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The Seven Stages of a CPS Dance

1.Preparations for the Event

It’s September 19th, the day of the “Time 2 Dance” all-school dance. About mid-afternoon, people realize they should probably choose an outfit. All through the Bay Area, CPS students start up their showers and comb their hair. Some take out their makeup, while others grab the hair gel and mousse. Effort put into dressing for the theme is split about 60/40, with a larger group choosing to do the 2000’

s and above, and a smaller percentage wearing the garb of earlier decades. Outfits range from a tee shirt and jeans to a full ensemble — suspenders, in one case, and decade-appropriate dresses in another. People depart from their homes at a time that will get them to the dance a few minutes after 7:00, not wanting to be the first ones there. There is a beautiful sunset just before the dance begins.

2. Meeting Friends

And so we arrive in the CPS parking lot. Most come in cars, either being dropped off or driving themselves (see, it was worth the DMV!). However, a large group can be seen making their way up from College Avenue, where they have presumably eaten dinner and spent the last hour or so together. The freshmen have been treated to an evening in town with their senior mentors, and they too arrive well fed and ready to dance. People exit their cars awkwardly- some have dressed quite nicely and make an attempt to be graceful, but s

liding out of a car’s slippery leather seat is the great equalizer. With a flush of excitement in their cheeks, groups of friends converge and compliment each other. It’s time to enter the dance.

3. Nervously Shuffling In

Groups make their way up the hill and step into line for entry. Two tables are set up, one for prepaid ticket-holders, and one for those purchasing their tickets (on the night of the dance, ticket prices rise to $7.00). The lines move slowly, but eventually we have all received the swipe of a Sharpie on our hands, meaning we are free to enter the dance. Ah, and there’s the Breathalyzer! The freshmen cast shocked looks at each o

ther when they realize that everyone will be tested for alcohol; clearly, this formality never occurred at their middle schools. However, despite the general level of responsibility that CPS students possess, one can’t be too careful, and so we all blow onto the little device and get our hands marked with another Sharpie, this one indicating we’re sober. Finally, we’re free to enter the room. It’s dark, but the tech crew’s got fancy lights going. There’s a little display of food, but mostly people start dancing as soon as they head inside.

4. Getting Into the Heat of Things

This stage of the dance comes about fifteen to thirty minutes in, as the initial awkwardness of dancing crazily in front of friends fades away. We’ve shed our pride by now. The music is still 2000’s and later at this point, including Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie” and Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty.” Almost everyone is familiar with this music and so we yell out the lyrics while we dance. It’s hardly 8:00, and the room is packed. The blazing body heat fills the crowd; soon we are all feeling the raised temperature and wiping sweat from our brows. Someone discovers the fans at the side of the room and huge bunches of students crowd the little sources of relief from the heat. It’s basically futile with this many people, though the placebo effect of a fan’s presence seems to work slightly. A line forms at the water fountain, and people start heading to the bathrooms to dab their faces and necks with wet paper towels. We’re hot, but enjoying ourselves. Then the opening bars of a slow, romantic song begin to play…

5. Slow Dancing

The Slow Dance is a very minimal part of CPS dances, yet it had to be included in this article. Tonight, two slow songs are played. “Grab someone special!” Clusters of nervous friends move closer

to each other while casting shy glances over at their love interests and whispering. Some bravely shuffle over to them. Others tap their foot and stare at the ground. On the whole, very few couples end up swaying slowly to the song, but many people grab their platonic friends just to have someone to hold for the song’s duration. For those dancing, the slow dance seems too short. The DJs waste no time in switching to a loud, fast tune before the romantic mood has even had a chance to fade. After the slow dance is over, it seems to have been entirely forgotten as people (who were in near-embrace moments before) return to normal. Was it just another song to them ?

6. Exhaustion

Gazing around, one can see the fatigue scrawled across our faces. Only about half the dance’s attendees are inside at this time. The rest have filed outside, half-stumbling with exhaustion. The benches meant to act as a fence are filled with students sprawling over them. Some students look like they’re ready to sleep, resting their heads on others who have a little more energy, just enough to keep their eyes open. The conversations have dulled to a murmur. The bench students are the ones who partied too hard in the first hour and have spent the next 90 minutes slumped across the wooden slats. Other students are still standing, but their weary faces betray their drowsiness. A couple people take off their shoes and sigh at the relief for their sore feet. The line at the water fountain grows with every new group stepping outside. Only the select few students who have spent the entire time talking outside are still refreshed. Eventually, we file back inside and make a final attempt to dance. The dance is almost over.

7. The Last Hurrah

From the throes of our exhausted dancing, we hear a faint noise. What can it be? Is it…the opening bars of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’”? It is! We raise our limp arms and cheer, regaining energy with every note. The classic chords and tune hit us like a wave of Red Bull. It’s a miracle the song can be heard at all over the cheering; it’s the last song of the evening and everyone wants a piece of the action. As we enter the first verse, usually-demure CPS students begin to belt the words. “Just a small-town girl, living in a lonely world”…the singer’s voice is impossible to hear over the joyous cries of students. Everyone mashes together in a huge crowd. The effect of the last song is incredible. I see techies run back up to their booth in order to produce a final fantastic light show. As the song draws to a close, we sing as loudly as our weakened voices can. With the last “Streetlights, people”, the lights flicker back on and the

magic of the CPS dance draws to a close. Most students flood out as soon as the dance is over, but some (well, the StuCo members) stay behind and clean up the refuse of some good old College Prep fun.

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