Anatomy of the prom: What is it about? |

Anatomy of the prom: What is it about?

Anatomy of the prom: What is it about?

The prom is held annually to celebrate the completion of high school. It usually takes place in May. In some schools, there is a junior (after grade 11) and a senior prom (after grade 12). In others, it is only held at the end of twelfth grad.

It consists of the following elements:

The Buildup

  • Check out teen magazines in March and April and you will find articles about various aspects of the prom: hairstyles, dresses, limousines, teens sharing their prom experiences etc.
  • In a number of high schools, build up to the prom begins in September. There is often a prom committee, which is responsible for fundraising for the event and organizing it. This is done in consultation with teachers and the principal.
  • A number of television show, especially those aimed at teens and families, make the event a focus of at least one episode around prom time.

The Preparation

  • Planning for the Prom begins well in advance. Shadi Sakr, 23, was on his high school prom committee, but later decided to leave, and did not attend the event either. "The whole year, people were getting their licenses, deciding on what clothes they wanted to wear, reserving their appointments six months in advance for the hair salon," he says.
  • Proms are not cheap. They generally range from $400 to $3,000 per person
  • Costs involve: tickets for the actual prom dinner sponsored by the school; for girls, fancy dresses; for boys, renting a tuxedo; the actual banquet; renting a hotel room; renting a limousine or other expensive car; beauty salon for girls to get their make up done and the after-prom party.
  • In some places, there is almost an entire day devoted to pre-prom preparation, with a party to commemorate the event.
  • In most cases, it is expected that teens will go with a date. Boys usually ask girls for a date to the prom in advance of the event. "I didn't go to the graduation or the prom because I had just started practicing [Islam]," says Ali Shayan, 21, of Ottawa, Canada. "The fact that there was alcohol and you had to go with a date, because of those reasons I didn't want to go," he adds.

The dinner

  • This is the part of the prom which is sponsored by the school. It is usually a dinner, followed by mixed-sex dancing all under the supervision of teachers or other chaperones. Alcohol is usually not served here, since they most youth may not legally be allowed to buy or be sold alcohol until age 18 or more, depending on local laws.

The after-party

  • This is the party following the above-mentioned dinner. This is where the sex, drugs and rockn' roll aspect of the prom becomes most evident. There is almost never any adult supervision. The party can be held at the home of a graduating student whose parents are not present, in a club, or in the hotel where the above-mentioned dinner was held.

Other notes

  • Sex: a number of graduating students decide prom night is the night to lose their virginity. This applies to both young men and women. Hotel rooms are often rented for this specific purpose.
  • Drugs: these are not hard to find and it is not uncommon to find marijuana, for instance, being smoked and passed around freely.
  • Alcohol is easily available and has led not only to embarrassing moments for a number of teens, but death with incidents of drinking and driving. Alcohol is usually more likely to be consumed during the after party, since there is no adult supervision.
  • Dress code: in general, while boys are covered from neck to foot in tuxedos, it is socially expected for girls to dress in formal evening gowns. Take a look at some magazines featuring prom dresses and this will give you a good idea of what most of these clothes are like: plunging necklines, tight-fitting, short, or long dresses with a large slit which reveals most of the legs.
  • Entertainment: Rock songs which have been popular that specific year, romantic ballads, and mixed sex dancing are the main forms of entertainment at the prom, including the school sponsored dinner.
  • What do adults do about the after prom party activities: According to Khalid Griggs, Imam of The Community Mosque of Winston-Salem in North Carolina, you find that the local hotel and motel operators rent rooms to 16, 17 and 18-year-olds knowing that they should be below the age of renting rooms. So there's a tacit kind of approval and even cooperation on the part of local merchants to loosen the normal restraints on the sale of alcohol, the renting of hotel rooms, those things in particular.


I disagree about the sex, drugs and alcohol. Many schools' proms are highly controlled and parents are vigilant as well. Students go to and return from the prom on approved buses and students are watched like eagles for any inappropriate activities. This may not be true everywhere, but increasingly it is the case.


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