Here Are the Songs They Play at a Middle School Dance
Editor's Note: Last month, our parent company, Voice Media Group, awarded its first Voice Media Group Music Writing Awards for best blog post and print story of the year. LA Weekly/Houston Press writer Shea Serrano won the blog category with his side-splitting, minute-by-minute account of a school dance that he chaperoned. Here is an edited version of the June 7, 2012, article, which can be found in its entirety on our music blog, Heard Mentality.
1:04 p.m.: In about 25 minutes, I'm going to be chaperoning a middle-school dance. The dance is for the graduating eighth graders, of which there are several hundred. I've probably chaperoned 15 of these things already. It's like being a bouncer at a night club, except the party takes place in a cafeteria and nobody told me to not let in black or Mexican people.
1:08 p.m.: Oh, shit. They're serving free cake at this dance. That's actually kind of great; there'd probably be less hostility at proper night clubs if they gave away cake, right?
1:34 p.m.: There's a girl in here with a tattoo on the back of her neck. That's neat. It reads, "Mala Fama"—literally, it's Spanish for "Bad Fame," but she's only 15, so it means "I Need Better Parents."
1:37 p.m.: They're playing Usher's "Climax." What the fuck is happening right now?
1:40 p.m.: Oh, snap. Went from Usher straight to 3ball music, which is basically a more modern, trendier, hipper version of cumbia. It's been in Mexico for a decade or so and is fairly recently beginning to gather itself into a "thing" in America. Mexican kids, particularly those with visible ties to Mexico, love it. With good reason, too: It's an energetic dance music rooted in Latino culture that has, almost incidentally, spawned the rise of the Hispanic Hipster.
1:40:15 p.m.: P.S. There was no transition from Usher to the 3ball mix. "Climax" stopped, there were a few seconds of silence, and then the new music came on. The DJ has zero idea what he's doing. Poor guy. He's just over there clicking buttons.
1:45 p.m.: "Thriller"? This guy is killing me. Zero continuity. He couldn't have spent any time planning this mix, right? I mean, fuck.
1:52 p.m.: Ah, yes. He's playing "Cha-Cha Slide." See, now this is a good song to play at a middle-school dance. It's timeless, and everyone gets to participate, and there's a template in place so nothing gets too crazy and they can all—WAIT.
1:53 p.m.: OH, NO. . . .
1:53:15 p.m.: HE PASSED THE BRIDGE. HE'S GOING TO LET IT PLAY THROUGH. THAT MEANS . . .
1:54 p.m.: Yep. We just hit the "hands on your knees, hands on your knees" part. God save us all.
2:01 p.m.: "Macarena." HE'S PLAYING THE GODDAMN MACARENA. THE TERRORISTS HAVE WON. CLOSE AMERICA.
2:24 p.m.: And there's LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem." The DJ accidented his way into a mostly appropriate, relevant song. Things are looking up.
2:30 p.m.: Those in the cafeteria have sectioned themselves into groups, with (what I'd guess were) the popular kids participating in one dance circle, (what I'd guess were) the middle-tier kids in another and (what I'd guess were) the lower-level scamps standing around the edge of the room eating pickles and looking for an even better place to eat a pickle.
2:38 p.m.: Ha. For a moment, I thought the DJ, the afternoon's unlikeable antagonist, had managed to actually blend together a few Selena songs. Alas, he's just been playing a premade medley available as a single track (it's actually called "Cumbia Medley"). Cheater.
2:53 p.m.: Ha, ha, ha. The music stopped because Jose R.'s mom is here to pick him up. He looks pissed. Poor kid.
3:01 p.m.: "Y.M.C.A." I think this guy's having a hard time figuring out if these kids are 14 or 45.
3:10 p.m.: Oh, snap. Skrillex's music has officially made an appearance. HAS ANY DJ EVER BEEN THIS BAD AT BEING ECLECTIC? OR, PERHAPS, IS HE THE PIONEER OF A WHOLE NEW DJ MOVEMENT? IS HE A GENIUS? A DULLARD? IN TUNE WITH THE UNIVERSE? BARELY ALIVE? IT ALL SEEMS IN PLAY.
3:12 p.m.: Man, getting close to the last song. Three minutes left. All I care about in this world is what that last track will be. It could be anything, really. I wouldn't be surprised if it was just a few minutes of whale noises or pots being dropped on the floor.
3:16 p.m.: The DJ announces, "All right, everyone. This is the last dance. Make it count." I'm staring dead at him right now. He's fucking pumped about this; I can see it in his face. Silence.
3:16:04 p.m.: Here it comes.
3:16:07 p.m.: OH, MY GOD. I'M SO NERVOUS. THIS CAN GO 5,000 DIFFERENT WAYS.
3:16:09 p.m.: AND . . .
3:16:10 p.m.: IT'S . . . Dude. Seriously? Donna Summers' "Last Dance"? That's how this story ends? Like, for real? GODDAMN IT. So disappointing. He was excited, too. He put that on like, "I'm about to blow the fucking roof off this cafeteria with this one! You bitches are gonna be eating outside from now on!" Jesus. I'm going home.
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