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Teenagers are not well known for being formal. They are better known for their artistry on bathroom walls and driving down residential streets at two in the morning with their windows down and the stereo up.
How is it that this school-sanctioned event causes nearly the entire junior and senior class to don tuxedos and slow dance to “Buy You a Drank?” First let us analyze this annual high school dance.
Prom, short for “promenade,” is a dance held toward the end of the school year at high schools across the country. Teenagers gather this one night for dancing, talking and wholesome, heavily supervised merriment.
Local police are vigilant, feeling more at ease knowing that the majority of the town’s troublemakers are collected in one place, while at the same time on edge because the entire town’s population of teenage drivers will be out and about at midnight and later.
The night starts off with boys in a rainbow of tuxedos and girls in a variety of long and much too short dresses running around the town’s most scenic places.
Parents are running around as well, trying to capture this moment for their daughters/sons, because God knows they are not getting dressed up like that again until they are married.
Once the pictures are taken and the parents are thoroughly prepared to leave their children alone until 4 a.m., the kids go off to dinner at whatever fancy restaurant , where they made reservations.
At this point, teens are becoming annoyed that they are dressed this way.
“How are you supposed to eat when your diaphragm is being crushed by the corset-like device on today’s dresses?” girls ask. “How are you supposed to eat when your date is slowly dying from asphyxiation?” boys ask.
“What is the occasion?” the waitress, waiters, people sitting at the next table and the entire crowd waiting to be seated by the door ask. Everyone notices because it’s not normal for teenagers to look so dapper.
This is a very sad truth. Teens rarely dress well it seems and maybe it’s because more of them need to read the Fashion Maven’s column. But whatever the reason, pants belted at the knees and ill-fitting T-shirts have become the norm.
In the end, prom is a formal dance because it has always been a formal dance.
Tradition has a way of making people do things for a very long time for no reason other than that it has always been done. But no one has complained so far, have they? We high school students look good all dressed up.
You shouldn’t ask why prom is a formal event. You should ask why every event isn’t formal.