"Pushing the edge of what is appropriate."
That's how Le Mars Community Schools administration described some of the moves at recent LCS dances.
"It was getting to the point where I was uncomfortable supervising the dance because of the way the kids were dancing," LCS Assistant Principal Mark Iverson said. "As a school, we couldn't defend the way the kids were dancing."
But now there is a list of new rules governing what is -- and isn't -- allowed at dances held at LCS.
And they written by students.
1. Partners must face each other when dancing
2. No grinding or dancing in a sexually suggestive manner
3. Girls' dresses and skirts must come down to their fingertips when standing up.
4. No hands on the floor
5. No making out.
LCS administrators started voicing concerns about school dances and the way some students were dancing last year, Iverson said.
After hearing from other schools making new rules about what is allowed at school dances and from parents and chaperones concerned about some dance styles, the administration decided to get the students involved.
Iverson, the LCS Student Council advisor, took the concerns to the council and asked the students their ideas for what the rules at dances should be.
"I'd rather have them come up with something and let the student body know, rather than us coming up with something and dictating it down to them," Iverson said.
He explained to the student council that a dance held on school grounds is different from a dance at another site, like the armory or at the convention center.
"There's a different set of expectations for the school to host a dance," he said. "It's a school activity. It's held to a different standard."
The student council doesn't always help set rules like this, but they agreed to do it after Iverson spoke to them, one student council member said.
"The things going on at dances weren't good," she said.
Although a couple members of the council didn't want to make changes, in the end, they approved the list of new rules.
"The group as a whole saw a need for it," Iverson said, adding that the students came up with some great feedback.
"I was really happy with what they did, because they even took it a step further and addressed the dress code," Iverson said. "I was really proud of them for that."
The whole purpose of the school hosting a dance is to offer a safe, alternate activity for students, he said.
"I tried to think back -- is this a generation thing?" he said. "Is this kind of like when Elvis came out shaking his hips?"
After talking to other principals, Iverson decided it wasn't just a different style of boogie for a different generation.
"Some of the kids were going over the line with the style of their dance -- the grinding and getting to the point of being obscene," Iverson said.
The new rules already went into effect, starting with the winter Snowball dance.
Under the new system, students got two strikes.
When they entered the dance, they received a plastic wrist band. If a chaperone saw them doing something inappropriate, the first warning would be to cut the wristband off.
Then, if that same student was caught doing something inappropriate again, the chaperone would see they had no wristband and would ask them to leave.
A student council member said the initial response to the new rules wasn't very good.
Although attendance is usually low for the Snowball, this year it was lower, Iverson said.
"We had maybe 100 kids at this dance," he said. "And a lot of it I was told was because some of the kids didn't like the new rules and they thought if we didn't have anyone come, we'd take the rules off."
Not so, he said.
"I don't think the rules will change any," he said, adding that he had expected some backlash from upperclassmen.
"I think once the younger grades start coming up, the attendance will come back up too," he said. "Of the kids that were there, 98 percent of them said that it was the best dance they'd been at because they didn't feel pressured to have to act a certain way or dance a certain way, they could just be themselves. That was kind of what I hoped would come out of this."
The student council member had a similar view.
"The dance was still a lot of fun with the new rules, if not more fun than before," she said. "I think people will come around and start going to dances more."
The student council puts on three major dances at LCS: Homecoming, the Snowball and TWIRP (The Woman Is Responsible to Pay).
Any other dances hosted by other clubs or organizations and held on school grounds also are subject to the new rules.
The prom dance is held at the Le Mars Convention Center and is run by parents. That means they can set the dance rules.
"I hope the parents will take our approach with what they allow at the dance, but that's their decision," Iverson said.
Having rules about school dances is not a new thing.
There are already some rules in place for dances at LCS. For example, boys are not allowed to wear shorts or blue jeans -- dress pants and a collared shirt are required. Girls' dress code at dances is also semi-formal. Dresses and pants are allowed, but shorts are not.
And right now, doors are locked and no more entry is allowed after 11 p.m. However, the student council also looked into the possibility of closing the doors earlier like 10:30 p.m. and having more chaperones.
When it comes to the "dirty dancing" issue, LCS isn't alone.
The question of adding rules on the dance floor at school is being asked across the nation -- schools in states as far away as New York and as close as Minnesota are making changes.
The debate still rages as to whether schools should implement rules on styles of dancing or if they're going too far.
But in Le Mars, Iverson stands by the new rules written by the student council.
"I think the changes will be good in the long run," he said.