Music pumps loudly and steadily in the background rhythmically creating the mood, neon lights flash in coordinating patterns and Marinda Larson sways her body to the beat taking in every aesthetic dance parties have to offer.
Dance parties create a realm where popular culture meets the ever-growing social craze. It’s no wonder they are so appealing to students craving that connected atmosphere. Dance parties are all the rage at BYU, but students need to be smart or risk dancing on the line of university policies. Dance parties in apartments and even IDPs (iPod dance parties) are popular alternatives.
The off-campus scene
Though BYU does an excellent job of providing students with a place to jive, many students, like Larson, prefer at-home dance parties to on-campus ones because there is no feeling of restriction. University policy requires music that is played through speakers on-campus to be pre-approved. Unfortunately, most students do not know the proper protocol to get a song approved, so instead they turn to creative alternatives.
From Provo to Salt Lake City, there are dance parties held in a variety of venues. From clubs to parking garages to closed-off streets, one is sure to find a dance party by looking and listening carefully.
“The combination of the bass and strobe light and everything good about music makes dancing so exciting,” Larson said. “It’s a great way to let loose and get all your energy out. I wish campus dances were more danceable,” Larson said. “Don’t get me wrong, they’re great, but I think they could do a better job with staying on top of the newest music. Off-campus dances do a better job of appealing to the crowds. I do enjoy on-campus dances because they’re not inappropriate, but sometimes (they’re) not as fun and up-beat as they can be.”
Kenny Adams, from Spokane, Wash., a frequent dance party enthusiast, seconded Larson in her preference of off-campus dances.
“For me, dance parties are way to escape the difficulties of everyday life,” Adams said. “When I go, I need that release. I love the energy and I just want to have fun. There shouldn’t be a lot of rules to restrict a good party.”
Even Justin Reid, a local BYU-approved DJ, prefers the off-campus scene.
“The restrictions don’t come as a surprise to me,” Reid said. “In my training to become a BYU-approved DJ, they taught us how to keep things clean and the standards high and (about) crowd control. That being said, I don’t even know the specifics of what qualifies as BYU-approved media. I know it’s a set of guidelines because BYU is an extension of the Church.”
Reid’s favorite part being a DJ is making sure people have a good time.
“At the end of the night, if I’ve created a social experience people will remember, I’ve done my job,” Reid said. “A different side of people always comes out when they’re moved by music. I want to provide a way for people to let loose with no reservations. People can still hold their standards without pressure and have a good time. At a dance party, you can put a mask on and all inhibitions go away.”
Not everyone is so quick to be light in the loafers
Brian Devine, a senior studying social science teaching, said he receives many dance party invites a day. Instead of feeling elated at the prospect of so many opportunities to partake in a social ritual others crave, he feels the dance party scene has become too impersonal.
“I have to exert a real effort to have fun at a dance party,” Devine said. “Because of the way our culture is, I feel like you have to force yourself to have fun and to be completely unaware of how you look and feel. I’m sure they’re fun for some, but they’re not for me. I’d rather have fun in a variety of ways than this wave that is becoming more and more popular.”
Due to his attitude, Devine couldn’t care less about on-campus restrictions or creative ways around them. However, those are concerns RAs don’t have to face to fulfill some of their job responsibilities. FanFan Charles was an RA and dealt more with the dance-cravers than the cynics. Freshmen are away from home, loaded with energy and into the newest trends. This makes them perfect candidates to host wild parties.
“I had to break up a lot of parties,” Charles said. “Some didn’t like it, but I had to do what I had to do. If it wasn’t approved or was too loud, they couldn’t be jamming out in the parking lot or somewhere in the open.”
iDP, do you?
iDPs are a creative alternative to getting around dance party restrictions.
Here’s how an iDP works: a select group of people make a playlist and share it. At a predetermined time and place, they all get together, iPods in tow, and earbuds in, and dance — any way they like. With their headphones in, insecurities aren’t an issue because they can just be themselves and they don’t have any restrictions to worry about either.
Roy Copans, of Vienna, Va., and his friends bust out the moves at iDPs.
“The most special thing about them is that we have the freedom to do whatever we want,” Copans said. “You can do your own thing, but you don’t have to be embarrassed about it.”
IDPs work best in a small, select group of friends. Copans said not meeting new people is a drawback, but a drawback he believes is worth the novelty of rocking out in a parking garage.
“They’re a good alternative to traditional dance parties,” Copans said. “They really let you branch out and have a good time.”
Larson, Adams, Reid and Copans all love to dance, and have found creative ways around the restrictions that come from attending a university owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.