The Origin of the Prom
Prom (n.)- a ball or dance, as of a particular class at
a school or college.
Although the exact date of the first prom is unknown, I
would be willing to take a guess on what went on that
night. I see guys in one corner, girls in the other
(sounds kind of like middle school, huh?). I see a band
consisting of a violin and contra bass providing the
musical atmosphere. I also think that each kid ate
dinner with their parents that night, and everyone just
met at the school for the dance.
Dances at the beginning
of the century were a stiffer and more proper than what
we are accustomed to today. Without fancy prom dresses,
rental tuxedos, DJís with tons of equipment, and rented
halls decorated to the extreme with balloons and
streamers, proms were probably a lot less stressful and
As time progresses, so
did the style of the prom. In the 1930ís and 1940ís,
brass bands might have been introduced into the scene,
as jazz and swing began to become the craze. Along with
this music, kids were dancing more than ever, trying to
dance away their fears about being drafted into the war
or worrying about working on the family farm instead of
going to college.
In the next few decades,
prom began to change into what it is today. It began to
become customary for girls to go all out, buying the
prettiest, fluffiest prom dresses to wear for just one
night. The idea of having a prom king and queen was
introduced by a high school along the way to add to the
notion of recognizing popularity at every possible
moment. Small bands began to get booked as doo-wop and
rock and roll picked up momentum among teenagers.
It wasnít until the
1980ís and 1990ís that a high school prom began to look
like what we see today. DJís were introduced into
society, and at that moment, live music at the prom
became less common. Who would want just one band when a
DJ could provide every song you ever wanted to hear?
What was once probably just a dance for seniors began to
become a mixed dance of differing grade levels in some
schools. This factor usually occurred because of cost or
size. If a senior class wasnít big enough, an additional
grade was invited to minimize the price of tickets to
rent out a nice room and pay for food and the DJ.
Other things that became
popular over the years were prom themes. Students voted
on a theme that they wanted to use as the title of their
prom. Some schools choose to pick a theme and carry it
throughout the decorations, where others choose a song
to be their prom motto. ďIíve Had the Time of My Life,Ē
chosen by the Class of 2000, is an oddity, being that
the past few yearís prom themes were all current
releases. This song, from Dirty Dancing, expresses that
high school years are the best of times.
After-proms were an idea
created by parents and schools to help keep kids off the
roads and not involved in alcoholic parties. A brilliant
idea, most schools offer it as the popular party to
attend immediately after the dance.
Proms have definitely
gone through a makeover throughout the past century.
Compared to a prom 100 years ago, we now have loud music
full of bass, kids who spend fortunes on clothes and
accessories, and classes who spend months preparing one
nightís worth of dancing. But one thing still remains:
Proms are a blast! So when you are dancing away this May
12th, remember that you are adding to a tradition that
teenagers just like you began over one hundred years