Flashback: Prom

As we got together to say goodbye to spring we at Once A Month started reminiscing about high school and our experiences at school dances, namely that springtime staple: Prom.  An article from the Denver Post  says a survey by Visa found that “American families with  teenagers say they plan to spend an average of $1,078 on prom clothes, transportation, food, tickets and incidentals.”  And that’s the average for the whole country, they break it down by region and apparently in the northeast they are throwing down almost $2000 for that special night.  With a price tag like that we can only imagine what the experience is like… a designer gown? riding around in a limo? dinner at a five star restaurant?  Here are some stories of our Proms (and other dances!) Past.

Dances were a big deal to me. BUT (Not to sound too “woe is me”) I never went with anybody I actually liked-liked until my junior prom. Every date before that was just a friend, which was fun, but it didn’t hold a special meaning for me. Junior prom changed that. I went with a boyfriend, whom I went on to date for four years (Inside joke here, sorry: “FOUR YEARRRRRRS”). That day was perfect from start to finish. I felt the prettiest that day – beating out even the times I got dolled up for pageants…I was with a guy I loved…I was with a group of my best friends…the music was great…simply perfect!

As far as cost – I spent next to nothing! The dress I wore (the white one pictured) was borrowed (thanks Shanon!), my hair was done by my friend Jesika, and I did my own make-up. I spent about $40 on a mani/pedi, about $30 on tanning, and about $15 for my date’s boutonniere. My date paid for our dinner and our prom tickets. My friends and I did not take a limo to prom. In fact, I NEVER took a limo to ANY dance in high school.

Fun fact: I never went to my senior prom because I was living in Los Angeles!

I was not surprised to discover that Midwest teens spent the least on their prom expenditures. I never came anywhere NEAR $1,078! I went to Prom 3 years in a row since we didn’t have a specific Junior or Senior prom. There was 1 dance and you/your date had to be a junior or senior to attend. In all three years, I never rode in a limo, I did my hair and make-up at home, and my dresses were never more than a few hundred dollars. My senior year dress was even custom made! (I went with a flapper theme! I like vintage) We also didn’t have a prom King or Queen! Everybody just ate, went to the dance, and had a great time. We didn’t get drunk, most of us we too involved in activities to even care about that. We definitely didn’t put that much pressure on ourselves to look perfect or feel like debutantes. I’ll put it this way, we weren’t trying to look like the bride, more like the bridesmaids. It was about having fun with your friends and your date…and then you went home. No hotel rooms. No “will we/won’t we have sex?” Just harmless teenage fun. And it was a blast!

So take it from me, kiddos, don’t let all that other crap that comes along with Prom (i.e. drinking, sex, and looking “perfect”) ruin a perfectly good evening. Wear what you like and be with the people you like (that applies to the rest of your life too).

For me, Junior prom was the big deal. Mom & Dad took me to get my dress at a local bridal place. I think it cost around $125.00 and was pink as can be! I had a date, we went with a group of friends… it really wasn’t everything to write home to mom about. The folks on the court were people I didn’t vote for, the room was full of awkward sexual tension among couples, everyone was competing trying to find someone that looked worse then them to make themselves feel better. I could’ve done without. 

Senior year rolled around. My girlfriends and I weren’t really interested in going but last minute figured why not. It was going to be our last one. I borrowed a dress and my friend Shawna wore hers from the previous year, we did our hair and make up at home… which was my daily hair style of straight locks. Needless to say, but I guess I’ll say it anyway, it was pretty boring. I never really experience dances that were all I ever wanted. I think the one dance that sticks out the most was a Sadie Hawkins Dance, where I went solo, but spent the whole time playing quarters with my cousin and his guy friends… Not sure if you remember the game, you keep the quarter spinning. If you let it stop, you get the quarter slid right into your knuckles. Maybe more my cup of tea? At the time it was. Prom was less adventurous for me, it didn’t feel anything like the movies. I still don’t understand why teens put so much pressure on the occasion. To this day, the only person I talk to from high school is my friend Shawna… so who cares who got on court, who lost their virginity that night, and who puked?

I was from a small town where our high school classes averaged 100 people, so Prom was less of an exclusive formal event for upperclassmen and more of just a fancy dance put on by the Junior class for whoever wanted to buy a ticket.  For me personally, who never had a date and always attended with a group of girlfriends and wasn’t on court for my classes prom, I would be surprised if the total cost of all my prom experiences was anywhere near $1000.  We weren’t renting limos and making dinner reservations at the fanciest restaurant in town.  We were eating at someone’s house, or having someone’s mom drive us to Applebee’s.  Junior year, because it was our class’s prom, my group of friends did make reservations and car pool to a supper club but it still wasn’t anything extremely fancy or expensive.  For me it was just about getting a little dressed up and hanging out with my friends, and I seem to have much fonder memories of Homecoming Dances than Proms anyway.  Because the Homecoming dance was the culmination of a whole week of fun activities: dressing up for theme days, pep rallies, and a football game.  Plus it was less formal so I continued to wear dresses I bought for those dances to weddings and other events for years to come, my Junior year Homecoming dress was my first Little Black Dress and I would wear it and still get compliments on it in college (my personal evidence as to the lasting classiness of the LBD).  When our senior year rolled around and it was our homecoming, the one guy in my group of friends was in cross-country so we encouraged him to be on court [our school required that guys on homecoming court play a fall sport, an update from when it was just football players] and since he was gay and thus didn’t have a girlfriend to accompany him, he asked me to be his ‘date’.  I enjoyed being on Homecoming court – it was pretty much the same school dance experience I’d always had hanging out with all my friends, I just had to ride around the track when they announced the court at the football game and walk out with my date at the dance’s grand march.

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