The enchantment of prom

Apr 28 2014 - 3:30pm


Illustration by KARISSA WANG/NUAMES/
Illustration by KARISSA WANG/NUAMES/

Prom -- the fairy tale evening realized.

The extravagance and opulence of the venue and the gowns formulate an atmosphere of sheer anticipation. This one night that teenage girls dream about and boys speculate about is heralded as the ensign of the high school experience. Prom is wholeheartedly embraced by the American society and has even seeped itself into a part of the American dream with Gatsby-like proportions.

Prom is most often a spring event, dating back to 1894 when a college student first referred to a dance held at Smith College as a "prom," short for promenade, according to the Mental Floss webpage article by Matt Soniak, "The Surprisingly Humble Origins of Prom."

The promenade is a basic dance move, derived from the French word meaning, "to walk"; it is well known as a step in western square dancing and ballroom dance.

One Top of Utah school, Morgan High School, keeps the formal tradition of the promenade,.

"At Morgan we do a tradition called promenade where you walk out with your date and they announce your names so everyone can see all the dresses and couples and parents can take pictures," senior Laura Deru explained.

As afore mentioned, proms began at the college level, however, the dances grew to be so popular they shifted to high schools as a formal extra-curricular activity that was designed to help students learn how to behave and use proper etiquette around the opposite gender.

Expensive or cheap?

The evening has transformed through the years into "a tradition, and almost a rite of passage," senior Alexis Larsen, of Weber High School said.

"It's a night to be a princess," the senior says. "Prom is the night that you get to get all dressed-up and as beautiful as you can, and then one of the most rewarding moments is when the guy walks in and sees you and complements how you look. It is the night when you get to be your best self."

At the roots of prom is frugality. In the 1940s, proms were most commonly held in cafeterias and gyms; it was during the 1950s that the dance moved to less scholastic locations. Today, the dances may be held everywhere from city conference centers to the rotunda of the Utah State Capitol.

Despite what movies may portray about the typical prom couple spending thousands of dollars, an increasing popular trend has developed to go cheap.

"The less expensive it is the more fun it is. If you spend a lot of money it just gets awkward," says Alex Gates Frogner, a junior at Weber High School.

Larsen agrees: "The cheaper and more creative it is, totally more fun."

"It all kind of depends how you go about it; you can spend a lot of money on it but you can still have fun cheap dates," Tyson Jepson, a senior at Davis High School, said.

Madison Cassil, a junior at Davis, said about the subject of splurging excessively for the dance, "I think maybe it's a popularity thing, like all the clicks, just to see where you are in the high school society."

'A celebration of high school'

Prom has become a staple high school tradition layered in with other pop-cultural customs like the tulle of a full-length gown.

Larsen said she keeps a tradition of, "Having a family member do my hair in some elegant way, usually in some new style."

One of Cassil's traditions is "doing a slow dance with the person you went with."

The history of prom was not so glamorous and grand as its legacy has become but the essence of the dance remains the same.

Prom "is just a great place to socialize. It's what everybody looks forward to," says Jepson.

Deru adds, "Prom to me means celebrating moving forward in your life and growing up. It's also a celebration of high school."

Prom -- the "capitol" festivity of the typical high school career, a date to be remembered for better or worse.

Sarah Stratford is a senior at Davis High School. She loves cinematography, books, art and writing. Email her at

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