”
So Stepp goes straight to the source: Her projected, totally made up idea of what freak dancers think.
They’ll respond, of course, that grinding doesn’t mean anything; it’s just what kids today do. To which a parent might say, if that’s true, how will you eventually move, if you so desire, from meaningless dance-floor sex to something meaningful? What do you say to each other after the music is over? How do you come up with a different vocabulary to advance the relationship?
Yes, freak dancers: You may be missing out on key relationship stages, including the Flirty Text Message Stage and the Shopping Mall Iced Coffee Consumption Stage. Stepp has the solution: to show that freakin’ isn’t the only way, teach kids swing dancing, the Electric Slide, and a sexy “Dancing With the Stars” routine featuring Mark Ballas and Kristi Yamaguchi. To recap: Today’s youth culture is bad, everything was better back in the good old days, and Yamaguchi’s still got it!
Which leads us to the story’s most haunting passage:
But is simulated sex actually sexy?* This is where, instead of shaking our head, we introduce them to the idea that dances can be highly erotic by delivering nothing while promising everything.
Note to the impressionable youth of America: Do not let Laura Sessions Stepp’s idea of the “highly erotic” ruin your high school dance for you. Additionally, don’t let it ruin sexual intercourse, or, like, the entire rest of your life. Stepp’s conclusion reveals the deeper concern behind the freaks:
“Any other type of dancing seems not as cool,” she [a member of the youth of America] said. “I freak, and a lot of my friends do. But I sometimes wonder, are we going to dance like this at our weddings?”
Which suggests that all is not lost, particularly if we keep the conversation going.
No, all is not lost: Even if they occassionally get freaky, teenage girls are still living their lives concerned about their future marriage prospects. I can’t think of anything sexier.
* Yes. – AH