Prom, prom, where art thou formality?
Originating from the word promenade, meaning a march of guests at the beginning of a ball or other formal event, prom has strayed from its original purpose.
Proms were initiated over 100 years ago by the Northeastern bourgeois, who wished for their children the same etiquette education as elites in debutantes. These balls were chaperoned and held for mainly college students in their senior year.
In the 21st century, prom is given the same context as a dress-up party for upper-class youth. However, upon prom's arrival to high schools at the beginning of the 20th century, couples would arrive to the event in their church clothes (this meant no expense spared on a new dress or tuxedo for that matter), converse and drink tea with other couples and of course dance. Not until the '30s did the social event become more of a party with the accessibility of motor vehicles to youth. With this new independence, prom began to drop below the standards concerning its formality.
Between the '50s and '80s, social status began to dominate prom. It was now essential to arrive with "le plus beau" date of opposite sex. Girls became preoccupied in the search for the perfect dress, and the seniors and juniors attending the dance now had a classier location to boogie than the school gymnasium. Student presidents were required to come up with a prom theme. Prom queens were a new attribute to the stellar night as well.
"Well first I like to go get my nails done. Then I do my makeup and I like to curl my hair, which takes awhile. After, of course, you need to put some perfume on to smell good," said Lissa Smith ('16), who like many, already had a dress picked out at the beginning of April.
If anyone is to blame for the obscene dancing or rise of social hierarchy importance, it's Hollywood, which happens to be the criminal suspect for most teen illegalities. Modern movies and TV shows such as Glee, Never Been Kissed, Mean Girls and even Disney's High School Musical 3 stress the importance of prom in some fashion. Something inevitably goes wrong whether it's the awkwardly chosen prom queen and irresolute relationships in "Glee" or the no-show date in High School Musical 3."It is a tradition for the junior class to prepare the prom," said Madame Emma Greenwell, referring to the school she formerly taught at. "It is a BIG deal: they start raising money in 9th grade and everything (the theme, the location) is kept secret. We spent about $6,000 for the prom. I believe that spending so much money for one single night is completely silly. Seeing the kids all dressed up is fun however. Everyone looks happy, parents (so many pictures) and students."
Outlandish, pricey, contentious, gleeful and lascivious are all different adjectives relating to the activities and over all representation of the modern prom. "Bad corsages, really big hair on my dates, and awful pictures," is what history teacher Christopher Greenwell remembers thinking about the occasion.
That being said, prom should not be looked down upon despite its imperfections. Just ask the girls for instance. While it can be argued that the overall prom has lost its formality between grinding and the unceasingly shorter dresses (naked ankles in the early 1900s to above the knee in the 2000s), there are still some traditions that keep it in balance. The routine of getting ready for the big night has been such a tradition since the 1950s that the idea of returning to a socialized get-together, similar to the banquettes in the early 1900s, to get rid of inappropriate dancing has many students with their noses turned up. Many feel cheated. There was a dwindling number of students that showed up to homecoming in the fall because they were not able to dance their way. Of those who showed up, it was just to get their picture taken, and after 30 minutes, it was time for the after party.
SCA is taking the initiative on getting everyone (meaning upper class men) to come to prom this year and to stay for awhile. This year's prom theme, as many of you know, is "Prom, James Prom." While this is the signature saying in the 007 movies, the theme specifically refers to the twenty-first film Casino Royale with Daniel Craig as the James Bond. Sterling Moskal ('15), a member of SCA, is the master mind behind the theme name. The seniors, juniors and many sophomores will make their way to Fishburn Manor on April 26 to dance and more.
"I think we choose Fishburn Manor pretty often because it is a small and intimate space which is perfect," said Nicole Chaney ('14), also a member of SCA. "Since North Cross is so small and there will only be about 60 kids at prom, there's no reason to have it in a large space. Also, the layout is really nice - there are separate rooms so that the games and food can be in one room and the dancing can be in another room."
Prior to the evening of the event, SCA members in charge of set-up will be at Fishburn getting the poker games ready, unknown prizes accounted for and the DJ ready to turn-up.
"For my Junior Prom, I forgot the tickets and had to drive all the way home to get them," Christopher Greenwell said. "About one hour round trip. I was already out of my league with my date, so, not surprisingly, she was not amused."
“For my Senior Prom, the soccer team was playing in the AAA State Semi-finals on Prom Night," Christopher Greenwell continued. "We got completely crushed in the game, but all of our dates were in the stands in their prom dresses - my date, a friend of my sister's, was actually lovely and wore pink with her mother's pearls; the poor corsage was completely wilted by the heat by the time we all got to the dance."