A Glimpse of the Future, And—Yikes—It’s Bad!

“I think it’s kind of ridiculous,” Robert F. Byrne, 15, of Fayetteville-Manlius High School outside of Syracuse, N.Y., was recently quoted as saying in The New York Times. “Our administration is refusing to change with the times.”

The “times” young Master Byrne was referring to concerned his school’s decision to cancel a dance because the kids (?)—youths (?), children (?), pupils (?), students (?)—had embraced a style of licentious dancing indistinguishable from fucking with your clothes on.

James Chupaila, the principal of young Master Byrne’s school, designates the dance as “pornographic.” That may tell you what he thinks about it, but it doesn’t convey what his students are doing. For that, let us go to the Urban Dictionary, which explains what “grind dancing” (as the principal’s terpsichorean pornography is sometimes called) involves. With apologies for the spelling and the syntax, the definitions, accompanied by examples of correct idiomatic usage, do make clear what’s going on (some punctuation supplied):

“When a female and/or male places there hindquarters in the general area of a male’s Scrotem and then shakes Vigorously. Many youths grind dance with each others boyfriends, and in return the person they grind danced withs girlfriend comes and they beat that bitch down.”

Or: “Also Known As Dirty Dancing. When a girl is rubbing her ass all over a guys dick until it comes to the point where he gets a woody—i was grinding with this girl with the biggest booty.”

This kind of recreation is also called “dancerbating,” which the Urban Dictionary says is “also known as dry-humping. When people get really freaky on the dance floor with wandering hands and grinding hips, much to the disgust of those around them.—Look at that girl getting all freaky with that guy! She looks like she’s dancerbating!”

A variant is the “booty dance,” which is unmistakably described by the dictionary thusly: “1. To dance in a sexually explicit way often termed ghetto making your ass cheeks clap while shaking ones hips. 2. Shaking hips side to side to the beat of the music, the faster your ass shakes the better your booty dance. 3. To thrust hips in a circle stopping at intervals in a robotic motion before returning into a liquid motion of grinding then back into a booty shake.

“To shake your hips and ass cheeks to the beat of the music the faster the better making your flesh jiggle when you hit it, to grind down and back dat ass up as though you had a playay [not yet defined] under you bout to get some ass.”

It follows that people go to grind fests, defined as “Having a party where everyone is grinding. Guys on guys, girls on girls, guys on girls, doesn’t matter. Everyone is fucking grinding til the break of fucking dawn.”

Thus do the wee ones from seventh and eighth grade on entertain themselves when not prevented by school administrators, though their prohibitions are not for long, as Steven L. Smith of Rochester, N.Y., explains when he writes into the Urban Dictionary to announce: “My high school banned nuts to butts dancing, but we can do it in college.” And we’re sure you can, Mr. Smith.

Add alcohol and drugs to the mix of sex and sensuality. The newest surveys tell us illegal drug taking by the young is down but by no means out. As for booze, 40 percent of ninth graders, girls and boys both, drink; 20 percent are binge drinkers. Teacher chaperones at teenage parties have begun to use some kind of electronic wand that they can wave over the heads of the grind-dancers to reveal who has been drinking. The gadget itself is less important than its having been invented and rushed into use. For those who have never been under the influence of alcohol, those who have will tell those who have not that in America, at least, consuming alcohol enhances the urge to grind, booty-dance or whatever, on and off the dance floor.

Whether or not all this fun-making is indicative of a society going to hell in a hand basket is a matter of opinion. But it isn’t only conservative religionists who are alarmed. While they talk about family values (or the lack thereof) among the fornicating, blowjobbing youth of America, the nonreligious seem to be saying the same things with a different vocabulary. In place of family values, they talk about the dysfunctional family. Either way, many older people have a fearful sense that the warp and woof of the underlying fabric of society is frayed and weakening.

People, chiefly older people, have a premonitory sense of being taken away to an unknown conclusion by a downward spiral of change. Is there a vortex of national doom in operation, or are these apprehensions merely a repeat of the old decrying of the generation that is soon to displace them?

Generations are not internally homogenous in their opinions or their actions. Not everybody in the age group is lost in the dancerbating masses. There is a certain stratum of American young people who not only do not dancerbate, but also do not do IT. Or else they do IT less often than their parents did IT at the same age. They have postponed active sex lives even as many of them work their butts off in high school and college. They are ambitious and achieving, but are there enough of them? Evidently not. They are a minority, and maybe a minority too small to occupy all the jobs necessary for the nation to carry on.

Then what of the majority? They are the iPod generation, young people who have not spent 60 consecutive nonsleeping minutes without music or other forms of entertainment. They are a generation of roughly middle-class people who apparently have few of the attributes once used to define members of the middle class. Large numbers have the neatness and cleanliness and the expectations for themselves of the middle class, but not the sobriety, the competence and the self-restraint that had been defining middle-class characteristics.

And these iPodal youths differ in other ways from the middle-class youths of the past besides hungering for Sony PlayStation 3’s and Nintendo Wiis. They have more leisure, but—more importantly in shaping character and behavior—these dancerbating, maniacal music listeners have access to the vices once available only to the debauched members of the upper classes and what Karl Marx dubbed the lumpenproletariat—that is, the lumps creeping about the gray blackness of a society’s criminal depths.

A little dancerbation will hardly ruin a person. Sexaholics have been known to be successful and productive people. Nor will a little cocaine sniffing or a certain amount of binge drinking foreclose a useful existence; it’s when such practices become, if not a way of life, then part of a way of life, one founded on the conviction that the fulfillment of desire ought to come first and then we can talk about work. We all know and recognize the type—the ignorant, incompetent, feckless, celebrity-struck boobies who, when released into the labor force, turn into human amyloidal gunk, clogging, impeding and holding back every business, every institution and every social process.

Happily, many a person in the age-15-to-40 group doesn’t fit that description—but enough already do, and their numbers are growing. By all reports, a new American has come into existence: call him Pleasure Man or Consumer Man or Dawdler Man or Cool Man or Grinder Man, he is a human to whom all is owed and who owes nothing in return.

Somewhere along the line of the passing years, the New American may become preponderant, so numerous, that the essential functions of this advanced 21st-century society will lose forward motion and begin to float backwards. Then we’ll all be out with our buckets, looking for a gasoline pipeline to tap to run our broken-down cars, as they must do in Nigeria.