Music is powerful. No other kind of media has such a strong effect. We don’t really have a culture where we memorize poetry or entire books or movies (well, maybe entire movies, come to think of it), but music is meant to be remembered. You probably hear people complain all the time about having a tune stuck in their head. There’s a “catchiness” to music, be they hymns or pop songs, and that’s part of music’s power.
One of the songs for young children in the Mormon Church (officially The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) is “Hum Your Favorite Hymn,” and the lyrics talk about how when nasty thoughts enter our minds, we can dismiss them by singing good songs. The opposite can also be true—a song that talks about immorality or violence can bring dark thoughts to mind when it’s hummed.
A lot of pop songs are about immorality (and a lot are rather dumb, but that’s going to be the case with any media). You need to listen to and be aware of lyrics as well as of the tune. Is this telling me that one-night stands and drugs and gun violence are perfectly okay? Does this make me uncomfortable? Do I feel dark or unhappy when I listen to it? Would I be uncomfortable if my mom read the lyrics? It’s a Mormon basic belief to seek out that which is good. Don’t waste your time with that which isn’t. Reading the Book of Mormon can help you to recognize good influences from bad.
Because music can stay with us so long, we really do need to be careful about what we listen to (and what we listen to over and over again, at that). The benchmark Christians often use for everything can apply here: What Would Jesus Do? Would you listen to certain songs if the Savior was in the room? Mormons believe that the Spirit of God can dwell with us always, if we are living worthily. If we feel that He leaves us when we listen to certain kinds of music, we need to remember that and avoid those songs later.
What about dancing? Is it evil? Of course not. But, like everything, it needs to be done appropriately. Dancing can involve a whole lot of physical contact and, well, a whole lot of physical contact should be avoided. Dancing can be very fun and can be a good way to interact with the opposite gender, but keeping that interaction friendly is important. Don’t mimic sexual positions. Don’t rub against your partner. This isn’t necessary. This doesn’t make the dance fun, but it can make both you and your partner feel pretty strange and uncomfortable about the contact. If you’re not careful, it can lead to more well before you’re ready. Our bodies are sensitive and the emotions associated with sexual stimulus can be pretty powerful.
The Mormon religion’s stance is that sex is sacred and should never be participated in before marriage. Keep your dances safe. Additionally, don’t go to dances where people dress immodestly; it brings the wrong kind of spirit into a room. Look for dances that are reasonably well lit instead of murky. Try and get a sense for the spirit which is being invited by the group. If it is a bad spirit, then you should not enter and participate in the activity.