Now, who's the brother with the brand new kicks?
Kiss chasing all the chicks, pocket full of Swizzle Sticks
Bazooka Bubblegum, Space Dust and Wham!
Technicolour bed fluff meant I wasn't the man
For kiss chase, now that was real life trauma
Girls would break down and cry if I caught them in the corner
- Ty, "Hercules", from the album Awkward
In early March 1999, a headteacher at a Luton primary school made the headlines when she banned the playground game 'kiss chase'. The primary reason, she said, was her concern about the spread of meningitis through the children's 'exchange of bodily fluids'. But she also raised concerns about the 'inappropriate behaviour' of kiss-chasing kids.
- Jennie Bristow, Unsafe Sex
A common playground variation of 'normal' chasing or Tag, kiss chasing is self-explanatory. One person is 'It' and has to catch someone else and kiss them, after which they become 'It'. Usually the kiss would be a peck on the cheek (players of kiss chasing are rarely older than 7 or 8 years old), but occasionally dark rumours would circulate about more advanced variations on the game, involving hugs, or tongues.
Kiss chasing was banned from my school when we were 6 years old because one of the girls who nobody wanted to kiss told one of the teachers about it. Until then, it had been a delightful series of lunchbreaks full of screaming girls in identical yellow smocks, scattering like pigeons when you ran at them. Some boys and girls never got tagged by a kiss, despite their best efforts (one boy, a little awkward, unpopular and strange-looking, just stood totally still, and whatever girl who was 'It' would run after the others, pretending he wasn't there). There was the occasional deviant who chased his (or her) own sex, and even though no one knew exactly why this made them uncomfortable, it was discouraged in the most subtle of ways (a friendly punch in the stomach, or yank of the hair).
It seemed that after kiss chasing was outlawed, presumably because of the naughtily exciting aspects of it, the playground became polarized, and not in a good way. The girls and the boys didn't interact with each other much any more - the girls huddled near the high hedge and giggled and pointed, and the boys started half-hearted fights and threw their lunch at each other, and (occasionally) at the girls (not very often though - they always told the teachers). Somehow, the act of banning kiss chasing made us aware that there had been something wrong about it - that excitement wasn't there to be enjoyed, it was taboo, and we had to reduce it to whispers and resentment or we would get into trouble. This is a small example of how censure strengthens that which it pretends to prevent.