I’ve been to two proms: one was at the end of Year 11 and very much a typical prom, and the other was a ‘leavers ball’ at the end of Year 13. It was nothing like the prom you see in films; there were no scandals, and there wasn’t a moment at the end where we all of a sudden ‘entered adulthood’. It was just an overpriced party with most people from your year. But do I regret going? Absolutely not. Do I think it’s worth it? Definitely.
Prom was so ridiculously hyped up in the months leading to it, even I was beginning to worry about going. Registration was full of girls comparing dress colours and styles, our head of year emphasised the importance of good behaviour beforehand otherwise we could be banned. It seemed like everyone thought it was a massive deal, but on the night it was just a party – I was talking with a friend about prom the other day and we agreed that actually, the most fun part was getting ready and then the afterparties. But at the time, it was a big deal, and it was a fun night. It was the first time most of us had dressed up, and it was the last time we would all see each other as one big cohort.
A common argument against prom is that it’s expensive, and yeah it isn’t cheap but it doesn’t have to break the bank. Both of the dresses I wore for prom were definitely under £100, and I’ve gotten a lot of use out of my more casual looking year 13 one. I had my hair ‘done up’ in a lovely swirly pinned up situation because I normally just wore it down, bought a few bits of jewellery and actually had my makeup done at a counter, which ended up being free because the original woman had to cancel! The tickets weren’t that expensive, I went with friends, the school provided transport and there were some complimentary drinks and a dinner put on. Obviously, money had to be spent, but it was nowhere near the ridiculously high costs that are mentioned whenever people like to argue against having prom – it can be expensive, but it’s also easy to do on a budget.
And look, some parts are a bit too cringey to think about now. At the Year 11 prom, they had a photographer who liked taking photos essentially from the floor and making us pose in very unnatural positions, so there were a lot of awkward photos from that night. At one point when having photos with a friend, he suggested we just “put [our]arms around each other’s shoulders”. We’re not even big huggers, let alone posing for a photo like that! Even at the leaver’s ball, the photographer suggested myself and a male friend look a bit more coupley for a photo…
The music was equally as cringey, and nobody could keep their heels on for more than 5 minutes, but it was a lovely way to say goodbye to everyone you’ve spent years studying with. Both proms I went to, I spent the entirety of with my best friends. Essentially, prom is what you make of it. If you spend the whole time sitting at a table with people you don’t really get on with then it won’t be as good as exploring the grounds with your friends or taking stupid pictures with way too many people in a cramped photobooth.
Prom really is a celebration of the end of an era – you’re finishing high school, and everyone’s moving on to different places. It’s worth going even just to say goodbye to everyone and to have one final celebration, and I think I would regret having not gone.