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Timothy Myers: Saugus Morp dance not an actual rave

Posted: August 25, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 25, 2012 2:00 a.m.

I attended high school in the mid-’70s (to keep readers from struggling with the math, I just turned 52). And in that malaise-filled, post-Vietnam War/’60s revolution era, my classmates and I took great pains to engage in soft rebellion against anything identified with the establishment.

This meant staying far away from school dances and other traditional social activities. Even the prom, though well-attended by juniors and seniors, immediately emptied out after the official photos, with couples quickly scampering to commit various crimes and misdemeanors, mainly sucking flat beer from a keg in the middle of a recently plowed corn field until the wee hours of the morning.

So things obviously changed in some 40-odd years with reports that local high schoolers nearly overran a “Morp” dance hosted recently by Saugus High School.

A “Morp” dance (“Prom” spelled backward) basically constitutes a safe(r) rave, complete with outlandish costumes, small carnival rides and loud techno music, but hopefully without Ecstasy and nitrous oxide (laughing gas).

Similar to how Justin Bieber’s act allows female teens to brush the line of sexuality, the Morp provides intrigue without the danger of rave premature death.

Initial reports from the Morp sounded dire. Four sheriff’s deputies tasked with providing security (along with 16 private security guards) called in 10 additional deputies for “reinforcement” due to stopped-up traffic on Bouquet Canyon Road and a long line to enter the Morp, with many turned away (including our youngest son and two friends, Valencia High School students who attended the Morp last year) and an ambulance to deal with an intoxicated young lady.

Official numbers claimed 2,400 attendees, amounting to an entire high school population.

But wait! Some days later the ever-image-conscious Bill Bolde, principal of Saugus High School, related that the Morp did not constitute dire social unrest mooted by the Sheriff’s Station. Difficulties dealing with entry revolved around construction on the school site and concurrent street construction on the roads approaching Saugus High School.

In fact, 600 fewer people attended the Morp than did in 2011. School officials quickly notified the parents of the allegedly intoxicated young girl and the citizenry could stand assured she would get a good talking to about the poor choice she made.

In other words, nothing to see here, move along, the school will keep your children perfectly safe.

The protests of safety reminded me of a time when our now-college-aged daughter attended a regular Saturday youth group at a large (and prominent) church in town. From investigation, it appeared that the official activities ended around 10 p.m. but that participants would “extend” the event until 3 or 4 in the morning, with parents probably believing their children still stood under the halo of church supervision.

Our daughter for a time protested for her ability to stay out until all hours with the assertion that with “church people,” what could possibly go wrong? Well, in the case of unsupervised teenagers, however well intentioned, about anything that comes to mind.

I’ve got news for my fellow suburban parents. While I believe that the Saugus Morp received the most diligent supervision available, a certain number of participants probably did consume alcohol and narcotics before, during and after the actual dance.

Parents and responsible adults cannot keep their eyes on teens seeking danger 24 hours a day, and 30 sheriff’s deputies and security guards cannot properly supervise 2,400 young people.

One’s best hope relates to children’s lessons of prudence taught early in life and in finding themselves in a peer group that values prudent behavior. Don’t for one moment believe that a church or school veneer provides absolute safety.

Nothing can substitute for parental vigilance and teenage wisdom, however scarce.

Ironically, Canyon High Associated Student Body students passed out flyers promoting Canyon’s Morp in the line of students waiting for (and ultimately denied) entrance into the Saugus Morp.

When asked for comment, Canyon ASB Director Mike Motherspaw “hoped” Canyon would enjoy a much more modest turnout — about half the Saugus oversubscription.

We will see.

Tim Myers is a Valencia resident.


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