Rejecting Southwest High School’s new grinding policy, senior Max Horn (17) coordinated an alternative winter formal called “Snowballz” February 1st with the help of a few friends. This idea was widely supported by the student body, as Horn sold nearly 400 tickets in one week, while student council’s winter formal sold half that number.
“What really motivated us to host Snowballz was how the students were feeling; we were hearing complaints all around school. Hearing what those students had to say made us feel that someone needed to step in and make a dance that included everyone and every form of dancing, grinding or not,” explained Horn. News of the party traveled quickly; in addition to Southwest, students from nearby schools South, Washburn, DeLaSalle, Edina, and Holy Angels purchased tickets.
Before long, school administration began noticing students eagerly handing over cash in the halls, since tickets were sold mostly on campus ground. Even though Snowballz was not plannes by any official Southwest organization, the event became closely affiliated with the school, raising the concern of parents and staff regarding Southwest’s reputation.
Principal Dr. Smith stressed his disapproval on the topic on his blog, “Two consenting adults in the privacy of their own choosing can do as they choose. Sexual movements with some clothes on may not be sex in some definition…I think the behavior can be very degrading to both female and male. In movements described as lap dancing or dirty dancing, the same actions would not be permitted on one’s leg by his or her favorite pet… Rubbing one’s private parts in public is not acceptable either by another or self.”
Organizing Snowballz was no easy feat, as venue after venue mysteriously canceled Horn’s event. On his principal’s blog, Southwest Catch the Wave, Dr. Smith posted under “Which Dance is Your Child Attending” on Sunday January 27, 2013: “So, as it should be, it is up to the families to decide the venues for their children… There is no problem with students and/or their families having parties and socials at any time.”
Determined to host the dance he promised, Horn found a last-minute venue at Safari Restaurant and Hall, a Somali restaurant on Lake Street. A few days after the party, the problem with the venues was eventually identified. “Although [Dr. Smith] said that it’s up to the families, he called the two previous venues and had them cancel the event, so it really wasn’t up to the families…We didn’t know it was him at first, but then he admitted it to [a student],” revealed Horn.
The main concern regarding grinding that most schools emphasize is that students may feel “pressured” into this type of dance. Because “everyone is doing it”, teenagers possibly sense the same peer pressure to grind as they would in a situation involving drinking. “People think grinding is this really inappropriate thing, but really what is going to happen to you—get pregnant? I doubt it. Besides, a guy will ask you to dance, and you can say no. He’s not going to just come up and start humping you,” commented an anonymous student.
Horn also considered safety reasons in addition to grinding as a factor of Dr. Smith’s dissatisfaction with the alternative dance. “The concerns he had about safety were none to worry about—we had over eight adults surrounding the dance floor including two police officers, two security guards, three bouncers, and the owner of the venue. But what really made this work was that every student that attended the dance was sober and respectful to the adults that were in attendance,” reassured Horn.
While deemed inappropriate by school faculty, perhaps the option of two different dances was the best solution for Southwest’s new dance policy. Students were able to make a decision about which dance to attend, and nobody was judged based on which one they chose.
“Expecting teenagers not to grind is unrealistic. Dance for our generation has changed,” commented sophomore Abby Eckhart. “Getting physically close to somebody is just more appealing than jumping up and down like 5th graders.”
Acknowledging the majority of the student body’s disappointment in the new grinding rule and the efforts of individuals like Max Horn to change it, Student Council may need to take the policy into reconsideration.
The majority of Snowballz’s profit was donated to Hallie Brown, a brave student fighting cancer.