For a few weeks now we have been having ‘Prom’ fever in the U.S., well promoted and covered on TV channels. Prom is nothing more than the modern version of farewell party for school leaving senior students, organized by their juniors in the past. In our school, especially, - D.A.V. High School Lahore - it used to be the biggest and the most anticipated event of the year. Juniors would contribute liberally and the school management would not lack behind in supporting them to see that the farewell function was, indeed, the first class and far better than any other school ever organised. Senior students would be treated like ‘baratis’ in a big fat wedding, entertained with well applauded variety show staged by the surprise talents amongst the juniors followed by a farewell speech by the Headmaster which would be most memorable and work like a guiding light for leading a good life after we left school. The function concluded with a lavish lunch cooked by the best ‘halwais’ we could have in Lahore with cuisine consisting of most expensive and exclusive dishes that the highest of the high society would envy, and the ‘memories sake’ gifts given to the students leaving the school to pursue higher studies in country’s colleges and universities, that included an enlarged copy of the group photograph of each section of school leaving class taken a few days earlier by the best photo studio in the city.
That was then, the old fashioned farewell to school leaving students on completing their schooling, now the modern version popularly known as prom parties, particularly in the U.S.:
In the United States, and increasingly in the United Kingdom and Canada, prom is a semi-formal (black tie) dance or gathering of high school students. This event is typically held near the end of the senior year (the last year of high school). Proms figure greatly in popular culture and is a major event among high school students, an annual class banquet where students wore party clothes and danced afterward. Extravagant and elaborate, prom balls have gradually moved from school halls to hotel ballrooms and country clubs. Competition blossomed, as teens strove to have the best dress, the best mode of transportation, and the best looking date. Boys usually dress in black or white formal wear, regardless of the time of the event, sometimes paired with brightly colored ties or bow ties with vests, in some cases in colors matching their date’s dress. Most are rented from stores that specialize in formal wear rentals. Girls wear traditional ladies' dresses or evening gowns and adorn themselves with ladies’ costume jewellery such as earrings and a necklace. Traditionally girls wear perfume, and makeup such as eyeshadow, lipstick and blush. Before prom, girls typically get their hair styled, often in groups as a social activity at a salon. Prom couples then gather at a park, garden, or their own and their dates’ houses for single and/or group photographs. Prom attendees may rent limousines to transport groups of friends from their homes to the prom venue. The dance itself may have a band or DJ. At prom, a meal may be served. In a way, prom has become the pinnacle event of a high school student’s life, the ultimate dress rehearsal for a wedding. Popular movies and novels attest to the importance of prom themes, prom dates, and prom queens. In 1975 U.S. First Daughter Susan Ford held her prom in the East Room of the White House.
Day by day, prom parties have become very expensive from parents’ perspective, especially of the girl participants. Here is a typical example of prom party dress bought by our neighbor and very good friend for their daughter, as narrated by her: “I spotted my dream dress in the window of bridal shop at Broadway, Millbrae. It was £1,500 and I started crying when I tried it on, it was so lovely. My mum had tears in her eyes. The owner gave us a discount, but I think Mum would have bought it regardless. She likes dressing me up as a princess. I am very grateful that my parents could afford it.” I was reminded of the ever popular film “Father of the Bride”, wherein the father becomes a broke because of the over expensive wedding of his daughter.
Prom fever over and the U.S. is now under the grip of “Graduation Day” addresses at the universities, far more gripping than the same old election speeches the channels are churning out whole day. Here is a link to one of such speeches, as an example. This was the Harvard school of education graduation speech by a student this year: