Deromanticizing the ritual of prom
The dramatic crowning of prom queen. The makeover scene. The final kiss. Turn on any movie about high school, and prom will always be the final showdown. But how does the magic of prom translate to the real world? Are exaggerated promposals, the battle for a date, or a custom-made gown a lofty goal or a real-life expectation?
Prom at Stevenson is, to put it lightly, an all-out affair. Photographs at Spyglass, one of the most coveted golf courses in the world. A pre-prom reception with towers of desserts. Buses to and from San Jose, where guests are treated to a bottomless mocktail bar and a balcony with sweeping panoramic views of the Bay Area. Dinner, dancing, karaoke, and an end time close to one in the morning. Laughter, awkward small talk, or the repeated “Can we take a photo together?” rings throughout the night.
For the juniors, there’s a mood of anticipation and fear in the air. Junior Mia Schlenker shares some worries, “I’m scared about a lot of things. I’m scared that it’s not going to live up to my expectations and I do want to enjoy my night. I’m scared about wardrobe malfunctions. I’m scared of having bad photos.” Likewise, I wasn’t really aware of how long it would be.” Maya Chavez expresses a moment of cynicism,“Going into the prom, my standards were so low. I thought the music was going to be awful, and the ‘dance’ part for prom. I was so stressed about doing my hair and makeup.”
For some, there was a last-minute scramble to find the finishing touches. Junior Becca Claire shares, “My expectation for prom was that I thought I would be more prepared and get a dress earlier. I ended up getting mine tailored the day before” Likewise, junior Phoebe Zeidberg adds, “I discovered I was going to prom the day tickets were due, so everything was a last-minute affair. It was not a really big deal, so I didn’t think much of it. My main concern was it was going to be too long.”
For the seniors, the curtain has been peeled back. Lydia Yu reflects on her first prom experience, “The Stevenson prom does not match my expectations from Disney Channel. Still, I wasn’t let down or anything. Especially at an American high school, it’s almost a rite of passage.” Curtis Da Silva adds, “Because our school has a tradition of going to the same venue, I feel like I’m going to know what’s going to happen.”
While the sense of predictability might be a damper on the night, the sense of anticipation over senior prom looms over. The last chance to find a date or eat with your high school friends in extravagant dresses and suits. Senior Kat Clifford reflects, “I was happy with my prom experience at Stevenson. I got to enjoy the night with my friends, and that was what really mattered.” Senior Grace Kirch shares a similar sentiment, “It was fun to be with all my friends one last time before graduation.”
Though prom is full of events and socializing, the biggest complaint is the duration. Unlike other school proms where the dance happens at night, and everyone plans their own pre-prom dinners, Stevenson ensures guests are thrown into the festivities right from the afternoon. While this ensures maximum bonding, it can also lead to fatigue and a drained social battery. Clifford shares her thoughts, “I wish the venue had been closed because the ride there and back was extremely exhausting and we would’ve been able to enjoy each others company better in a venue setting rather than a bus.” Likewise, Yu adds, “I wish someone would have told me how long it is. It’s a really long process because we start at like 2 pm and you don’t get back til 1am.”