Students threaten boycott over ban on dirty dancing

Posted Oct. 21, 2010, at 7:05 a.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — Some students at Maine’s Portland High School are threatening to boycott this weekend’s homecoming dance because the popular dance style known as grinding is being prohibited.

Portland high Principal Mike Johnson says parents and teachers urged him to ban grinding because it makes some girls uncomfortable.

Grinding involves moves that some consider to be too overtly sexual. Johnson’s ban mirrors efforts across Maine to stop a form of dirty dancing that dates back several years. Grinding has raised concerns recently at Deering High School in Portland and at Windham High School, which has stopped sponsoring all dances except spring prom and will hold a meeting for parents on the subject at 5:15 p.m. Thursday.

“We regret to say that given the extent of the inappropriate touching, and our inability to discern what is consensual and what is sexually assaultive behavior, we believe we can no longer ensure the safety of your children,” Windham High School administrators wrote in a letter that was e-mailed to parents on Monday.

In Albion earlier this month, the school board decided to form a committee to set guidelines for appropriate attire and conduct at school dances, after parents saw photos of students dancing provocatively at Lawrence High School’s homecoming dance.

A similar debate is happening at Messalonskee High School in Oakland, where a mass of students left the homecoming dance in September after being told that they would have to leave if they refused to dance appropriately.

Bangor High School banned grinding in January, and Cape Elizabeth and Wells high schools took similar action in 2006.

Portland High senior Felix Cobanovic tells the Portland Press Herald grinding is the dance style of his generation. He says he’s going to attend the dance on Saturday, even if grinding is banned.

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