Close Contact Controversy: the Westford Academy Grinding Ban

Alexander Lee
& Anastasha Echavarri
News Editor

Over the last few years, many New England schools have been banning grinding from their school dances, including Chelmsford High School and Oakland High School.  Some schools in New Hampshire have even cancelled dances altogether due to administrations’ inability to control grinding.  The fate of WA school dances is at this time unknown.

Often referred to as “grind-dancing,” grinding is a form of close-contact dancing which was also customary at WA dances. Last year, after the Heat Wave Dance in March, the administration chose to ban any sort of grinding from future dances. Vice-Principal Adam Goldberg previewed the pending rule in several junior history classes last year.

Goldberg said, “I feel it’s appropriate; I feel that it’s a difficult change, but it’s getting us to bring up good conversation between teachers in the building and students. I also feel that it is appropriate for future dances to come.”

There were challenges to control the grinding at the Welcome Back Dance this year.

“Not everyone was following the rules. The dance I thought was okay. We did have some students that pushed the boundaries. Some students had to be removed from the dance, but a good number of students were at the dance,” said Goldberg.

From its onset, many students from all grades were very upset with the decision. Current seniors Jake Mooney and Kyle Boyd immediately tried to overturn the ban. They repeatedly went to administration and tried to work out a compromise.

Mooney said after the Welcome Back Dance, “ the student body and faculty need to talk, because at the last dance we showed that we can dance reasonably. I think with the negotiations we could come to some agreement or middle ground.”

He also added that many student organizations like DECA and NHS would be severely affected by the grinding ban because less interest in dances would mean less funding for their club.

“We’ll find other types of events to have on Friday night evening that would normally be a dance. We have several ideas which are still in conversation,” said Goldberg. He gave no exact ideas but said they would be either athletic or recreational.

NHS President and current senior Sandeep Garikapaty who organized the Heat Wave Dance last year said that he didn’t think that the dancing was “grossly inappropriate”. He also believes that the grinding ban would affect NHS funding, and at the NHS meeting on September 28th, the club brainstormed potential ideas for a new fundraiser such as an all school sleepover on the football field, which was immediately shot down.

Overall, WA students feel that the grinding ban is both unfair and impractical. As students, they feel that they could keep grinding appropriately, and that a ban is unreasonable.

“I don’t like it. Nobody goes to the dances anymore and they’re really lame,” said junior Scott Coull.

Interestingly enough, another common theme on the ban was “no comment”. Students and faculty alike refused to comment on the grinding ban. Junior Brendan Donahue, who last year created a massive petition against the grinding ban, refused to comment because “I got in huge trouble last year for it”. Furthermore, dual-advisors for student council John Nidzgorski and Lori Ditto both said that “I have no comment at this time”. Also, senior class president Richa Kaul also wished not to comment.

In addition to this, there has been a rumor that has been recently spread about the upcoming Halloween dance produced by DECA. Some said that the grinding ban would be lifted for this event, others even suggested that the dance would be cancelled.

Teacher at WA and advisor of DECA, John Rogers states that the ban is still in place and that the dance is still on, contrary to the rumors that have been going around the school.

Also new to the DECA Halloween dance this year, Rogers said that tickets will be sold beforehand instead of the night of so that there will not be the usual rush. They will be sold up to a week before the event during and after school,  and students will be able to buy tickets at their leisure.

There will also be a costume contest.

“We’re working on a way for the crowd to text in their favorites,” said Rogers.

The Halloween DECA dance, being held on the 29th of October will have the ban in place contrary to the rumors.

“It’s going to be bigger and better than ever,” said Rogers.

Although the makeup of WA dances are rapidly changing, the grinding rule will remain in place.