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The Dangers of Dance Culture

For those that went to the dance, it’s clear that Winfo’s Winter Wonderland theme was a resounding success. With a seasonal backdrop, glimmering lights, games, refreshments, and even snow, the wintry scene in the athletic lobby withstood the unusually warm temperatures outside. Friends and couples alike danced the night away surrounded by the splendid decorations.

The theme, however, wasn’t the only special aspect of this year’s Winfo. As most probably remember, one other thing Student Council aimed to stress was that “anybody can ask anybody.” While Winfo is traditionally a Sadie Hawkins dance, Student Council wanted to make sure that no one felt restricted in whom he/she could ask. Although most of the asks this year still stuck to the tradition, this announcement led some to wonder about our dance culture.

While the announcement wasn’t made because stigma surrounding dance asks has become toxic, was that reassurance necessary to make people feel comfortable with asking anyone they’d like? Would people have been even more reluctant to stray from the status quo? Would it be looked down upon for a boy to ask a girl to Winfo?

These were the sorts of questions that arose, and they were thankfully addressed by GROW at last Monday’s Community Café, at which their discussion revolved around the idea of dance culture, and especially how it pertained to our school.

A couple of the main issues that came up were the discomfort surrounding “rejecting asks” and the pressure some people feel when being asked. Of course, most of the “dance asks” are planned with a level of certainty, and result in success. But what about the more uncertain ones?

Even though everyone has a right to politely turn down an ask, it was generally agreed that the idea of rejecting someone’s ask was extremely uncomfortable. The pressure that comes with a public ask and not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings can overpower someone’s personal preferences, which may lead to future misunderstandings or a belief that you can’t ever say no. What’s more, they found that the boys in the room felt more comfortable with turning down an ask than the girls.

Seeing the cute, creative, and often pun-related asks is still one of my favorite parts of the dances. It’s clear, however, that aspects of dance culture come across as somewhat oppressive or restrictive. Hopefully, the introduction of an “anybody asks anybody” practice will start to alleviate these pressures in the dances to come.


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