When I was in high school, I attended a Metallica concert. It was the loudest thing I have ever experienced. Until I chaperoned a middle school dance.
There were actually two school dances that night – my son is in fifth grade, and the first dance was for fifth through seventh graders. That would be my detail. The second dance was for eighth grade and up. My daughter is in eighth grade. She would be fine with me at home, thank you very much, she informed me.
Although it was held the day after Halloween, it was still a costume party. My son, being the traditionalist he is, was an armadillo. (This follows a long line of standard costumes that include a rabid raccoon, a lightning bug and his grandfather.)
My duty for the night was to monitor one of the exits. This exit was to the restrooms, and my job was to make sure those leaving were only leaving for the restroom, and were also returning, rather than going adventuring down the halls.
I stood with my best Dalton from “Road House” appearance, trying to convey to these middle schoolers that I was in charge here.
I quickly learned that I was not at all a bouncer, but rather a revolving door for middle school girls to stream past on the way to the restroom. By my estimate, every girl there went to the restroom at least 900 times, often in packs. I quickly determined it was not a restroom, but rather a conference room.
The dance itself was quite entertaining. I can report to you that dance skills have not improved much over the last three decades. Even some of the songs are the same. When “Thriller” came on, there were scores of kids doing the same dance that I did many moons ago – jumping up and down and place and yelping, “Wooooo!!!!” over and over. Really high-end moves.
There were some new songs played, of course, and I was happy to be able to elicit some looks of concern/horror from some of the partygoers when I knew words to such songs as The Black Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow.” The look on a group of tweens when I sing, “You’re so 2000 and late”? Priceless. Ah, the perks of spending time in a car with a 13-year-old.
But the noise escalation – the one that really hit home – was during one of the current song crazes, “The Fox” by the Norwegian band Ylvis. Now, I’m not the most studied scholar on Norwegian music, but I’ve got a hunch they’ve produced finer pieces than this.
For those of you who have not heard the song, just hop on your Google machine. Apparently this song is the battle cry of 10-12-year-olds right now. When the song played, it was as if some hypnotizing force came over the room. All of the kids merged into a giant pack in the middle of the room and bounced up and down, screeching “WHAT THE FOX SAYS!!!!” at, by my estimate, 8,000 decibels.
One song that had a similar effect, but only on the girls at the party, was Carrie Underwood’s “Stronger.” When the first few beats of this song started playing, the door to the conference…er, girl’s room swung open and about a dozen girls sprinted out toward the dance floor squealing “STRONGER!!!!!”
One other observation I had during the night is that I am pleased to see boys are still boys and seek out physical feats just for the sake of it. Case in point: One boy was looking for a friend, who was returning from the restroom. He was at the top of the stairs, which had about four steps. This conversation was had:
BOY 1: Dude, come back in. Everyone’s dancing!
BOY 2: Dude, move – I’m about to jump!
For what it’s worth, Dude landed the jump perfectly.
In all, it was a fun night. I enjoyed watching my son dive into this part of his life, where social interactions are a key component of your life. It’s fun for me to see my kids grow up and take on these new avenues in life. Well, at least when I’m allowed to be there.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.