I need to start this post with a disclaimer. My wife and I did not go to the prom. On prom night for her, we got dressed up and ate a fancy meal, but we did not go.
Like many other things, I’m sure there was a time where the prom was not what it is now. I’m not necessarily talking about any one thing, for I think that there are many things about the yearly event that have been taken and pushed to the limits such that very little about what it was remains.
The tradition dates back to a time where there were formal balls to mark graduation. If you can envision back to the beginning of the country with all of the pomp and circumstance and seriousness surrounding education, civility and the code of the gentleman, this would give you the correct picture.
What has happened over time is the changing of the special to the common. No, I’m not saying that teens will always get this dressed up, but I am saying that there are outside and common influences that have changed this night from a night of honor and dignity to one of wantonness and debauchery.
First, enter the casual dances schools now have. Not a place for doing the waltz, but a place where teens learn to grind, and rub their bodies together. These “dances” are the ones the teens get to know, and those that they practice and find enjoyable are the ones that they will want to practice.
Second, it doesn’t end on the dance floor. Typically the couple is arranging for a place to go after the dance– be it someone’s house or a hotel room. Girls are more willing to give it all up to the guy that asked them out. Guys are more willing to drink as much as they can. It’s almost a predatory time.
Third, money is spent. Boy is it ever. Money for the gown, the limo, the tux, the tickets, the after prom activities. It never ends. People are spending at least $1000 on the night.
Some schools, however, are trying to put some dignity back into the night– but they’re doing so at a high cost. Some plan a post-prom activity night. I knew one girl that wasn’t going to the prom, but was going post-prom because all of her friends would be there!
And then there’s the latest tiff between a school and a set of parents. Marrero High School, Jefferson Parrish in New Orleans recently denied access to the prom for 25 female students because they didn’t meet dress code.
In an episode that has garnered national media attention, most of the girls were turned away because of an excessive display of cleavage, though the policy also bans clothing that is “tight-fitting” or “see-through.”
Many parents got upset– they spent a lot of money and they don’t like their girl being turned away for wearing the dress she wanted. So, they complain that the standards are not worded clearly enough. Come on.
In any case, the prom is just another indication of where we were and where we are headed.
Edit: I had originally stated that the problem was with Salmen high school in Slidell. This was not the case, as was brought to my attention. I have since updated this post to reflect the correct school and school system.