Prom is Right Around the Corner!


SPP Prom is coming up on May 31st, 2014. Most students know that here in the U.S., high school students have an iconic springtime formal dance known as prom (short for promenade). High school juniors and seniors across the country get dressed up, have their hair and make-up done and spend the night dancing and taking pictures. The cost of prom in the United States averaged $1,078 per family in 2012 and $1,139 in 2013. With an estimated increase of 34% per year, prom is predicted to be $1,949 in 2014.


In the early days of high school proms, the dance served a similar function to a debutante ball. Early proms were times of firsts: the first adult social event for teenagers; the first time taking the family car out after dark; the first real dress-up affair; and so forth. Proms also served as a heavily-documented occasion, similar to a milestone event such as a first communion or a wedding. 

High school yearbooks did not start covering proms and including prom pictures until the 1930s and 1940s, however historians believe that proms may have existed at colleges as early as the late 1800s.

Proms worked their way down from college gatherings to high school extravaganzas.

In the early 1900s prom was a simple tea dance where high school seniors wore their Sunday best. In the 30s and 40s prom was an annual class banquet where students wore party clothes and danced. As Americans gained more money and leisure time in the 1950s, prom became more extravagant and elaborate.


Boys usually dress in black or white formal wear, regardless of the time of the event. Sometimes boys will pair brightly colored ties, or bowties with vests and in some case s in colors matching their date’s dress. Most are rented from stores that specialize in formal wear rentals.

Girls wear traditional ladies’ dresses or evening gowns and adorn themselves with ladies’ costume jewelry. They usually have their hair, make-up and nails done for the event. Girls also wear a corsage given to them by their dates and girls give boys matching boutonnières to be worn on their lapels.

This year at SPP, Masquerade is the theme of prom. Attire is formal dress and a mask to fit the theme. Students will cruise down the Mississippi on a riverboat! Photo time starts at 5:30 p.m. and students are to board the boat at 6:30 p.m. The boat will return at 10 p.m.

Tickets are $35 until May 16th and $40 after May 19th.


Girls will usually get ready together as a social activity either at home or at a salon.

Prom couples will then gather at a park, garden, or their date’s houses for single and/or group photographs. Prom attendees may rent limousines to transport them to the prom venue (usually a banquet room or school gymnasium).

The dance itself may have a band or DJ and a meal may be served. Also at the dance, a Prom Queen and Prom King may be revealed, but not always. These honorary titles are awarded to seniors in a school-wide vote prior to the prom. 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.” The Prom Queen and King may be given crowns to wear, while members of the court may be given sashes to wear.


Related Social Gatherings Elsewhere:

Similar events take place in many other parts of the world. In Australia, the terms “school formal” and “ball” are most commonly used for occasions equivalent to the American prom, and the event is usually held for students in senior years.

There are countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, Central and South America, and the Caribbean that celebrate prom or an equivalent.

 In South Africa, the equivalent of the American prom is the Matric Dance, taking place during the final year of high school. It usually takes the form of a formal dinner and dance and in most schools; the 11th grade class is responsible for arranging the event.

In Afghanistan, there is a lunch party organized by the graduating students called “graduation party.” This is mostly seen in the university level graduation after the 16th class with a bachelor degree. The party has two major parts; the formal part with the professors and guests and the informal part with the music and dancing at the 2nd phase.  Both boys and girls wear “made/rented” academic dress through the entire part one of the party and in part two it is a party and casual.

In Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine proms are called “Vipusknoy vecher,” which literally means “evening of graduation.” They take place from the 18th to the 20th or the 23rd to the 25th of June, after all state exams are completed. First, all graduates receive their atestats (or diplomas). Students with higher marks receive them first. Afterward, the prom continues as a school ball, traditionally with classic dances. Proms must start with the school waltz. At the conclusion of the prom evening, it is tradition to walk the whole night and watch sunrise in the morning.

In Honduras, the prom equivalent is called “Cena de Graduacion.”  Held in luxury hotels, also families of the graduating students are invited to the event. The night consists of a formal graduation and delivery of their diplomas. Afterward, a dinner is held between the graduating students and their families or friends in the same room which later will become in a dance floor for everyone. After the Prom, the students rent a limo and take a ride all over their city to make them known as formal graduated students.


Published by

Nacel Open Door

Nacel Open Door, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to international understanding and language education.

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