Dance-less Middle School Dances

The middle school dances have been a part of Westridge since its founding in 1913. Pasadena Independent School Directors, the organizers of the middle school dances, believed that dances would allow students to socialize with their peers. However, middle schoolers’ opinions reveal that middle school dances don’t always fulfill the purpose for which they were created.

Some students believe the dances are a great opportunity to meet new people and to socialize. As Holly N. ’25 said, “School dances allow me to not only see my old friends and friends from Westridge, but it also forces me to make new friends, which makes the overall experience rich and fun.” 

When Reed D. ’25 was asked about her first school dance, she explained, “I was very impressed with the way the dance looked and all the decorations around the gym. I was exhilarated to see my friends from my old school, and I enjoyed the food. I saw all the people filled in the gym and outside the gym, and already knew that I was going to have a great time.” 

Not only do students believe that school dances are an opportunity to socialize, but some teachers also feel the same way. Ms. Heydorff, Dean of Lower and Middle School Student Activities, attended many of her middle school dances and made numerous memories. “I went to Chandler for middle school, and whenever I went to a dance, I had a chance to meet my cousin and his friends. It was fun to meet everyone, and it was just overall a great experience.” 

However, for some students, the dances aren’t the best place to meet up with friends. Lindsay B. ’25 remarked, “Dances are fun, and I get to see my friends from school, but the idea of going to these dances seems completely unnecessary because I already see my friends almost every day and I can communicate with them in a way that does not involve me spending time in a stuffy and warm gym.” 

“We are all supposed to socialize with other people from other schools, but we just end up being with our own friend groups,” explained Sylvie J. ’24. 

Stephanie C. ’25 said, “I don’t like the dances because there is nothing for me to do there. I do not dance and already see my friends, which makes the dances not fun and completely a waste of time when I could be doing many other things.”

According to Ms. Heydorff, one of the most common complaints is that the dances are boring and dull. “During my middle school dances, a lot of people would dance. But now, most people do not,” Heydorff observed.  

Some students question how dances align with Westridge’s initiative to be more environmentally conscious. “Dances do not have options for vegetarians and vegans, and use plastic water bottles and utensils,” stated Rachel G. ’25, a student who strongly believes in climate change and wants to improve the world around her.

Some of the safety requirements also annoy students. “It is like a jail. Every time I go to a dance, there are always unnecessary restrictions. For example, I was walking around and a teacher at the school started screaming at me because I had walked a few steps away from the dancing area. Another time, my mom was picking me up thirty minutes early, and they wouldn’t let me leave. All of their rules are ridiculous,” stated Cindy C. ’25 and Lillian Y. ’25.

It is a policy for students to remain on campus for the duration of the dance. If students attend a dance, they must be fully committed to staying the entire time. According to Ms. Heydorff, the dances are sometimes strict and have boundaries because there have been problems in the past. For example, students from schools that are not part of the consortium try to attend the dances by lying about which school they are from to get into the dances.

Attendance at middle school dances has fluctuated throughout the years, most likely because of scheduling. “If the dance is on a three-day weekend, students have more time, and will go to the dance,” said Ms. Heydorff.