The first grinding-free dance at Geneva Community High School on Friday featured a conga line and songs by Michael Jackson, but only about 150 students.
Principal Thomas Rogers admitted the turnout for the Black Light dance was lower than usual, but insisted the event was a success despite some students' unhappiness at the school's recent ban on grinding, or dancing "back-to-front."
"I know that style of dancing, grinding, is popular at clubs these days, but a Geneva High School dance is not a club," said Rogers, who called grinding "sexually explicit and sexually suggestive" and detailed the new rules in a letter mailed to parents Feb. 7.
Students who attend school dances must now wear a wrist band, which gets snipped off at the first dancing-related offense. On the second offense, students can be asked to leave the dance and parents notified, Rogers said.
"If there is a real lack of cooperation they may risk attendance at future dances, but I doubt it will get to that point," he said. "I have a lot of faith in our students."
Before Friday's dance, school officials worked with the DJ to have an "appropriate" playlist and avoid music with "a really heavy bass," Rogers said.
Sophomore Victoria Conlon, who attended Friday's dance, said many students avoided the dance because of the ban.
"A lot of people did not know how to dance (without grinding), but I feel like as we get used to it, we'll figure out a way to do it," she said. "I think it's a good rule to keep, so that the students don't have that awkward pressure."
Administrators decided to implement the new rule in response to concerns by students who approached Rogers after the homecoming dance in late September, Rogers said.
"They said there were extremely uncomfortable with what was going on," he said.
Teachers and parents also expressed their concern, he said.
Geneva District 304 School Board President Mary Stith said the board and the PTO supported the new policy.
"As a parent, they most certainly have my support," said Stith, whose youngest son is a senior at the high school.
But some students said the school is overreacting.
Sophomore Jordan Touro said grinding is common at all high school dances.
"If students don't like it, they shouldn't be doing it," he said, referring to those who asked for the new policy. "It's going to ruin prom for the seniors."
Senior Erin Deane said she was initially planning to go to the Black Light dance, but changed her mind because of the ban.
"Last year, the principal joked around about a 'one-foot rule' to measure us (while dancing)," she said. "I guess this year they are serious about it."
Deane is still planning to go to prom, but she thinks those who complained are making a big deal out of nothing.
"They are not going to stop it. This is our generation's way of dancing," she said.