March 22, 2019
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A grinding halt for Bangor High School dances?

Norris Nickerson stands in one of the main hallways at Bangor High School where he has been the principal for more than 20 years. Nickerson says there will be no more dances affiliated with the school until students agree to stop simulating sex as they dance, also known as "grinding." Photographed Tuesday afternoon, January 12, 2010. BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY JOHN CLARKE RUSS

Inappropriate behavior by students at Bangor High School dances recently prompted school officials to temporarily suspend school-sponsored dances.

BHS Principal Norris Nickerson said students at the dances were refusing to comply with the school’s rules regarding the hip-hop dance style known as grinding and other forms of “dirty dancing.”

“We’ve tried to take care of the problem, but the inappropriate behavior has continued and, in my opinion, has become worse. The decision was made that dances would be stopped until this behavior is under control,” Nickerson said this week.

He said the school had held about four dances so far this school year and that the students’ behavior was out of control.

When the school informed members of the Student Council of its decision, the council put forth a plan that would allow the dances to continue, but without any inappropriate grinding and dirty dancing.

“They put forth a proposal and we’ve taken a look at it,” Nickerson said Monday. “Right now it looks as if we may try to hold another dance on Feb. 26. We’ll see how it goes. If they can put an end to the behavior we can move forward; if not, then there will be no more dances. It’s as simple as that.”

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Nickerson said officials had not addressed whether the school-sponsored senior prom would be affected.

“I understand that there are parents who may be angry,” Nickerson said Monday. “I would say to them that they should be angry, and if they want to come observe the behavior that goes on at these dances, then perhaps they should.”

Grinding, a dance style that generally involves a boy grinding his crotch into a girl’s behind, is a national trend and schools across the country are dealing with the issue, Norris said.

Three years ago grinding on the school dance floor came to light here when two southern Maine schools attempted to ban the practice, prompting a flurry of complaints from students and some parents who accused the schools of stifling teens’ creativity and imposing their moral values onto the students.

A message left for the teacher adviser to the Bangor High School Student Council was not returned Tuesday.

One senior student, who is involved in many school activities but asked not to be identified, said she felt that the teachers who chaperoned the dances overreacted to the students’ behavior.

“It’s very loud in there and it’s dark and in order to even have a conversation you have to get kind of close, and if you get within a foot of someone, there is a chaperone there warning you that you are too close.”

The student acknowledged that there were some students who probably danced inappropriately, with a boy rubbing up behind a girl in a sexual manner. But she said those students could be dealt with independently and asked to leave, rather than school administrators canceling the dances, which serve as fundraisers for the entire student body.

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