The Dialectic Dance

Re: “Shall We Dance?” To The Editor: Excuse me for the delay of this response, but I found Mr. Hoyt’s Phillipian article – the one about getting one’s groove on in the form of sexually deviant jerks and mannerisms – very compelling. I sometimes feel that some of my peers do not appreciate the true intimacy one can have without suggesting what one would do behind a closed door. Not to put myself above any of my peers, but having learned how to waltz, foxtrot, salsa, etc., from my parents has made me regard dancing as something higher than just an exaggerated swaying and thrusting of the pelvis. I recognize that grinding is something very uncomfortable for students to discuss, but I am willing to do so. Here goes: First of all, I’d like to say that I agree with Mr. Hoyt; there are other forms of dancing that don’t simulate fornication. I’m sure that many dancers and chaperones would find the former preferable to the latter. While talking to some of my dorm mates, I found out that many students felt uncomfortable while grinding – particularly the females. When most of my friends and I go out to a dance, it’s to have fun, and if the opportunity arises to dance with the cute boy from math class, I would prefer it to be casual and personal. Dancing face to face with a friend is better than feeling sodomized. I want to see the person I am dancing with! I don’t want to feel subjected to. Some may argue that there is a connection made while grinding – that a couple can reach a new level of physicality and enhance comfort with their own bodies. But I say, “Why should I have to see you and your girlfriend reach this ‘level’ at a school function?” All the girls in my dorm agreed that if the lights were turned on at dances, they would feel distressed about grinding. So…if one feels uncomfortable dancing with the lights on, has grinding really succored students’ comfort with their own bodies and those of their dates? The real prompt for this letter was not to criticize grinding, but to complain about the music that doesn’t allow us, the students, to do anything but. At my most recent dorm meeting, I brought up that as a freshman, I was turned off by the “formal” and “semi-formal” dances. I remembered getting dressed up and putting on my best pair of heels to go out for a night of “formal” dancing – the waltz, the foxtrot, maybe even some swing dancing. The reality of the dance, however, was a different story. Elegantly dressed couples danced to the same music in the same manner as they had at other, more casual dances. The whole night was rather anti-climactic. A girl from my dorm had a similar experience. In fact, most asked if formal dances could play songs that would allow for more suitable dancing. They argued that many of the students would like to slow dance at formal dances – but overall, they kept on talking about the connection that these kinds of dances could bring to the student body. So, with the suggestions of my dorm mates, friends, parents, and myself, I propose that at our next formal dance, we have at least one song conducive to slow dancing, swing dancing, or even waltzing. I would like to see how many students would like it and how many would not. Perhaps, if it goes well and students show an interest, we can have more of these songs at other formal dances. There are many options for learning these styles, and perhaps we can even offer weekend classes to teach them. The class and technique of ballroom dances are such to make one see one’s partner as a person, not as a humping toy. The ability to connect with one’s dancing mate is one of the best things one can ever experience while “growing up.” Being able to move at the same time, master complicated steps, and rely on one another for the slightest shuffle and lift of a foot can effectively improve one’s people skills and ability to work in a group. In addition, it can help to teach a dear lesson: we, as a community, rely on each other. That is truly what makes Andover work – our links. Taking the hand of my dance partner, and feeling the squeeze of his hand to signal the next turn or twist, even feeling the shakiness and nervousness stemming from his stiffened wrist are what I crave for while dancing. Because, in the end, most of my peers aren’t looking for sex; we just want to hold hands. Sincerely, Yisa Fermin ‘08