Prom (short for promenade) is a formal gathering of teenagers typically held once a year. It figures greatly in popular culture and is a major event among high school students in the United States and increasingly elsewhere due to the influence of American TV shows and movies.
The first proms came about as middle-class replicas of debutante balls. Thus, proms were created as less expensive, less elaborate affairs where teenagers could meet in their finest clothes to share dinner and sometimes dancing while learning social etiquette together. However, proms today are more elaborate. The cost of prom in the United States in 2012 averages $1,078 per family .
Logistics and Traditions
There are three broad phases of a Prom: Selection, Preparation, Prom Night.
Prom centers on the coupling of a teenage male and female in the Junior and Senior high school classes known as “Prom Dates,” although same-sex couples are increasingly more common at proms. Couples that are already paired in a romantic relationship typically attend prom together by default.
Single students ask another single person to be their date. This process sometimes causes tremendous agony because rejection of one person by the other is possible. Single people will sometimes spend months building a relationship with their hopeful date to mitigate this risk.
Males usually dress in black or white formal wear, regardless of the time of the event, sometimes paired with brightly colored ties or bow ties with vests, in some cases in colors matching their date’s dress. Most are rented from stores that specialize in formal wear rentals.
Females wear traditional dresses or gowns and wear jewelry such as earrings and a necklace. Traditionally females wear perfume and make-up such as eyeshadow, lipstick and blush. Girls also wear a corsage, given to them by their dates, and girls give boys matching boutonnières to be worn on their lapel.
Immediately before prom night, the final phase, girls typically get their hair styled, often in groups as a social activity at a salon.
Prom dates then gather at a park, garden, or their own and their dates’ houses for photographs. Prom attendees may rent limousines to transport groups of friends from their homes to the prom venue.
Some schools host their proms at hotel ballrooms or other venues where weddings typically take place.
Dancing is the primary activity. There may be a band or DJ playing a mix of uptempo music mixed with ballads, also known as “slow songs”.
Usually dancing is interrupted so that a Prom Queen and Prom King may be revealed. These are honorary titles awarded to students chosen in a school-wide vote prior to the prom, and are usually given to seniors. Juniors may also be honored, but would be called “Prom Prince” or “Prom Princess.” Other students may be honored with inclusion in a “Prom Court.” Inclusion in a Prom Court may be a reflection of popularity of those chosen and their level of participation in school activities, such as clubs or sports.
After prom, parents or a community may host a “prom after party” or “afterglow” or “post-prom” at a restaurant, entertainment venue, or a student’s home. Other traditions often include trips to nearby attractions, such as amusement parks, regional or local parks, or family or rented vacation houses. Some of these post-prom events are chaperoned and some are unsupervised.
It is also common for teenagers to have sex for the first time to conclude the Prom Night phase.
- “The soaring cost of prom: By the numbers - Yahoo! News”