The year was 1992. I was a very big dork. It was not my fault; I was back in suburban Virginia after spending those three most formative/deformative middle school years in still-really-communist communist China. I went to the mall unsure if I was supposed to shop at Units or Limited Too; if I was supposed to listen to Michael Bolton or the Meat Puppets. I was so maladjusted/shellshocked/etc. etc. that my parents sent me on a retreat in West Virginia with a bunch of other kids of foreign service families, and they were pretty universally cooler than I was too, because it was 1992 and the only U.S. diplomatic mission more divorced from pop culture than southern China was probably, I dunno, western China? Anyhow. I'm telling you all this because The New York Times has a story on the links between social behavior and hip-hop music, specifically the phenomenon we all love to mock for being called "freak dancing" and whether it is some sort of toxic gateway drug to TEEN SEX, and well, on that trip to West Virginia I met this boy who was just back from Cameroon or something and we totally "freaked" — at a dance where they played Shai's "If I Ever Fall In Love" and Tony Toni Tone. Oh, and Mariah! Anyway, there's a point to this.
In that, you know, I still remember it. I remember it more vividly than I do pretty much anything else that happened in high school, where hooking up was inextricably intertwined with social status and cliques and seemingly immobil ecrap like that, because seriously, it was like dry humping, and I hadn't even gotten my period yet. But did it lead to anything else? Not for me, or the girls in the study either:
Even during the highly sexualized form of dance known as grinding, in which bodies rub against each other, the girls in the study "were consistently vigilant about maintaining control over their bodies and space," the study noted.
Anyway as the only person I know with a high school "freak dancing" memory — Tracie was busy at ska shows, the Anonymous Lobbyist lived in a section of the country it had not yet reached, and Jennie was just not that type of girl — I thought I would use this space to defend it. It took four more years to lose my virginity, by which point I think I blamed Liz Phair and whiskey for any and all poor sexual choices I'd make, but when I think back on how I learned what it was supposed to feel like, I have to thank Silk and H-Town. And all the somewhat awkward boys I saw at high school dances before I ditched them to drink Zima with guys who listened to Bad Religion, which by the way was not very romantic and/or sensual music.