Here Are the Songs They Play at a Middle School Dance
[Editor's note: The following post by Houston writer and ESL teacher Shea Serrano was named the best blog post of the year in the first-ever Voice Media Group music writing awards. Originally published by our sister blog, West Coast Sound at L.A. Weekly, it's a hilarious real-time account of an afternoon spent chaperoning a junior high dance. Read more about the VMG music writing awards here.]
By SHEA SERRANO
1:04 pm: In about 25 minutes, I'm going to be chaperoning a middle school dance. The dance is for the school's graduating 8th graders, of which there are several hundred. I've probably chaperoned fifteen of these things already. It's like being a bouncer at a night club, except this party will take place in a cafeteria and nobody told me not to let in Black or Mexican people.
1:08: 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? Once when I was in a club, I got into a bit of a tiff with a gentleman. Shortly thereafter I snuck up behind him on the dance floor and punched him in his ear as hard as I could. I'm almost certain that wouldn't have happened if I'd had a slice of Italian Cream Cake on a Styrofoam plate in my hands. Fuck your nightclub for not serving cake, yo.
1:34: There's a girl in here with a tattoo on the back of her neck. That's neat. It reads, "Mala Fama." Literally, that's Spanish for "Bad Fame," but she's only 15, so basically it means "I Need Better Parents."
1:37: They're playing Usher's "Climax." What the fuck is happening right now?
1:40: Oh snap. Went from Usher straight to 3ball music, which is basically a more modern, trendier, hipper version of Cumbia music. It's been around 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 back 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. (Peruse this site for a bit to see some of its characters.)
1:40:15: 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: "Thriller"? This guy is killing me. Zero continuity. He couldn't have spent any time planning this mix, right? I mean, fuck. One time for Valentine's Day I gave a girl some chocolate milk, a pair of neon shoelaces and a card with a picture on it of a dog smoking a cigar that I'm fairly certain was meant to go to a dad celebrating the birth of his first child. (All available at your local Walgreens, FYI.) In fairness, I was only 14 years old, which meant I wasn't having sex yet*, which meant I wasn't really trying to impress her that much, but still. It was bad. I knew it even then. This is worse than that.
*I started having sex at fifteen. I was 5'5" and weighed about 115 pounds. I'd like to find the girl I lost my virginity to and ask her a million questions. The first: What the fuck were you thinking?
1:52: 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: OH NO...
1:53:15: HE PASSED THE BRIDGE. HE'S GOING TO LET IT PLAY THROUGH. THAT MEANS...
1:54: Yep. We just hit the "hands on your knees, hands on your knees" part. God save us all.
2:01: "Macarena." HE'S PLAYING THE GODDAMN MACARENA. THE TERRORISTS HAVE WON. CLOSE AMERICA.
2:12: Redemption: He's playing "Humahuaqueno Carnavalito" by King Africa, the most bizarre, incidentally brilliant Argentine recording artist of all-time. Click that video above. That's the song that's playing right now. And that dance that he's doing, EVERYONE in here is doing it. It just got live as fuck in here real quick.