Linn-Mar students organizing alternate 'Grindfest' dance

Event being planned in protest of new district policy at school dances

Some Linn-Mar High School students upset with policies at their school's dances have decided to start their own.

Junior Kyle Jordan, 17, and some of his friends have organized an alternative to the school's annual Women Pay All dance Feb. 25, called "Grindfest 2012."

The seeds for Grindfest were first planted in the fall when a parent posted a blog entry about the school's homecoming dance complaining about inappropriate behavior place called "grinding," where dancers rub against each other.

In the aftermath of this and other parent complaints, the school district sent a letter home clarifying what constituted inappropriate dancing. The new policy instituted a dress code and ruled out any grinding or other extremely close dances.

Jordan's not a fan of the new policy, but what motivated him and his friends to create the separate dance was the implication in the original blog post that students were acting immorally.

"We wanted to reject the insinuation that the students were getting drunk, getting high and doing other obscene things," he said. "We just want to provide a safe place for an outraged student body to go somewhere where they can still have fun and do the things they're accustomed to doing."

Jordan's parents support the effort and have even agreed to chaperone the event, along with several other parents. A bouncer and a police officer also have been secured to help with safety and security for the evening.

The event is now sold out, with more than 300 tickets sold at $10 each.

Leonard Olson, who handles reservations for the Marion American Legion, said that he booked the students only after hearing about the security precautions that they had taken. He plans to attend the event himself to make sure nothing inappropriate happens.

Before moving ahead with the reservation, Olson made a call to Jeff Gustason, principal at Linn-Mar High School, to get some guidance. The principal made it clear that the school could not have a say in the decision.

"We had a long chat, and he said it's not a school event, so it's not against school policy," said Olson.

Placing the student-organized event at the same time as the school dance may be against the spirit of the new policies, but what students and their parents decide to do on their own time is not the school's concern, said Gustason.

"If students don't want to attend to protest the updated guidelines, that's their choice. If parents want to support their students in speaking out, that's their choice as well," he said "It's not going to change our decision."

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