August 19, 2022

So Far From What It Once Was


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.

Pre PromFirst, 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.

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11 thoughts on “So Far From What It Once Was

  1. I watched an informitive video created by the schools in the 60’s or 70’s about proms. The proms in the past were boring as all get out. No modern teen (and a couple modern adults) would willingly go to one. Now I’m not saying grinding or anything that a kid couldn’t wear to school on a normal occasion is appropriate, but I believe going all the way back to how prom’s started would signal their death bell. Maybe instead we could simply start playing music from a generation ago (classic rock for example), that music is not condusive to grinding, and hold seminars before prom showing the exact point were a dress goes from acceptable to showing to much cleavage.

  2. You’re right, Loc, there has to be clear standards. But even when standards are clear, people will try to break them and then what?

    But it’s more than just the grinding and the cleavage, it’s the whole atmosphere surrounding the event. It’s become the unofficial time to act like an adult. It’s got the reputation of being more than a dance, but a time where you lose your virginity, a time when you get plastered, etc.

    I’m not against dressing up and having a good time going out, but what I am concerned is that the nature– what was behind the event– has changed to the point that the glitter has survived but none of the meaning.

  3. I went to both my proms with my husband (of course he wasn’t my dh then, but we did get engaged the December prior to my senior prom), and thankfully, we behaved ourselves afterwards. Our school always had/has an after prom party that is even better than the prom itself.

    That said, I went because of all the hype…that it’s something “every girl” needs to experience…the whole day of hair/makeup appointments, the fancy dress (I borrowed my out-of-state best friend’s floor length velvet, so no $ there)…and it was a very special night. As a parent, I’m glad for that frame of reference. I don’t want my girls to “want” to go to the prom, I doubt they’ll feel the pull as I did, since we homeschool, but I’ll be able to empathize and perhaps try to provide a special alternative when those times come and my girls hear all their female cousins going on and on and on about it.

    However, our small town school seemed protected from the drug/alcohol influence, I had very conservative friends, and for the most part we danced a few times and socialized the remainder. I’m sure it’s ten times worse now.

    I really don’t see how we could remake prom to satisfy everybody. There are some things you have to be willing to give up based on your convictions. I wasn’t a strong enough Christian as a teen to make that choice wisely. Thank God I wasn’t compromised in some way by choosing to be in an environment that couldn’t have been pleasing to Him.

  4. Are you kidding, Loc? I went to junior high and high school dances in the 70s and they played music that is more than a generation old now and the grinding, etc, was as disgusting as ever! (And what is it that makes men think “Stairway to Heaven” is like the best song ever, anyway?)

    But I didn’t go to my “prom”. Not because I didn’t want to, but because nobody asked. The saddest thing about it was my job at the time: working in the men’s dept of a nice store, I got to order the tuxes for all the guys.

    Oh well.

  5. I didn’t go to the prom in my school– and my Calculus teacher was really laying into me about it. Being the good Baptist I am, I didn’t do any dancing (but a little tap for “Singin’ in the Rain” and in gym class) so it was easy to say no. I had seen a dance or two being in the school building late to get something, but never even was tempted to go.

    I was dating the girl that would be my wife during her senior prom, and (like the disclaimer said) we just went out to eat, parked by some water and there was fireworks there, and then we went back to her house. The funniest thing I remember about the night was asking for steak sauce and them bringing a wine menu!

    We were a small town, and I don’t know if there was any grinding there, but it’s just easier to abstain, I think.

    So, Rebecca, now we hear more about your background. And that you have a men’s dept expertise– and yet all of your blog is about women’s fashion?!

  6. I never went to prom, but witness much of the spending with my cousin and his friend who just went through this process! Boy oh boy did some of the kids spend lots of $$$ or shall I say their parents!

  7. And how about the local newspaper who recently ran, on the cover, the story and photo to go along with it of two young men going together to the prom. So now there’s that polictically correct aspect of it as well.

    I attended the grand march for my foster son’s prom and was taken by the thought that these girls had experienced all this “hype” of being a “princess” for a night and all the money that made that happen and it did very little to prepare them for true life as a woman, mother, wife, etc. It was “all about them” and life from there was all downhill. For my daughters, I want to save their being a princess for when they meet their prince charming and he asks their father for permission to LOOK at them much less engage them in conversation. Um, grinding…not on your life unless you want to be running down a country road with daddy pursuing you with his shotgun ready to fire! :angry:

  8. Just a few notes. I live in Slidell, where SALMEN High School is. There were no prom incidences in St. Tammany Parish. Please read the article you referenced. All of the “infractions” were from Orleans and Jefferson Parish.


  9. I went to the prom. It was tons of fun. Mostly I remember everyone’s shock when I showed up with my hair cut really short (Throughout my Junior and Senior years I had grown my hair out. It was about 5-6″ past my shoulders. Fortunately there are limited pictures to prove it 😉 ).

    I went with “the girl next door” who was a Christian girl into all things good. We danced a few songs (no grinding of course) but mostly we just hung around and talked with our friends.

    After the prom about 4-5 friends of mine and their dates came to my house (LOL, but not my date. She was used to going to bed at 8pm and was falling asleep). My mom had wanted me to have a good place to have a good clean prom party with out all the “typical” craziness. We all stayed up late drinking soda, talking, and playing pool. It was great fun.

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