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By the time I entered high school as a wide-eyed, bushy-tailed freshman, school-wide dances were on the brink of extinction. This was for two reasons:
1. “Grinding,” as it was referred to by students and school officials alike, was not tolerated under any circumstances. Popularized in the early aughts, grinding was not so much a dance move as it was an elaborate excuse for an adolescent boy to rub his erection up against a girl’s backside. It was dry humping disguised as dancing, and it was all the rage just as I entered my first year as a high school student. Music videos glorified it, lyrics from 50 Cent, Chingy, Ja Rule, et cetera encouraged it, and worst of all it wasn’t allowed at these dances — which of course made the kids just want to do it even more.
2. Students, it seemed, were beginning to suspect that they were being duped by administrators — and to an extent, they were. I think in the ’90s (long before grinding became a thing), a high school dance was a great way to keep an eye on the students of a high school without actually letting on that you were keeping an eye on them. But now, with grinding being banned, there was no real reason to attend. If you were a student who indulged in illicit behavior, a dance was the last place you wanted to be on a Friday night. Why risk getting an MIP (Minor In Possession) for drinking alcohol or arrested for having pot on you if 1. You weren’t allowed to grind, and 2. You had to pay five bucks to get in?
Chaperones for the high school dances tried their best to patrol the area around where students would dance (usually in packs at the very center of the gym so as not to be seen by said chaperones), and at one point we (as students) believed that if you got caught grinding with a fellow classmate, you ran the risk of getting suspended — although that was one-hundred percent a rumor that got started out of thin air. No one, as far as I know, ever actually got suspended. The worst thing that could happen to you was getting thrown out.
Eventually, kids just stopped showing up altogether. My high school, which before my time would throw a dance after every single home football and basketball game, saw dwindling attendance numbers and scaled back.
We had Homecoming, one dance after our first home football and basketball games of the year, and then prom (which was juniors and seniors only). So for those counting, that’s three dances for the entire year for freshman John Duda.
As a freshman, I wasn’t all that interested in girls. I’ve talked about this before, but I’ll say it again for those who don’t know — I truly believed I was going to play college basketball. I ate, slept, and breathed basketball. It’s all I wanted to do, and since I was in the very, very early stages of puberty, I knew I wasn’t going to get any play with girls. I had a buzzcut so that the hair would stay out of my eyes when — you guessed it — I was playing basketball.
And on the night of the first dance of the year (Homecoming), I had originally told my mom and dad I wasn’t going. I wanted to call up a few of my friends and play basketball. They knew I wasn’t going to be a college basketball player and wisely forced me to go to that dance. I’ll never forget walking into the gym after getting dropped off by my dad. I had on what can best be described as a “brown out” — khaki slacks, brown dress shirt, and a brown and white tie from the very back of my dad’s suit closet. Just looking like a complete fool with three of my closest friends next to me. I could feel the bass from “Holidae In” in my chest cavity. I wanted to puke I was so nervous.
I saw senior guys I idolized in the middle of the floor, shielding themselves from view of the chaperones and grinding their rock hard boners into the backs of girls that I could only dream of speaking to. And then the music stopped. The DJ yelled out, “I NEED EVERYONE ON THE DANCE FLOOR IMMEDIATTTTEEEELLYYYYYY!!!!!”
Oh my God, Becky, look at her butt.
My best friend Sam looked at me and said, “Dude, I gotta find someone to dance with. Let’s go.”
We ran around the most outer edge of the dance circle. Most people were already paired up and the intro to the song was just about over. We heard the bassline and the beat creep in.
*Dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun*
And then from seemingly out of nowhere, Sam and I spotted two girls we knew from our grade. I awkwardly pointed at one, Sam did the same, and before I knew it I, too, was grinding a semi-hard erection into a girl’s butt. Everyone has a song like this — a song that they associate with their transition from child to full-blown teen, and for me it was “Baby Got Back.”
Up to that point, it was the most action I had ever gotten, and I remain convinced to this day that this is when I gave up on my dream to be a college basketball player. “Baby Got Back” is responsible for my sexual awakening. Large butts dominated my thoughts the rest of that evening and throughout high school. A 14-year-old virgin just trying to grind his way out of sexual frustration. What a time..
Image via YouTube