In a few weeks, Meg McSherry Breslin reports in The Chicago Tribune, a college in the suburbs near Chicago will hold a school dance.
The reason this is newsworthy is that the school in question is Wheaton College, which has forbidden "social dancing" for all of its 143 years. But now the school has announced some changes in its "community covenant," and it is time, finally, to boogie:
After years of student pressure to lift the dancing ban, the college administration introduced new guidelines for campus living in February, shocking students with news that an official on-campus dance would be held for the first time in school history this year.
With the big event just weeks away–the date will be announced during the college's family gathering this weekend–Wheaton students are testing out their moves at area dance halls.
This is big news. Within the confining confines of the evangelical subculture, dancing is still a matter of great controversy. I graduated from Eastern College, an evangelical school long eyed with suspicion for allowing dancing. (As a DJ there I got to know several students from Messiah College who would sneak off campus and drive two hours to come to our dances. And I was a lousy DJ.)Wheaton — the alma mater of Billy Graham and Wes Craven — is a flagship institution in the little world of evangelicaldom. What happens at Wheaton will have a ripple effect, spurring change at places like Messiah and dozens of other such colleges across the country.
"It makes us seem less like a subculture in our own little world," sophomore Julia Stampfl said of the new policy.
Exactly. Which is a Good Thing. And dancing is, itself, a Good Thing, so I encourage Julia and the rest of the folks there at Wheaton to get out on the dance floor and shake that student body.
A wise philosopher (George Clinton) once said, "Free your mind and your ass will follow." Here's hoping that works the other way around as well.