Prom can be a magical time of the school year, but it can also be incredibly stressful. Take some of that stress away and start the planning process early. Don’t wait until spring to assemble the prom committee! Here are some fun facts to get you in the prom-planning spirit.
Tea and Yawning
The first reference to a ‘prom’ is in a college student’s journal from 1894. Back then, high schools hosted these events as an opportunity for students to practice their manners rather than a fun party with dancing. Picture a bunch of students sitting around politely for tea, and you’ve got the idea.
In the first half of the century, proms got more fun. Schools started serving dinners and even hiring bands (making room for DJs, eventually), but the post-war economic boom of the 50’s got the party started. This was when schools started hosting proms in banquet halls rather than gymnasiums, and students began dressing up in expensive attire for the affair.
In the late ’60s and early ’70s the popularity of prom fizzled a little bit. A lot was going on socially during this time: the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war protests and support. Students were interested and invested in other things, and prom took a back seat. However, it made a comeback in the ’80s, thanks in part to representation in movies, like “Pretty in Pink” or “Back to the Future.”
Presidents and Prom
In 1963, JFK learned that he’d bumped a prom when he booked space for a fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. He shifted his fundraiser to a smaller meeting space, allowing the prom to use the ballroom instead. He even dropped in on the prom while he was there. Twelve years later, President Gerald Ford allowed his daughter to hold her school’s prom in the Whitehouse.
Once upon a time, asking someone to prom was simple. You left them a note or asked them directly, but either way, the conversation was mostly semi-private until it was over. Evidently, that wasn’t enough potential embarrassment in the prom planning process, and thus the “promposal” was born in the 2000s. Named after their similarity to traditional marriage proposals, “promposals” are detailed, extravagant, often expensive ways to ask someone to prom.
Stuck in Tradition
Many of the traditional rules of prom are stuck in the past, like dress codes that negatively impact non-binary students or body shame individuals, or limitations on who you can bring as a date based on gender or even race. But in most places around the country, proms are making at least some progress against this type of thinking.
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