The high school prom phenomena, originally from the USA, is now a prominent feature in many UK high schools. This cultural exchange flows naturally from US shows such as ‘Hannah Montana’, and movies such as ‘High School Musical.’ It’s a big occasion – big party – big dresses – big cars.
The first mention of a prom in the USA was way back in 1894, and took place between two colleges. It grew in popularity with other colleges and universities and spread to American high schools in the 1930s. By the 1950s, it was in full swing for the majority of American high schools.
In the UK, the high school leaving dance used to be held in the school hall or gym with a disc jockey or a live band to supply the music. However, since the new millennium, the US-style high school prom has taken over and is enjoyed in 85% of UK high schools. Young men buy new suits and ties to look their best for their dates. For young ladies, it’s all about the dress such as stylish maxi dresses, shoes, hairstyle, make-up, and jewelry.
The word ‘prom’ is the shortened form of ‘promenade.’ The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines the word as ‘a walk you take for pleasure or exercise, especially by the sea, in a public park, etc.’. It’s a showy affair that includes the displaying of stylish clothes, and a chariot to match. The chauffeur-driven stretch limousine being a classic favourite.
The prom is a form of a rite of passage. In keeping with other rituals, it has its special clothes, dancing, and the crowning of the king and queen of the prom. This last ritual is not as popular in the UK as in the US, but it does take place in some schools. The criteria may be different, with the UK choosing those who have contributed most to the school community, or done charitable work.
The school prom is a great way to wave goodbye to former pupils. and to give them a reward for all their hard work in completing their exams. It’s a chance for friends to enjoy themselves before moving on to colleges or universities.