The humble rise of the Prom June 22 2014
It is the season of Proms, when school kids celebrate their last senior year, the girls get to dress in gorgeous flowy dresses and the boys get suited and booted. Over the weekend, I went to wave my niece Olivia and her friends off to their Prom in a vintage bus.
The bus was privately owned and its proud owner gave me a brief history and let me on board to see its original leather and fabric interior with bunting hung inside, it really was adorable. The bus was lovingly made in 1954 and was originally with the Aldershot & District Traction Co Ltd for the London link.
As we ate canapés, chocolate strawberries all washed down with Shloer, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters all got snap happy in taking photos of the excited group of friends.
But how did Proms get started? When I left school, they just had a Leaver's Disco, in fact, our year were so bad, the school opted not to have a Leavers Disco for us!! I also think it may have had something to do with fact that there was a teachers strike going on as well not just we were the naughtiest year in the school!!
Virtually unheard of 15 years ago in the UK, Proms are now the highlight of the school leaver's year, where pupils look forward and start planning their big day way in advance.
So where did it all start? Prom's started across the pond in the US, it was an event to bring together people from all financial standings and heritage. Ever see the film "Pretty in Pink"? If you have, you get the idea!
The word “Prom” comes from the French word, "Promenade", which means "walk" or "stroll". Early in the Twentieth century, it was considered inappropriate to dance with men that you were not married to so the girls would take short and heavily-chaperoned promenades around the block with their dates.
In the 1930s and 40s "Prom" stories of good and bad memories were published by school papers and were taken seriously. By the 1950s and 60s Proms had moved from school gyms to fancy ballrooms with heavy competition for the titles of Prom King and Queen becoming a popularity contest, usually going to the best looking and best dressed couple.
In 1963, President John F Kennedy had to cancel a fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton because the hotel double-booked a school Prom. The Hilton tried to cancel the Prom but luckily for the Senior Highs, the President cancelled his event!
In 1975, President Gerald Ford’s daughter, Susan, got to have her prom at the White House. No stinky old school gym for her!
Today, parents from the US and UK alike complain that Prom's have become expensive and more of a competition of who has spent the most as much as it is a show for the kids. Yes, it can be expensive if you let it but you can buy a Prom outfit fairly cheaply if you shop, around and look no different to someone who has spent a small fortune. It's not necessarily how much you spend but how you wear it.
All in all, the Prom is a wonderful night, for boys and girls to dress up and celebrate the end of their exams and the end of their school years with friends who they have shared so many laughs, tears and experiences with. And as the girls and boys are teetering on the edge of adulthood, the Prom will hopefully, be a night remember.