Inappropriate Dancing at Schools: What Can a DJ to do Help? By: Matt Ryan

November 8, 2010 by Matt Ryan

Several times each year, I come across an article in the newspaper or see a segment on the news discussing the increasing problem schools are having with inappropriate dancing at their school dances. The pieces always feature interviews of local school administrators to discuss what they are doing to curb the problem. Ultimately, an increased public awareness of the issue results and therefore increased sensitivity to it among school administrators. I’ve heard of some schools taking drastic measures, as far as cancelling dances altogether because of their concern over inappropriate dancing. In several of these instances, I’ve heard groups of students decided to host their own function because the school dance was cancelled. From a philosophical standpoint, I would much rather see students at school, in a safe, chaperoned environment, having fun at the dance, than out on the streets getting into the hundreds of worse alternatives available to them. For this reason, I believe dances need to be fun – on the students’ terms – but still within the scope of what is generally deemed acceptable for school settings.

DJs understand better than anyone that the inappropriate dancing concerns are nothing new and probably date back to Elvis in the 1950s or even before. Music evolves and so does kids’ dancing. Schools are working hard to keep dances safe and clean and going about it in many different ways.

Many schools will approach you, the DJ, as the first line of defense. Even for me as a school teacher and multi-op DJ owner for 15 years, this area turns very gray. There are certainly musical selections that are not appropriate for school settings based on lyrical content, but strictly using music as a means to control the type of dancing students are doing has never proven effective for me. Students will dance as they choose to anything short of Disney show tunes. Slow dances are somewhat effective for breaking up the dance floor a bit, and I can think of a few selections that elicit rough dancing, but for the most part the specific type of dancing that takes places is largely out of the DJ’s control.

So what is a school to do to keep the dancing clean? More importantly, what is a DJ to do when a school dance advisor brings up the conversation? As one of my school clients so eloquently put it, “this is a battle that must be won with the hearts and minds of the students.” There is no quick fix that any school or DJ can put into place to solve the problem overnight. Schools that are making headway with this issue are holding class meetings, putting segments on their video announcements, posting specific guidelines for inappropriate dancing, providing many chaperones at the dance, and enforcing the rules. There is no one magic solution and it really takes a substantial effort from the school – not just unloading the issue on to the DJ, setting him or her up for failure.

As a DJ serving schools, you must be committed to helping them address this issue, but not by making promises you cannot deliver on. The best way you can help is to be a resource for your school dance advisors, sharing with them ideas you’ve seen work well with other schools. Schools’ reputations hinge on their ability to provide a safe environment for their students and they will not put that reputation on the line for an extra-curricular dance. Savvy DJ business owners understand the future of their business is dependent upon loyal clients such as schools, so it is in their best interest to partner with the schools to develop solutions that satisfy everyone involved to allow dances to remain a fun part of the school culture.

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Matt Ryan (14 Posts)

Matt Ryan

Matt Ryan is a multi-op DJ business owner, radio personality, developer of School Dance Pros, and educator. Matt has been performing school events, along with many other types of functions, since 1996. Currently Matt Ryan Mobile DJ Entertainment performs approximately 250 events per year, with nearly half of them being school and teen events. Matt is well-known as an air personality on WNCI 97.9, a Top 40 radio station in Columbus, OH, and is a middle school teacher and coach. Matt is able to provide unprecedented insight to other DJs about how school dances are organized. To contact Matt, email Matt@SchoolDancePros.com or visit www.SchoolDancePros.com


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