February 9, 2007 9:26 PM   Subscribe

At what grade should school dances begin?

My son had his first school dance. He is in grade one. His school consists of grades K-5. Grades 1-5 and families were invited. It is a 'Catholic' school in a city of 60 000 people.
This grade seems to be young to me but as I have never been to a school dance I am not sure.
posted by Kilovolt to Human Relations (25 answers total)
You'll have to codify your definition of a "dance." They run the gamut from basically a Sunday dinner with music to all-out humpfests, depending on the crowd...which, in my opinion, rules out the idea of a grade at which school dances should begin. Logically, there is no such concrete thing as a school dance.
posted by Phyltre at 9:31 PM on February 9, 2007

My middle school had them. That was sixth grade. Catholics schools I guess are a little different. I imagine it's probably more of an meet-and-greet for parents than a dance.

I know when school dances should end: College. Stupid Southern Oregon Unversity!
posted by parmanparman at 9:32 PM on February 9, 2007

I didn't have school dances until 6th grade, and by school dances, I mean a darkened gym with slow dancing.
posted by perpetualstroll at 9:37 PM on February 9, 2007

Same as perpetualstroll - sixth grade. At the end of the year, the sixth graders were allowed to go to their first dance ever, part of a 'farewell' thing to the eight graders moving up to high school. Darkend gym, dj, slow dancing, etc... but it was in the middle of the afternoon.
posted by librarianamy at 9:42 PM on February 9, 2007

My Catholic school had a 7th and 8th grade dance. Ahh, the awkwardness!! 1st grade seems way young, but if it was a school/family gathering billed as a "dance" that might be an entirely different deal. The one sure thing about Catholic schools is that they are always looking for ways to raise $$$, and I suspect this was one such event.
posted by brain cloud at 9:43 PM on February 9, 2007

7th grade. Darkened gym.
posted by xammerboy at 9:46 PM on February 9, 2007

7th grade; darkened gym; some people went with dates.

But in elementary school (in the early '80s) we had "sock hops" and other things like that, where they would have ice cream, and play upbeat '50s music in the gym and the kids would dance, usually in big groups or with their parents. No question of anybody coming with a "date". It was just a party for the whole school.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:52 PM on February 9, 2007

Our Catholic school didn't start dances until Year 9, so this was slightly eyebrow raising.
posted by liquorice at 9:53 PM on February 9, 2007

What a brilliant way for kids to socialise in a non-competitive way. Why not have school dances from year 1? By the time the kids are looking at each other, in that way, they'll be used to the event, and for the socially inept, they will be more comfortable than if this was a first-off.

School dances? Whenever people want to dance.
posted by b33j at 9:59 PM on February 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

7th grade here, too. Same gym setup, but don't forget about the guys on one side and gals on the other side.
posted by jmd82 at 10:31 PM on February 9, 2007

I attended Jewish elementary school, and we had our first co-ed dance at Grade 3 (this would've been 1993). But it wasn't sanctioned by the school, rather it was at one kid's house and he had invited the entire grade. We had one every year after that, I think.

Needless to say, the 90's dance music still gives me nostalgia. ("Everybody dance now ...")
posted by DrSkrud at 11:08 PM on February 9, 2007

6th grade, public school, people had dates, darkened gym, massive humpfest

I fucking hated school dances. Still do.
posted by sperose at 11:14 PM on February 9, 2007

We had them in grade 5, but it was actually during school hours and in the classroom. (A darkened classroom, yeah, but still a classroom.) We got to pick the songs and dance with the opposite sex and stuff, but the teacher was in the room and it was only an hour or two. In hindsight, it was the lamest thing ever.

I'm thinking that if whole families across multiple grades were invited, it was pretty much a big party with music and space to dance. It's probably one of those things the school does to make the little kids feel more grown-up (also see: junior plays, junior track and field days, etc.).
posted by chrominance at 11:17 PM on February 9, 2007

My catholic primary school had discos, but I can't remember when you were allowed to begin attending them, i think maybe Year 2? They mostly consisted of a DJ and dark hall, it didn't really turn into a humpfest until you were in Year 6, but even then it was pretty tame. In high school, they had 'dances' in Year 8 and 9 between the local single sex catholic schools.
posted by cholly at 11:49 PM on February 9, 2007

I went to a Catholic school, and I had school dances every year from Grade 1 up.
posted by Jairus at 12:17 AM on February 10, 2007

I went to Catholic schools from 4-12 grade, dont' remember any dances until High School, but my 4-8 grade school was tiny (20-24 people per year). I think having them in early grade school would be fine if they spend some time teaching kids how to dance (all different forms).

When I was in grade school my parents took me to "cotillion" classes -- basically taught us how to dance (ballroom mostly/a little swing/electric slide/line/etc.) plus proper etiquette at a ball/dance (offer your date punch first, etc.).

All that seemed kind of dorky at the time, but now that I'm older I'm glad I took those classes (even though I've never been to a ball). If the school taught some of those things and then had a dance, I think it'd be pretty cool.
posted by chndrcks at 5:28 AM on February 10, 2007

I moved halfway through elementary school, so I experienced dances at two different schools. The first school I was at had the typical darkened-gym dances starting at 6th grade, but also had sock hops that you could come to in poodle skirts and white t-shirts. The parents came too. It was a good idea because the parents got to know the teachers, administrators, other parents, and PTA members in an informal environment. It was called a "dance" but it was more of an all-school social.

The second school just had the darkened-gym variety, also starting at 6th grade.
posted by christinetheslp at 5:51 AM on February 10, 2007

I went to dances in third & fourth grade, at a public elementary school (around 1980). Dark-ish gym, no parents. I remember slow-dancing to "Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady". The younger kids (up through 4th grade) had an hour or two-long dance in late afternoon, then left and the 5th & 6th graders came for their dance.

The youth activities center on the military base also had monthly dances for kids ages 10+, I think. i don't remember anyone dancing at those, though - mostly we just bought nachos at the snack bar & played video games or pool.
posted by belladonna at 7:43 AM on February 10, 2007

6th grade - it was a big deal.
posted by k8t at 8:17 AM on February 10, 2007

5th grade. At my mother's insistence.
posted by matkline at 11:09 AM on February 10, 2007

Like LobsterMitten, we had "sock hops." Was this an early-80s thing, or did we go to the same elementary school?

I do seem to recall that it was either only grades 5-6 or maybe just sixth grade. They also let some kids bring in some current music. (I brought Purple Rain. Unsurprisingly, they declined to play it.)
posted by desuetude at 12:16 PM on February 10, 2007

I remember my elementary school having "Valentine's dances," but it was definitely a family-oriented thing. They'd decorate the gym and have a DJ and we'd all dance (in large groups, stuff like the Bunny Hop and "YMCA"* with parental supervision; I don't think anyone slow-danced or any of that stuff). There would also be a cake raffle thing, where moms made/bought cakes and then they'd call your ticket number, and probably some other kinds of games.

*Which is, in retrospect, funny.
posted by SoftRain at 6:06 PM on February 10, 2007

Oh please no, never. (Eh... I'm probably still too close to those experiences to look cooly upon them)

5th grade is when the horror begins.
posted by tmcw at 6:07 PM on February 10, 2007

The "mixers" with the local boys' schools started in 6th or 7th grade.

posted by wildeepdotorg at 6:11 PM on February 10, 2007

The earlier kids start interacting in awkward situations, the sooner they'll get over the awkwardness. And by "earlier", I mean in age, not some non-specific earlierness.

When you throw a bunch of 6th graders into a "dance", there are expectations, and it feels awkward; throw a bunch of 4-year-olds into a "dance" and it's silly fun with no expectations. I'd rather my kids be exposed to this kind of stuff when it's early enough for the event to set their expectations of what events should be, rather than what they've heard and seen on television and what their hormones are starting to drive them towards.

Witness the number of people in this thread mentioning the dances starting in 6th grade or so, followed by expressions of how much they hated it. If those same sixth grades started attending "dances" in 1st grade (when it was *certainly* not a humpfest, but just an excuse to listen to music and play with their friends) by 6th grade they wouldn't even give it a second thought.
posted by davejay at 10:11 AM on January 23, 2008

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