GF Red River students react to school dance policy with walkout, move party elsewhere
GRAND FORKS -- Explicit rules against explicit dance moves sent Red River High School students waltzing out of the gym Friday night to reassemble two miles south on the far side of town to dance as they pleased.
It was a migration noticed by others, including police, amid the hubbub on Red River's campus after the first home football game and dance of the season.
Not that anything illegal went on, police said.
As usual, the school held a dance after the first home game, said Principal Kris Arason.
He had made clear, during the small-group orientations held at the beginning of every school year to students in all four grades, what kind of behavior was expected in class and at other school activities, including dances, Arason said.
"The night of the dance they started dancing and they were ... exhibiting behavior we had told them was not appropriate for school dances," Arason said Wednesday.
The style of dancing the school prohibits resembles what was seen in a famously controversial national performance recently by Miley Cyrus that involved a man standing close behind her during suggestive and limited choreography. Say no more.
'Face to face with space'
Friday night at Red River, one of the associate principals suggested the term "face to face with space," to help students understand what was cool with the school, dance-wise, Arason said. "The term I used is 'no grinding.'"
He said it's simply about requiring appropriate behavior, a principle spelled out in the handbook.
"We are a public high school, with students ages 14 to 18 years old," Arason said he told the students. "We are not an adult night club."
His warnings went unheeded and the grinding kept on.
The DJ music was stopped and students were told if another stop was needed, they would have to leave.
Despite paying $5 for tickets, most of the students then sashayed out the door mostly together.
About 150 left, leaving maybe 50 who ended up dancing until 11:30 p.m., Arason said.
The grinders made plans to hold their own outdoor dance on the south end of the city, plans heard by a police officer assigned to the school who radioed in the tip, said Lt. Michael Ferguson of the Grand Forks Police Department.
About 9:30 p.m., police responded to a call about loud music and lots of young people in the medical park in the 4500 block of South Washington Street. But by the time police arrived, the crowd was gone.
About 10:15 p.m., a U.S. Border Patrol agent monitoring local police radio called in to say he found a large gathering of high school students in the parking lot of South Middle School at 1999 47th Ave. S.
There was some "drag racing," loud music, but no real problem, the federal agent mentioned in his call, according to the police incident log.
By the time Grand Forks police officers arrived on the scene, only about 20 students remained, Ferguson said, and they, too, quickly piled into vehicles and left.
The earlier report of "drag racing" likely was simply students leaving the parking lot quickly when the Border Patrol agent arrived, Ferguson said.
"There were no signs of alcohol involved and no legal action to take other than disperse the crowd and send them on their way," Ferguson said. "It is common for kids to hang out in parking lots but not real common for them to be dancing in parking lots."
The students made no fuss and left, leaving no mess, Ferguson said.
Students bantered on social media about it.
"Admin didn't let us grind and were going to kick us out so we left," said one, a senior based on his twitter handle, in a tersely grammatical post. "Took the dance to South."
Others Twitterers kept track of how few students remained at the school dance, as few as seven at one point, according to one student.
Arason said the dance walkout, while unusual, wasn't any kind of angry rebellion.
"They didn't want to follow the rules, so they left. Our kids, when they left here, I can say, it was respectful, too. They just all walked out, there were no verbal exchanges."
No discipline -- other than showing them the door - was or will be needed, and the walkout didn't ruin the dance for those who remained, said the principal.
"The students who stayed at the dance that night, as they left, told us what a good time they had and thanked us for the dance."
He's talked to student leaders this week about the incident to see what they want to do about future dances, Arason said.
"We will continue to offer dances."
The next one is Sept. 28, during homecoming weekend.