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Ryan Bakken: Grandmas provide answer to grinding

Ryan Bakken

Thank goodness that my days as a serial high school dance chaperone came last decade, not this one.

My ticker never would have stood up to the grinding -- a dance move that is basically simulated sex. My heart would have been short of blood because all of it would have rushed to my blushing cheeks.

You likely have heard about grinding recently because it has been in the local news. On Sept. 10, Grand Forks Red River students left their school dance en masse after officials insisted that the grinding stop. So, the students went elsewhere to grind.

A grinding ban seems logical to me. What isn't tolerated in history class shouldn't be tolerated at a school dance, at least in the view of this old fogey.

On the other hand, adults also should look back at the fussing about their music and their dance moves their adolescence.

Remember the uproar over Elvis "The Pelvis" Presley and his gyrating hips/loins? Seems like petty stuff now, huh? And maybe even back then?

Remember how authorities believed that rock 'n roll and Buddy Holly were the work of the devil? Or that the long-haired, peace-spewing Beatles were corrupting our youth?

Looking back now, the Beatles hair wasn't all that long. And their "corruption" was preaching about peace and love. Anarchists, huh?

History shows that music, musicians, dance moves and cultural change are common ways for youth to establish their identity and their independence. As is typical for North Dakota, we're about three years behind times when it comes to the grinding phenomenon.

Starting in 2010, high school dances nationwide were under scrutiny by administrators tired of grinding, also known as freak dancing. Schools responded by requiring a signed contract where students must promise not to grind or wear provocative clothing. Minnetonka (Minn.) High School administrators preached to dance "like Grandma's watching."

The idea, Minnetonka Principal David Adney told in 2010, is that teens may be unconcerned about annoying their parents "but they do care what a grandmother thinks."

Also, they likely care if a grinding-viewing grandma croaks on the spot.

So, the solution for curbing grinding seems obvious: Hire grandmas as chaperones.

Bakken is a columnist for the Grand Forks Herald, which is a part of Forum News Service. Email him at