For about 350 students at two private Catholic high schools in Santa Rosa, boarding a boat for their prom dance on Saturday night was supposed to embark them on the most magical night of their young lives.
But that was before things got freaky out in San Francisco Bay.
Not long after lights dimmed on the dance floor, Ursuline and Cardinal Newman High School administrators who were aboard the boat ordered the music turned off, ostensibly to prevent students from freak dancing.
That left students, many who spent hundreds of dollars on such things as tickets, dresses, photos and nail appointments, adrift in the bay for nearly three hours, fuming over the decision.
That anger was still percolating on Monday.
?This is something we were supposed to remember and talk about forever. Now, we?re just going to have horrible memories,? said 18-year-old Jon Steele, a Cardinal Newman student who estimated that he and his date spent a combined $1,300 on the evening.
Flyers accusing administrators of ruining the dance appeared on the Cardinal Newman campus on Monday, while senior girls at Ursuline were said to be planning a protest today by wearing their prom dresses to school.
?It?s going to suck because it?s raining, but I think it?s a good idea because it?s a way to prove a statement,? said senior Brittany Swelam, Ursuline?s student body president. She said she spent the entire day Saturday getting ready for the dance.
Students say they were aware administrators at all-male Cardinal Newman and all-female Ursuline frown on freak dancing, which involves sexually suggestive moves and often is tied to hip-hop and rap. But they argue that the rules should have been more relaxed for prom, since it was held off-campus and attended mainly by upper-classmen.
But when the disc jockey on Saturday night began playing rock and disco songs, students yelled out for him to play something else, and then began freaking in ?rebellion,? according to Swelam.
She described some girls bent over at the waist and boys yelling out profanity.
Cardinal Newman Assistant Principal Stewart Clark took the microphone to warn students the dance would be shut down if students didn?t stop. When that didn?t happen, he and Ursuline Principal Julie Carver made the decision to pull the plug.
On Monday, Carver confirmed that she told the DJ to avoid hip-hop and rap songs because of concerns about freak dancing. But she said she was disappointed that he announced that to students at the dance, saying it ?incited? them.
Several students said they would have forgone their prom had they know those styles of music would be banned. But Carver said the two schools have a long-standing policy on limiting such music to try and prevent freak dancing.
She said the DJ played a hip-hop song after students complained about the music and that they continued to freak dance, despite the warning.
Carver said the schools? zero-tolerance policy on freak dancing has been discussed in the student newspaper and in e-mails she sent to Ursuline parents. She said Bishop Daniel Walsh of the Santa Rosa Diocese, and Ursuline sisters, have expressed their disfavor of freak dancing at the schools.
Many students chose to boycott the school?s Turnabout dance in February as a result of the crackdown.