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Freak(y) Dancing

Another dance craze is sweeping high schools, leaving parents (perhaps even Elvis) blushing. And - here's an important difference from previous crazes - it makes many students apprehensive to be part of it.

It's called freak dancing, and involves kids engaging in an extreme form of sexually suggestive moves to mostly hip-hop music. And it raises the perpetual "what's appropriate" question for teenagers.

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One element of freak dancing is particularly troublesome - "contests" to see which partner will break away from overtly provocative moves first, a kind of "chicken" game. This blurs the line between having fun and aggressive, unwanted sexual behavior.

Such erotic dancing didn't come out of the blue. Teens who watch such shows as "Dawson's Creek" or "Friends" are given a distinct message that sex is not only recreational, but often completely isolated from love.

As portrayed in movies like "Footloose" or "Dirty Dancing," teen dancing often has been an intergenerational point of departure. Remember the twist, hustle, lambada? Even the waltz once was scandalous.

But freak dancing isn't just another teen protest. It's like what a Supreme Court justice once said about pornography - that you can't define it, but you know it when you see it.

This craze requires helping students who feel uncomfortable about it learn how to just step aside.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor