School Daze #4: An Illustrated High School Dance Survival Guide

Herein is a high school dance survival guide that all teenagers should commit to memory. Parents, I encourage you to print this guidebook out on expensive stock paper and present it to your kids.  They will thank you for it..

Feel free to ask questions and take notes. Even though this is a pretty comprehensive manual, I'm open to any addenda that can be put in a comment.   Let the instruction begin...

The dance is not the place to demonstrate how awkward you are on the dance floor; girls will not find that cute.  This is not Can't By Me Love and you are not Patrick Dempsey.

Girl or boy, keep your effing shoes on.  Once your date catches a noxious whiff, consider your evening over.  I know that even the guys can get uncomfortable in those nice polished shoes - keep them on for the love of God! Or else don't be surprised when your pretty lady suddenly becomes stand-offish for no explicable reason.  Even the highest caste of popularity cannot override severe foot funk.

A dance is not a place want to be seen alone at.... not even for a split second! Your date goes to the "powder room" and you're standing there alone - you better act quick and find someone to talk to, or it'll look like you're a retarded leper with Hepatitis B.

Want a hot girl to dance with? Get on the football team ASAFP.  I don't care if you don't know a Slant Route from a Wheel Route, get on the football team some way some how.  If you're an attractive guy with a dynamite personality, to the hot girls, you're just an attractive guy with a dynamite personality who's not on the football team.

Drink yourself just shy of getting fatal alcohol poisoning.  The dance will confront you with many high-stress situations.  Getting on the dance floor itself can be intimidating.  Asking a girl to dance, seeing your ex with another date, forgetting the corsage, etc. - all can be very anxiety ridden.  However, we need you to be loose, so drink up my friend.  If you have to have your stomach pumped later, it was for a worthy cause.

You need that slow dance moment, or this whole evening was for nothing.  Subsequently, you'll need to listen to the musical cues.  Songs like "Unchained Melody" and Journey's "Open Arms" are slow dance dynamite.  Don't spend your time wasting away at the punch bowl when Steve Perry's got the mike.

However, be prepared for those pesky songs like "Sister Christian" which speed up on you without much warning.  The most notorious of all being "Come Sail Away" (as played out in the pilot episode of Freaks and Geeks).

I don't care if you're Danny Terrio, you do not want to get caught away from the crowd.  There's safety in numbers.  The last thing you want is the spotlight on you and your armpit stains. Trust me, you're not going to walk off center stage looking like Tony Manero.... it'll be more like a drunk Tony Danza.

Always have a wingman (or wing-woman): this may be the most important rule of all.  Your wing-man can prevent you from committing social suicide.  For instance, you may be the victim of a self-made wedgie - your wing-man is there to point it out discretely.   The combination of having all your peers in the same room while you dance and drink excessively is a risky business - best not to go into it solo.

Shut up and dance.

If you're out on the dance floor flapping your gums, that's a clear indicator you are too self-conscious to actually dance.  Quit your jibba jabba and start shakin' that money maker.

Always dance WITH someone.  If there's a boy next to you, make eye contact and dance with him; and vice versa.  This is not the time or place for any solo dancing.... reserve that for your bedroom in front of a mirror. People dancing without a partner look sad and lost; please don't become one of them.

If you are not one of these people, chances are you will be having a wonderful time tonight.  However, if Fate does put you somewhere in the Homecoming Court, it is very likely that a dagger will be in your back before the evening is over.  Homecoming and Prom Royalty are not much different than the royalty of the Middle Ages, full of lies, scheming, and betrayal.


The Dreaded Mismatch occurs when a particularly attractive girl is dancing alone and a Farmer Ted seizes the opportunity (see Sixteen Candles).  If the attractive girl is also a bitch, this crisis is averted rather quickly; however, if she has a soul, she won't reject him straight out.

Unfortunately, this only feeds his already out-of-hand confidence., and there is the possibility of this dragging on indefinitely.

Note: This can occur with the genders reversed, with the girl being the nerd in question.  However, it is exceedingly rare, and therefore not worth worrying about.

Huge size differentials look cute in old photograph albums... not so much when they're actually occurring.

Take it down a notch.  We all have a tendency to get carried away when the music is kickin', your date is hot, and you are just feelin' the love.....  Well, hold on there, partner.  Best to keep your enthusiasm in check.  Make eye contact with your date - if she looks puzzled (or worse, scared), you may want to reign it in a tad.

Worst case scenario: You and your partner are getting carried away with no sign of reeling it in.  Blame it on the spiked punch and the adrenaline; but the results are the same - public humiliation.

What the fuck are these two doing? It looks like some kind of tribal masturbation ritual. Somebody make them take five.

And finally, Getting Your Picture Taken...

Get them taken at the beginning.  Trust me: in a few short minutes, you will be a sweaty disheveled nightmare.


  1. Awesome, thank you for the tips I am going to go hop in my time machine and redo my senior prom now. Thanks bro!

  2. Many of these imply that you actually dance rather than stand around looking awkward.

  3. Remember, a lot of these people are GRANDPARENTS now. They are pillars of our community now.

  4. great post Gilligan! awwww the memories!! clearisil cookies and sea breeze in the punch :)

  5. Man, whatever happened to having a band at a school dance? Now you get whatever's on some overpriced DJ's ipod.