by Terri Winder
One would think that Valentine’s Day presents the most perfect theme from which to issue a prom invitation.
Yeah, right; maybe in the olden days. Or, this year, for the procrastinators.
I know someone at San Juan High School who wrapped his request for a prom date inside a large gift box and placed it beneath the intended girl’s family Christmas tree.
And he isn’t the first in the junior class to ask, either. The first young man secured his date eleven weeks before the event. I know of courtships that haven’t lasted that long.
Obviously, San Juan High School is holding prom rather early this year: March 2 to be exact. I’m not sure who decided this day or what they based it on.
Even though Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring, March 2 is only two days past February, and that’s a cold month in anyone’s book.
As I took my daughter prom dress shopping both “down south” (where all of the dresses are strapless) and then “up north” (where we are more likely to find sleeves), we were asked repeatedly, “Where are you from?” like we are really weird to have prom so early. As well as looking for a dress with sleeves, we should have shopped for a matching coat.
Many of the store clerks told us they would be getting their prom dress shipments in another month or so.
You may not believe this, but we were told there are no orders sent or shipments received in the month before the Chinese New Year, as clothing factories are busy with preparations for that event. Does that tell you where most of the dresses come from?
The word prom comes from promenade (a walk in a public place, to be seen), and the high schools in San Juan County are lucky to maintain the tradition of a promenade. Most high schools have too large a population to allow it.
Here, promenade refers to a special choreographed dance, held mid-way through the prom. It allows the couples to circle the dance floor, so everyone can see them and admire the girls’ dresses.
In Blanding, the girls generally ask the guys to be their promenade dance partner. Often, it’s a different young man than their prom date, which makes the night more fun: two dates in one.
This year, the San Juan High School prom theme is “Tonight’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories.” The gym will be transformed to look like a park in Paris. The promenade dance song is “I’ll Be” which begins, “The strands in your eyes that color them wonderful stop me and steal my breath”, which is something the junior girls probably hope their dates will think, though it could get awkward if any of the guys actually said that aloud.
Historically, the first time the word “prom” was used in popular literature was the late 1800’s. The event became the middle class impersonation of the debutante balls of the wealthy. The purpose was the same: parents set up formal dances as a means of instilling social skills and etiquette in their children.
This year, the juniors at San Juan High School are initiating what may become a new tradition: a catered dinner for all of the juniors and their dates.
Tickets will be sold for just the promenade, the entire dance, or the dinner and dance. Having the dinner not only provides more practice in the social skills and etiquette department, it also gives the class a common activity.
Prom is a coming of age event that truly transforms into “Tomorrow’s Memories”. Despite the fact there will be a lot of cold shoulders this year, hopefully all the memories will be warm.