In the United States, and increasingly in the United Kingdom and Canada, a promenade dance, most commonly called a prom, is a semi-formal (black tie) dance or gathering of high school students. This event is typically held near the end of the senior year (the last year of high school). Proms figure greatly in popular culture and are major events among high school students. High school juniors attending the prom may call it "junior prom" while high-school seniors may call it "senior prom". In practice, this event may be a combined junior/senior dance.
At a prom, a Prom King and Prom Queen may be revealed. These are honorary titles awarded to students elected in a school-wide vote prior to the prom, and seniors are usually awarded these titles. 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 selection method for a Prom Court is similar to that of Homecoming Queen/Princess, King, and Court. Inclusion in a Prom Court may be a reflection of popularity of those students elected and their level of participation in school activities, such as clubs or sports. The Prom Queen and Prom King may be given crowns to wear. Members of the Prom Court may be given sashes to wear and photographed together.
Similar events take place in many other parts of the world. In Australia and New Zealand, 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, although the bestowing of the regal titles rarely, if ever, occurs. Many schools hold a formal graduation ball for finishing students at the end of the year in place of or as well as a formal. In Ireland a debutante ball or Debs may also be held. In Poland high schools organize a "studniówka". The term "prom" is becoming more common in the UK and Canada due to the influence of American films and television shows.
In the United States
In the early days of high school proms, the nighttime dance served a function similar 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 first communion or a wedding, in which the participants were taking an important step into a new stage in their lives. In earlier days, the prom may have also served as an announcement of engagement for the “best couple” after the prom court had been crowned and recognized.
While high school yearbooks did not start covering proms and including prom pictures until the 1930s and 1940s, historians, including Meghan Bretz, believe proms may have existed at colleges as early as the late 1800s. The journal of a male student at Amherst College in 1894 recounts an invitation and trip to an early prom at neighboring Smith College for women. The word prom at that time may just have been a fancy description for an ordinary junior or senior class dance, but prom soon took on larger-than-life meaning for high school students.
Proms worked their way down incrementally 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 1920s and 1930s, prom expanded into an annual class banquet where students wore party clothes and danced afterwards. According to Jackie Blount, during the McCarthy era "schools became implemented curricula intended to keep youth sexually straight. In effect, schools became fundamentally important agencies in the nationwide campaign to fight homosexuality." This attitude further promoted heteronormative practices such as naming a prom king and prom queen, requiring strict gender conformity in dress, etc.
As Americans gained more money and leisure time in the 1950s, proms became more extravagant and elaborate, bearing similarity to today’s proms. The high school gym may have been an acceptable setting for sophomore dances (soph hop), but junior prom and senior balls gradually moved to hotel ballrooms and country clubs. Competition blossomed, as teens strove to have the best dress, the best mode of transportation, and the best looking date. Competition for the prom court also intensified, as the designation of “prom queen” became an important distinction of popularity. In a way, prom became the pinnacle event of a high school student’s life, the ultimate dress rehearsal for a wedding.
Today, prom continues to be a notable event in the social climate of high schools. Popular movies and novels attest to the importance of prom themes, prom dates, and prom queens. In some areas, the traditions of prom are not as rigid as they used to be, with some areas allowing individuals or groups to attend instead of couples. In 1975 U.S. First Daughter Susan Ford held her prom in the East Room of the White House.
Usage of the term “prom” is becoming more common and appears to be a colloquial and regional practice. Formal English usage suggests "Prom" is a noun and should be preceded by an article although it often is not in practice.
Boys usually dress in black or white formal wear, regardless of the time of the event, sometimes paired with ties or bow ties with vests, in some cases 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’ jewelry such as earrings and a necklace. Traditionally girls wear perfume, and make-up such as eyeshadow, lipstick and blush. Girls also wear a corsage, given to them by their dates, and girls give boys matching boutonnières to be worn on their lapels. Some couples want to match their dates dress color to their tie or suit. Some fashion houses within the industry have a special focus in the prom and evening wear sector.
Logistics and traditions
Prom attendees may be limited by their schools to be juniors or seniors and guests under age 21. Before prom, girls typically get their hair styled, often in groups as a social activity at a salon. Prom couples then gather at a park, garden, or their own and their dates’ houses for single and/or group photographs. Prom attendees may rent limousines to transport groups of friends from their homes to the prom venue: a banquet hall or school gymnasium. Some schools host their proms at hotel ballrooms or other venues where weddings typically take place. The dance itself may have a band or DJ. At prom, a meal may be served. The cost of prom in the United States averaged $1078 per family in 2012 and $1139 in 2013.
Some high schools allow only the graduating class (Seniors) to have a prom. Some schools also allow grade 11 (Juniors) to have a prom, and select high schools even have proms for Freshmen and Sophomores. In some cases there is a combined Junior/Senior prom. Some American high schools and colleges that do not allow school-sponsored dances will host a Junior/Senior prom as a banquet instead of a dance. Typically, students still dress in formal attire and attend as couples. More and more colleges are hosting proms in recent years, usually as fundraisers for campus organizations such as Ballroom Dance groups, fraternities/sororities, or other organizations. In recent years, American teens have started asking celebrities or famous models to their Proms.
After the prom, parents or a community may host a “prom after-party” or “afterglow” or “post-prom” at a restaurant, entertainment venue, or a student’s home. Other traditions often include trips to nearby attractions, such as amusement parks, regional or local parks, or family or rented vacation houses. Some of these post-prom events are chaperoned and some are unsupervised. Many Post Proms (After Prom Events) are at the school, and involve bringing entertainment such as interactive games, artists, and other entertainers to the school.
In the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom prior to the 2000s, many secondary schools held a "Summer Ball" to celebrate the end of term, and/or "Leavers Ball" to celebrate the end of schooling, but usually this did not have the cultural or social significance of the US-style Prom. From the 1970s there had also been a tradition of "School Discos", which were semi-formal events held at various times of the year, in particular during the Christmas period, though not all secondary schools would allow such events or "do's".
During the 2000s, school "Proms" have become common at UK schools, apparently due to the influence of US TV shows. The Daily Telegraph reported in 2012 that:
|“||elaborate 'passing out' celebrations for Year 11 students (aged 15–16) and Year 13 (aged 17–18) have become a cultural phenomenon, stoking passions and rivalries, and refashioning the sense of what a school party should be. More than 85 per cent of schools in Britain hold school Proms, which range from no-frills dinners in school halls to tailor-made extravaganzas in five-star hotels with such extras as ice- cream vans and photo booths.||”|
Schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland predominantly hold their Prom, or "School Formal", at the end of secondary education in Year 11 (ages 15/16) and the end of Sixth Form (aged 18), for those who have continued school.
Very rarely, schools in southeast part of England may even hold their proms at factories, for instance a steel mill, warehouse, or other industrial facility.
In Scotland it is usually only held at the end of S6 (ages 17/18) because all high schools in Scotland have pupils up to age 18 years, whereas elsewhere in the UK many students have to go to college to study for A-Levels. Proms are usually held in June, after the end of year exams. At Scottish formal events, boys usually wear kilts (kilts are also often seen in the other Celtic regions) and Highland dress outfitters often sell out in an area around this time of year due to demand from school events. Also in Scotland it is customary for traditional Scottish country dancing (part of the curriculum of all secondary schools) to be included.
Related social gatherings elsewhere
In Egypt, private schools have proms similar to ones held in the USA but with slight differences. The prom is held for a maximum of 3 hours, where teachers attend and enjoy some time with their students. Then there is the "after-prom", where no teachers or parents are allowed, during that time, the real party begins with all the students dancing and enjoying their time. The after prom can continue to 4 am and 5 am.
In South Africa, the equivalent of the American prom is the Matric Dance, taking place during the matriculation (i.e., final) year of high school (12th grade). It takes place towards the end of the third quarter, shortly before the spring break, after which the matriculation examinations commence. It usually takes the form of a formal dinner and dance. In most schools, the 11th grade class is responsible for arranging the event. Sometimes teachers and parents also attend.
In Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, and Tanzania most private schools with expatriates have proms or “end of year socials.”
In Zambia, private schools have a "leavers' dance/dinner" that is planned out by the grade 11 class and takes place on the Saturday after the Friday of their graduation ceremony. The dance is planned for the grade 12 class as well as the upper sixth form class and is normally done the 1st Friday after both of the classes are done writing their A Level and IGCSE examinations. The dinner begins at 7pm and the grade 11 class pose as the servers as well as the entertainment throughout the duration of the dinner. The dinner ends at midnight and is followed by the "after party" which is celebrated at another venue (usually a club) with no parents and no teachers. Costs for renting out the venue are covered by selling tickets to outsiders and the party is usually planned by the graduating classes themselves.
In Afghanistan there is a lunch party organized by the graduating students and called "graduation party." This is mostly seen in the university level graduation after the 16th class with a bachelor's degree, this day all the University seniors, faculty members and professors are invited as honors. 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. The students who are graduating may choose the halls based on the availability and pricing, usually the halls are not available because all the Afghan parties like wedding are held in rented halls. Students calculate total participants including guests and family members then coordinate with the hall personal for the pricing including the food and the music and all, then the gross total is shared on the number of students. Usually this is 1000AFs/student equal to $20.
In Hong Kong, prom culture is inherited from the western countries and is generally called ball, such as Christmas Ball. This usually takes place during Christmas and Summer Break. This is more popular in the secondary education stage rather than in universities. Schools, apart from international schools, holding proms are usually single-sex school where normally the Student Unions in the schools will cooperate each other in organizing the event. In recent years, more and more individual unions got united and formed different student unions associations so as to organize large-scale events including large joint-school proms. Except those proms within the academic field, there are also adult proms for charity yearly where celebrities and government officers always go to these functions.
In India, Sri Lanka and Nepal, the equivalent to some extent is a farewell party or farewell gathering. The outgoing students are given a warm send-off by the junior students and staff. All the seniors are felicitated with souvenirs and superlatives are given awards. Unlike countries like USA and Canada there wouldn't be couple dances in India.
In Israel, high school graduation parties usually combine a play and a humble ceremony, followed by a dance party. In the past years, influenced by American culture, more and more graduates decide to hold a private graduation party similar to the American prom, with dress code, prom dates, limousines, and prom kings or queens, although usually not supported by the school.
In Lebanon, proms are held after the graduation ceremony at night. They are usually held at hotels with a formal dress code, prom dates, rented cars and, occasionally, prom kings and queens.
In Singapore, proms are held at the near end of a senior year for secondary schools. Proms are normally held after the final examinations of all senior students before graduating.
In Malaysia, proms are gaining in popularity, especially in the bigger cities. However, these gatherings are usually organized by students, and the school administration is not involved.
In Pakistan, the equivalent to the American prom is a farewell dinner or farewell function that takes place at the end of the college academic year. In a farewell function, one girl is appointed “Lady of the Evening”, and one boy is appointed “Gentleman of the Evening”.
In the Philippines, proms are popular in high schools. Prom usually takes place in the junior and senior years of high school, which is normally around February or March. Proms are commonly known as “JS Prom”, or, junior–senior prom. Conversely, if a high school has separate dances for juniors and seniors, the term "prom" is reserved for the juniors, and the dance for the seniors is called a "graduation ball" (often abbreviated as "grad ball" or simply "ball".) The associated student body generally organizes the event. Usually a prom king and queen are chosen. The basis for the king and queen judgment is the beauty and the fashion of the nominee, not the popularity.
In Vietnam, the equivalent to the prom is called liên hoan cuối năm. Some schools hold their liên hoan cuối năm at restaurants. But, majority of schools prefer simple "tea parties" with snacks and soft drinks inside their classrooms. In the high schools at rural countrysides, they don't celebrate at all. Unlike other countries, the students don't dress up in fancy dresses or tuxedos. Sometimes, they just simply wear school uniform to the tea parties.
In Albania, "mbrëmja e maturës", as graduation night, is the event held at the end of the senior year. Every school organizes it independently and the event usually takes place in May. Ceremonially it is very similar to prom nights in the United States.
In the Czech Republic, the last year in Gymnasium is celebrated with maturitní ples (“graduation ball”). This ball takes place before exams are taken, usually in January or February, the traditional season for balls during the Fasching (e.g., List of balls in Vienna). Normally, balls are formal but modern elements are included, too. The students invite their parents, other relatives and friends to come to the ball with them. The balls usually have a theme and the classes perform choreographed dance routines at the beginning or during the evening. The students also receive a ribbon. It's common that various artists are invited to perform at the ball, ranging from fireshow performers to famous celebrities. At the midnight, the classes perform "midnight surprise performance" – typically some sort of funny act. Sometimes several schools organize a joint event. The income is often used to finance a collective voyage of the students after the exams.
In Bulgaria, the ball is called abiturientski bal and is held at the end of 12th grade, when you are aged 18/19. Preparations for the ball begin at the end of the 11th grade, because students are supposed to organize the whole event. It is celebrated in May, mainly on the 23rd, 24th or 25th, after finishing exams. Students can bring a date to the event which is usually held in a restaurant or a club. Usually, before the main event there is a big gathering in front of the high school’s building, where graduates count to 12 (as in 12 grades) and take photos with each other before going to the restaurant called izprashtane (“dispatchment”). At the main event in the restaurant/hotel, there is music, usually pop and retro. Students are free to dance with whomever they want, even if they have come with a date. There is usually an afterparty at a dance club. Some people even organize a second afterparty. After the prom night, students usually go to an excursion together for 3 to 5 days. The popular destinations are the Black sea coast and Turkey. The event is often associated with excess in drinking, drugs, sex and lavish nouveau-riche style of dressing and parading (there are families that would spend as much as a year's salary on their son or daughter' s night). The media regularly criticize it, deploring decadence of morals.
In Belgium, as well as in some parts of the Netherlands, senior students celebrate their last 100 days of high school with a special day called Chrysostomos or 100-dagen feest (“100-days party”). Tradition states that on this winter day, seniors are allowed to pull pranks on their teachers and fellow students. Some schools handle a theme as dresscode, while others go for the traditional outfit: blue jeans, a black cotton jacket, a black hat (with a red or blue ribbon) and a whistle around the neck. Some even paint their faces and some seniors also carry a spray can (shaving cream or other fluids) to “attack” the non-seniors with. A noisy march through town is also part of the gig. Later during the day, students perform an act at school, usually a silly show involving school or a parody. In the evening, students head to a rented club to party. This involves dancing, singing and lots of beer to get a taste of fraternity life. Sometimes even teachers join the party to show that they too have a wild side. In the Netherlands, households where a child who has passed their high school exams often hang the student's backpack on a flagpole which is attached to the front of the house.
In Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia, matursko veče (maturalna večer and maturska večer), as graduation night, is the event held at the end of the senior year. It is similar to prom night in the United States. In Croatia, it is sometimes held in January or February, as in Austria.
In Denmark, the prom is called galla and takes place before the exams begin. The word galla refers to the dress code which is long dresses for the women and suits for the men. The prom in Denmark is well known for keeping the traditional dance Les Lanciers, where the third graders of high school (the seniors) start the whole dance, then the 1st and 2nd graders join later on (the high school, called "gymnasium" in Denmark, is three years).
In Estonia, the equivalent of the prom is often called Saja päeva ball. The event takes place 100 days prior to the graduation and may be organized with several schools altogether. Students can dance but other events may be involved, too, besides ball room dancing. The clothes are much the same kind as in proms of other countries.
In Finland, the equivalent of the prom is called vanhojen tanssit (senior ball). The event is held in February when third-year high school students (the abi) end regular classes in order to prepare for their final abitur exams, and the second year students become the oldest in the school. For the remainder of the school year, the second year students are called vanhat ("the old", or " the seniors"). For the ball, the students learn 10–15 formal dances, mostly old ballroom dances such as the mazurka or a polonaise. In the past, the style was to dress in an old-fashioned way, but these days the attire is similar to U.S. proms.
In France, high school students have only recently experienced prom. On June 27, 2013, more than 300 students in Paris, France held a prom. Event planning company White-Tie-Affair partnered up with multiple local companies to host the “Solidarity Prom Ball” charity gala. Food, drinks, venue, limousine as well as gift bags were sponsored by the different companies and provided for the students for free. On top of that, famous French music groups Psy4 de la Rime and Alibi Montana were the guest performance of the evening. All proceeds from the students’ entrance fee were donated to Donnons Leur Une Chance, a French non-profit organization that will help realize educational projects.
In Germany (and Austria), students celebrate their graduation from high school, or Gymnasium, with an Abifeier (from the graduation certificate or Abitur) or Maturaball (in Austria the graduation exam is called Matura). In Germany the events are informal and usually contain a series of student-organized activities that tend to make fun of teachers, sometimes with an extended hagiography about the favorite teacher. In Austria the Maturaball is formal and can be seen as a synergy of proms and cotillions and often are highlights of the regional ball season (between November and the end of Carneval) referencing the glamour of the great ball tradition of the former Austrian-Hungarian monarchy. More like the prom is the German Abiball, that follows the official graduation ceremony. Here the students usually wear suits and ball gowns. The Abiball often follows a certain order with a welcome, introductions, an award ceremony for students and sometimes an extended demonstration of all of the artistic outpourings of the students and staff. This is followed by a band (sometimes the school's own band, if there is any) or a DJ playing music, usually starting with a waltz before moving on to other dancing. Alcohol is available at these events since the legal drinking age in Germany is 16 (for beer and wine), and most graduating students are 18 or older.
In Hungary, students receive a ribbon to mark the beginning of the preparation for their graduation. Students receive this ribbon at a ball called "szalagavató", meaning the "inauguration of ribbons". This prom-like evening dance is traditionally held in the ball season of January–February, but recently sometimes also before Christmas. At the beginning of the ball, each graduating class performs a choreographed dance they learned during the months leading up to the event. After the school organised ball of the evening, students usually go out at night to drink to bars and discos, even if some of them are below drinking age (18 in Hungary).
In Ireland, this formal dance is called the débutantes' ball. This is referred to as the "grad", or, informally, debs in Ireland. This is a formal dance for students who have just graduated from secondary school (high school) and is traditionally held between September and October. Alcohol is available at these events.
In Italy the equivalent is known as "i cento giorni" (the one hundred days), an unofficial party organised by students themselves in a location of their choice 100 days before the final exams before high school graduation. Usually the party is not held with all graduating students, rather every class organizes a separated party to celebrate with classmates. The tradition of "i cento giorni" comes from Piedmontese military schools in the late 1800, where days remaining to graduation were counted starting from the 100th with the locution "Mak Π 100", from Piedmontese language "mac pì 100", translating as "just more 100 (days remaining)."
In Lithuania, the prom is held after final exams, usually the same day when high school diplomas are presented. The event is called išleistuvės.
In Norway, this event varies from school to school. It is usually held during the winter months, and is often called "Nyttårsball" which means "the new years ball." The students are not allowed to bring people from outside the school. In Norway it is the norm to have proms for 8th, 9th, and 10th graders at Norwegian middleschool and most of the time, there is no division between formal and grad – students can attend in whatever clothing they choose, such as traditional knee-long dresses.
In Poland, the prom (studniówka) is a very popular event held each year throughout the country; the word itself means "of or relating to 100 days". Most schools organise such an event about 100 days before the (matura) exams. The first dance of the prom is the polonaise, a traditional Polish dance. Traditionally, the dress code for the studniówka was a typical school outfit, i.e. a white blouse with a dark skirt or trousers. As opposed to the studniówka, the so-called Grand Ball ("bal maturalny") was held after graduation, formal attire required. Nowadays, as Grand Balls are rare, the studniówka has adopted a formal dress code.
In Portugal there's no prom tradition. Very rarely proms are held. Usually they happen before the end of the school year, in May or June and are called "Baile de Finalistas" (Finalist's Ball). The students wear formal suits and dresses. It is usually organised by a student association, elected in the beginning of the school year by the students to organise school events.
In Romania distinct proms are held each year in high schools and college for both the graduating students as well as the newly enrolled ones. They are called graduation balls and freshmen ("boboci", meaning "hatchlings" in Romanian) balls, respectivelly. They are usually not black tie (informal). The venue is chosen by the teaching staff and can be any place, including the school gym or auditorium, a club, restaurant etc. It is common to charge students an admission tax in order to offset the cost. One or more bands or singers are usually hired to provide entertainment. Often the event is sponsored by local businesses. Access is usually controlled and limited to students of that particular high school or university, but exceptions can be made for relatives and it is not uncommon for students from other institutions to try to crash a particular prom. Freshmen proms usually include a popularity contest of some sort, which designates 3 girls and 3 boys as places I, II and III "most popular" as chosen by student vote; the candidates have to undergo various entertaining challenges, which usually include pair dancing. Generally speaking, freshmen proms are the more popular, with college freshmen proms often being publicized as club events and promoted by radio stations, who take the opportunity to introduce bands and singers. Whereas graduation proms are more subdued and often not a public or even a school-wide event, many graduating classes choosing to restrict attendance just to the actual graduates and their teachers.
Belarus, Ukraine and Russia
In Russia, Belarus and Ukraine proms are called "Vypusknоi vechеr" (Выпускной вечер), 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. Proms are never held on the 21st/22nd because they took place on June 21 in 1941, but on the 22nd all graduates were drafted to fight the German invasion during World War II. First, all graduates receive their attestats (or diplomas). Students with higher marks receive them first. Afterward, the prom continues as a school ball, traditionally with classic dances. Students may choose restaurants, cafes, or ships rather than school grounds to hold the events. Proms may be held in a Discothèque, but it 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 (on a hill, if applicable, in Moscow – Sparrow Hills).
In Slovakia, the closest thing to a prom is Stužková, an occasion when the seniors get together with their parents, partners and teachers to celebrate their upcoming graduation. It takes place in November or December. Each of the students receives a green ribbon with their name on it (thus the name Stužková, the Ribbon Ball). The principal and the class teacher are given big green ribbons as well. Many of the students wear this ribbon on their jackets or shirts until graduation. Stužková typically includes a banquet, skits and songs prepared by students, and, of course, dancing. Men wear formal suits and women formal dresses. One week before Stužková is a ceremony of Pečatenie triednej knihy (Sealing of the Class-register) so that teachers will not give bad marks to students before Stužková. It is connected with some story and recorded by cameraman and then put on a DVD of Stužková. It usually starts at 6 p.m. and ends in the early hours of the next morning (4a.m.).
In Slovenia, the equivalent is Maturantski ples. It is held before the final exams between January and May, depending on the region and school. Students can bring dates and/or close family to the ball. It is a custom that each student dances the last dance of the first sequence, a Vienna Walzer, with his mother/her father. There is also a dinner and live music.
In some places in Spain proms are also celebrated as parties after school. This parties are called commonly "fiestas de graduación".
In Sweden, this kind of event is usually known as Studentbalen. The word "Studentbalen" is a proper noun meaning "The Student Ball," while the word studentbal is a common noun that can refer to any formal dinner and dance at a Swedish university. Studentbalen is usually held during the final weeks before graduating and can be formal.
The Swiss equivalent of a prom is the bal de printemps. Literally translated, this is a "Spring Ball." At some schools in the German speaking cantons, it is called "Maturaball." This is not always organized by the schools, but sometimes by a student's committee. It takes mostly part before the final exams.
In Turkey, the equivalent is called "Graduation Ball." The type of event and the rules applied are created by the student governments and school boards. It is a graduation tradition for seniors.
In Australia and New Zealand, the tradition is similar to schools in the United States. However, if the event is not described to the final year, it may be described as a Ball, School Formal, or simply Formal. If the event is in the final year of high school, it is sometimes called a Dinner-dance, Leavers' Dinner or Debutante Ball but is also commonly called a School Formal or "Formal." In Australia some schools may also have a Valedictory Dinner, which is like the formal but has students, parents and teachers instead of students and dates.
As the name suggests, attire for the occasion is generally formal. Boys will usually dress in a suit and tie. Girls traditionally wear formal gowns or dresses. In most cases a school formal is held at a local reception centre or ballroom. A multicourse meal is generally provided. After the meal students generally dance to popular music played by a hired DJ or sometimes a band. Many students group together to go to the formal in a limousine. While parents do not attend a formal, teachers may act as chaperones for the formal and security guards are sometimes hired. The use of chaperones is intended to prevent the occurrence of violence and alcohol or drug use. Generally after a formal, one or more after-parties are held.
In addition to the high school graduation "formal" that marks the end of Year 12, there is also an event that is sometimes held to celebrate completing the School Certificate at the end of Year 10 (or Year 11 in New Zealand), and always held after receiving Higher School Certificate at the end of Year 12 and includes a dinner and dance. The NSW Government announced the abolition of the School Certificate after 2011, with students in year 10 that year being the final cohort to sit the external examinations and receive the qualification. Subsequent Year 10 "Formals" have been deemed "unnecessary" due to the fact that the majority of Year 10 students now progress to Year 11. In previous years when 25–30% of students left high school in Year 10, the Formal was seen as a celebration for those departing, however Year 10 Formals are still sometimes celebrated in the name of tradition. In year 11, students occasionally organise a "semi-formal" or "social" at the end of the school year, which is a more casual version of a formal. If a school has a sister school the social is typically organised in conjunction with them, as a "social event" for people to mingle and meet new people. The Valedictory Dinner (or Val as it is colloquially called) is an event that only occurs in Year 12. In New Zealand, most state school balls are held in the winter months, between June and August, while in Australia, a "formal" is held at the end of the year to mark the end of schooling, as is the Valedictory Dinner. Due to cultural differences, in New Zealand these 'balls' may be held consistently each year with the appropriate respect, but except for private schools they tend to be far less formal and 'proper' than in the US or Australia.
In American Samoa the typical Junior/Senior prom is held in most of the schools, an exception would be one of the private schools, which lets even 8th graders, freshmen, and sophomores participate in prom.
Central and South America and the Caribbean
In Venezuela, they have prom as well, they call it "graduación" o "fiesta de graduación." It can consist of dancing, dinner and live music.
In Argentina there are "fiestas de egresados" for students finishing their last year of high school. These consist of big parties hosted by the senior students in local discos or other venues, starting at 10 p.m. until about 5 or 6 in the morning. They have dinner with parents and other members of the family, and after midnight friends and other guests join the dance. The parties start in late September, after most students come back from their senior trip to Bariloche and last until early December, after the graduation. The students dress formally.
In Brazil, bailes de formatura are usual at the end of high school and at college graduation. There is no crowning of a "king" or a "queen," but evening gowns and suits are required. Family may or may not be included, and there may be a live band or DJ hired to command the music.
In Chile, proms, or "fiestas de graduación" (graduation parties), are usually held at convention centers or hotels after the "licenciatura," or graduation from High School. They can also be held after taking the PSU (Chilean University Entrance Exam) in December. Students are expected to dress formally. They are allowed to go with dates or friends. After the dinner,the dance continues through the night into the next day.
In Colombia many private schools usually have prom balls as well, usually consisting of a dinner, dancing, live music, and contests. They are usually held at hotels or clubs.
In Costa Rica, like many other American countries, the "Baile de graduación" is celebrated after finishing High School, where grade 11 is also the last year. It usually takes place before graduation to celebrate the end of school. It's normally held in hotels or saloons with a dance floor, music and dinner. It starts with the students walking through the dance floor and dancing a waltz. The dinner comes after, and the rest of the night consists of dancing and celebration.
In Honduras, they are called "Cena de Graduacion", they are held in luxury hotels, also familiars of the graduating students are invited. This event is held only for private schools, the act consists on a formal graduation and deliver of their diplomas, after that, a dinner is held between the graduating students and their familiars or friends in the same room which later will become in a dance floor for everyone.
In Peru, proms—"Fiestas de Promoción"—are usually held at hotels, convention centers, or big residences. The dress code is formal. Some parents and teachers are often invited, but they don't stay the whole night. Dinner is served as well as alcoholic drinks and delicatessen. Breakfast is often served the next day, at around 6–7 am. There is a growing tradition to hold a "Pre-Prom" for the students in the class below the graduating class, and even a "Pre-pre-Prom" for the students in the class below that.
In Mexico, most High Schools and Junior High (Middle School) have proms only allow the graduating class (Seniors) to have a prom, after a Church service for the graduating class. The students dress in Formal wear and attend in couples. Some Colleges have an after Graduation dinner dance.
In Trinidad and Tobago and most Caribbean countries, it is traditional for schools to hold a dance at the end of the CXC/GCE Advanced Level examination period. This is thrown simultaneously for fifth form and upper sixth form students during the months of June or July after the school's official graduation ceremony. It is colloquially referred to as "grad" or "gradz." Most "gradz" are held in popular clubs, hotels, halls or simply on the school's grounds. Most schools allow students to bring dates, and a formal dress code is usually in effect.
In Uruguay, graduation parties are usually held after graduation itself. They may or may be not organised by the school, but by the students itself. Usually a place is rented, and formal parties are held. Students are allowed to take one guest, as a friend or as a partner.
The concept of extending prom to homeschool students has been realized in recent years. Although some school districts in the United States and Canada allow homeschool students to attend the prom in the school district where they reside, many homeschool groups also organize their own proms. Some states, such as Oregon, Georgia, Tennessee, and Michigan, also host statewide homeschool proms, which any homeschool student in that state is welcome to attend.
Proms that are specifically geared toward homeschool students can sometimes be significantly different from traditional high school proms. It is not uncommon for a homeschool student to attend a homeschool prom solo, rather than taking a date. In many cases homeschool proms are very similar to public school proms.
An adult prom is a social event that is almost perfectly similar to a high school prom in terms of themes and attire, except that some adult proms also serve alcoholic beverages, and therefore most adult proms require those attending to be at least 21 years of age.
They have become increasingly common, especially in the United States, and usually are hosted either as fundraisers for charities, or for-profit ventures.
A slightly different take on the adult prom is that of the disabilities prom, dedicated to providing a prom experience to disabled adults at no charge to the attendees. These events are most often organized by non-profit organizations focusing on the disabled, or large churches.
Other prom-themed events
Sometimes, individuals re-create a prom-themed party either for themselves or a friend who didn't get to attend his or her prom.
Drew Barrymore has been known to host "prom parties" on at least two occasions, having once stated in an interview with Conan O'Brien in the late 1990s that she threw one for herself one time because she had always wanted a prom, but didn't get the chance, having not finished high school. In 2007, Barrymore threw a prom-themed birthday party for a close friend who had missed her senior prom.
In 2009, friends, family members, and hospital workers in Atlanta, Georgia re-created a prom for then-senior Raven Johnson, who was in a coma at the time of her original senior prom.
In 2010, Theatrical producers in New York produced an audience participation theatrical play, set in an actual dance hall, called The Awesome 80s Prom, where attendees were at a prom and got to vote on the king and queen from the cast of characters.
Anti-proms and alternative proms
Anti-proms can be private, unofficial proms that are privately created, outside the control of the school, usually by people who disagree with their school's prom policies. Some schools also include the "Anti Prom" as an official event called MORP (Prom spelled backwards). MORP dances can be similar to a Sadie Hawkins dance where the Girls ask a Boy date, informal attire, and the decor can be dark or less elegant reflecting the "anti prom" nature of MORP.
Adult proms for gay and lesbian adults who could not attend their proms with a date of the same sex are popular in some cities. A 1980 court decision required public schools to allow same-sex dates in the United States.
Over the course of history, proms have been the source of many controversies, many of which involve LGBT students.
- In 2002, gay teenager Marc Hall was prohibited from taking his male date to his high school's dance; Hall sued the school board and won.
- In 2009, Tyler Frost was suspended for attending his girlfriend's prom, because his Christian high school disallowed dancing. Although the principal at Frost's school signed a paper allowing Frost to attend the prom, he said Frost would be suspended if he went, but Frost did so anyway.
- In a 2010 Itawamba County School District prom controversy, lesbian high school senior Constance McMillen requested to take her girlfriend to the prom at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Mississippi, where they were both students. The principal denied her request and prohibited her from wearing a tuxedo. When McMillen challenged the school's policy, the prom was canceled, leading McMillen to sue the school. Following a court decision forcing the school to hold the prom, local parents organized a second prom in secret, leaving Constance, her girlfriend and only 5 other students at the official prom.
- In 2014, student Katie Bialy from Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School (St. Catharines) with the genetic condition Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) was not allowed to go to prom by her school principal Denice Robertson because her grades were not as good as required and she could not graduate. Her condition had impaired her ability to do schoolwork and she asked the principal if she could go as a guest, but the principal refused her the option. This incident has resulted in public support for Bialy in social media and also increased awareness of her condition.
In popular culture
|1948||A Date with Judy|
|1990||Book of Love|
|1993||My Boyfriend's Back|
|1985||Back to the Future|
|1986||Pretty in Pink|
|1988||Dance 'til Dawn|
|1999||10 Things I Hate About You|
|Drive Me Crazy|
|Never Been Kissed|
|She's All That|
|2008||Bart Got a Room|
On Documentary films
|2009||Prom Night in Mississippi|
|1990||The Prom||Saved by the Bell|
|1993||A Night to Remember||Beverly Hills, 90210|
|1996||The One with the Prom Video||Friends|
|1998||Fools Rush Out in Party of Five||Party of Five|
|1999||The Prom||Buffy the Vampire Slayer|
|2006||Best Prom Ever||How I Met Your Mother|
|The Party Favor||The O.C.|
|Look Who's Stalking||Veronica Mars|
|2007||Prom Night at Hater High||One Tree Hill|
|2008||We Built This City||Degrassi: The Next Generation|
|I've Had the Time of My Life||Kyle XY|
|2009||Valley Girls||Gossip Girl|
|2008||The Prom Before the Storm||90210|
|1958||A Date With Jerry||Wanda Jackson|
|1990||Promnight in Pigtown||John Gorka|
|2009||Plain Jane||B.J. Thomas|
- Mark, Mary Ellen, Prom, Getty Publications, Los Angeles, 2012. ISBN 978-1-60606-108-4.
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- "Hudson High Prom Court Nominations". Retrieved 2012-09-18.
- "Nominations Should be Based Upon More than Popularity". Retrieved 2013-02-25.
- http://glendalehigh.com/images09/prom-court-IMG_7356.jpg |accessdate=2013-05-15
- Jackie Blount (2005). Fit to Teach:Same Sex Desire, Gender, and School Work in the Twentieth Century. p. 81.
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- Pyke, Nicholas; Bloomfield, Steve (2004-07-11). "The high school prom arrives in UK (via stretch limo, naturally)". The Independent. London.
- Williams, Sally (2012-08-10). "Fairytale ending: the rise of the British prom". The Telegraph. London.
- "Un bal de promo solidaire". leparisien.fr. 27 June 2013.
- "Qui sommes nous?". Donnons leur une chance.
- "Swiss Teens Celebrate Spring With 'Bal de Printemps'". Ypulse. 2009-04-28. Retrieved 2010-03-29.
- "Home-school prom attracts teens from across Oregon". The Oregonian. 2012-05-19.
- See, for example, "Shine", a prom of this type organized by Southeast Christian Church in Middletown, Kentucky.
- AskMen.com Editors. "Drew Barrymore's prom party". AskMen.com. Retrieved 2010-03-29.
- "Girl gets second chance to attend prom". turnto10.com. 2009-05-20. Retrieved 2010-03-29.
- "The Awesome 80s Prom New York City.com : Broadway Tickets : Editorial Review". Nyc.com. Retrieved 2010-03-29.
- "Gays, lesbians recreate prom at weekend fete". MSNBC. 2009-03-07. Retrieved 2010-03-29.
- "CBC News – Gay teen wins fight over Catholic prom". Cbc.ca. 2002-05-22. Retrieved 2010-03-29.
- "Teen suspended for going to girlfriend's prom". MSNBC. 2009-05-11. Retrieved 2010-03-29.
- Joyner, Chris (2010-03-22). "Lesbian gets day in court over nixed prom". Usatoday.Com. Retrieved 2010-03-29.
- "McMillen: I Was Sent to Fake Prom". Advocate.Com. 2010-04-05. Retrieved 2010-04-06.
- Pom, Cindy. "'It wasn't fair': Why an Ontario school isn't letting a sick girl go to prom". Global News.