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The Dance That No One Danced

by Ronald A. Rowe | March 6th, 2014 | Social, Tweens

edge of danceMy son, Max, is in the seventh grade. His Middle School is having a dance Friday night. This is the first time such an opportunity has come around for my normally-social son and he has little to no interest in going. Both my wife and I have very fond memories of our respective Junior High dances and have encouraged him to go but he just isn’t interested.

That’s not the same as saying he doesn’t want to go. He’s not opposed to it. It just sounds to him like less fun than staying at home and playing video games or going to the movies or any of a dozen other options.

To a Tween who has yet to develop any notion of romance, there isn’t any attraction there. Dancing is OK in the living room and for an extremely limited amount of time (approximately the length of two songs) but spending two hours in the gymnasium listening to loud music and just… dancing? Nothing else? Not so fun.

It doesn’t help any that his friend, who has one whole dance under his belt, told him that he isn’t going to this dance and that the DJ was “like, a hundred years old”. I’m sure it would depress me greatly to see what Max’s peers think a hundred years old looks like.

The dynamics surrounding the dance, themed “Black and White,” are an interesting look into the greater world of Tweens. The 12-year-old girls can’t sign up for the dance fast enough. They are begging moms and dads for a new black and white dress to wear. They are planning sleepovers afterward and talk to their friends in the cafeteria about who is going and what they will wear and what the music will be like. Virtually all are planning to attend yet very few have dates to the dance. Partly because that isn’t how it works anymore and partly because…

The 12-year-old boys are staying home in droves. There has been little dance-related conversation at the boys’ table and even less enthusiasm. And it doesn’t look like bluster to me. This isn’t a case of Danny Zuko trying to act cool in front of his friends. These boys just could not care any less about dressing up in black and white and spending two hours dancing in the gym.

While there is a clear consensus there doesn’t seem to be a common motivation. Max’s reaction seems to be fairly representative of the pack. Centenarian DJ aside, they don’t particularly dislike the idea of the dance. It’s a case of utter apathy toward it.

So what can we make of this phenomenon? Not much really. It’s no revelation that girls and boys develop at different rates. You would see a similar reaction in reverse if the school were to sponsor a Black and White Paintball event instead of a dance. This is just a fresh reminder that the Tween years are their own special time and the social mores of childhood are dissolving but the patterns of the teen years have yet to set in.

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