Wednesday 3 July 2013

Notes on a British Prom

It's too much for a writer staring at blank paper; even worse when it's e-paper. I thought about selling out and making a journal entry post, but once you do that you get sucked into doing it every month or even every week, which comes with a presumption from the internet that I do things that often. Maybe doing such every month makes you grab life by the horns just so your readers aren't reading about how proud you are of completing that sudoku in record time; although I'm not buying it. 

Thing is I got half way through that journal post and found the only thing I was journaling about was my school prom. Problem solved. So here's a tone of rambling thoughts on a night that was billed to me as one of the most important nights of my student life; a hyperbole I'm still trying to decipher:
  • Holy fuck did people hype this baby up. I didn't buy into it much, it was just something else happening, like global warming and stock market plummets. It wasn't until the day before I noticed it was all happening to me. I dreaded it until I got there; after that there was no chance all night to actually let dread sink in. 
  • If there is any yanks reading then the one thing that differentiates your proms from ours is that parents over here are the most excited ones. No mental breakdowns, or even positivity from the people my age; I wish I could say the same for my parents. Having my parents boss me around trying to get me in suitable shape for the big night was the low point of the whole day. Cramming "it was all for your own good" shit down my throat the day after, yeah right. 
  • I arrived at my friends house first; he sorted out a coach months ago to come pick us all up (all 35 of us) and take us down to St. James, the most swarve venue our school could get together. Fun seeing my friends and random acquittance's that despite 5 years at the same school I still don't know the names of. Annoying that it all took place while standing in my friend's garden for half an hour while lots of parents (none of which were mine) stood around taking photos of us in our prom attire. The coach eventually turned up (a little early actually, so well done to whichever company it was) unfortunately there wasn't enough seats; causing obvious problems. Luckily the coach driver foresaw those problems and sent a taxi to pick up the six of us who didn't have places. Good that I went on, it was a funny ride with us all bunched up together, probably more fun than a bus full of isolated pairs not communicating. 
  • So we got to the prom. I'm 16 which I gather is younger than when Americans have prom, which is annoying because you'd think if we steal it from another country we'd at least be able to do it right. Fun night, not really a prom just a school disco. Lots of flashing lights which had little effect on the back of the dance floor which is where me and my friends set camp for most of the night. At least we danced, not like the people sat directly behind us who sat their from start to finish. 
  • I must note: I'm no dancer. I can't do shit with my legs, and the only reason I was so happy to get up and showcase the moves was because it was of that level of darkness in the room that even though everyone can see everyone we all accept that it's dark and it doesn't matter what anyone else is doing.
  • The songs were good; nothing I would listen to on my own, but I knew that going in. I expect in America there's at least one slow song; the lovey-dovey one that's built up to all night and depending on your romantic situation either brings you excitement or dread. Nothing close here. Everything was a rave up. It was all plain mainstream stuff, a few older hits but nothing surprising, which is a shame because the songs were chosen by request. I wouldn't bother giving a request but if I was forced at gun point I'd have gone for Blue Monday by New Order, simply because although it's a disco tune I wonder if the people there would have liked it, certainly not a soul would have heard of it. They had Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke; it was the first time I heard it despite it being number one in the charts for the last few weeks. Good to dance to, and better to do a group sing-along to, although I tried playing it the next day in the comfort of my own home and found the experience hadn't changed my musical preferences whatsoever. Not a bad song, but nothing special, and the line "You wanna hug me Hey, hey, hey What rhymes with hug me?" flies very close to my danger zone. 
  • The only song that threw everything into total chaos was I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor by Arctic Monkeys, which came as a pleasant surprise. Everyone had their arms in the and just kept moving forward; all the better if there was people in front. As far as our side of the dance floor went there was no accidents, but the whole room did go into total anarchy, which is exactly what it should be like. 
  • The school did a pretty good job of the venue; probably because the school stayed out of it as much as they could. Their only part in the whole night was the awards, which for whatever reason happened half way through the night. Didn't win any; they were all things like "most likely to be James Bond" and "most likely to be injured while dancing" all leading up to prom king and queen, which were given out separately but went to two who were actually dating. 
  • As for drinks and shit there was no booze. There was a bar that served coke and fizzies, but it was all a little on the pricey side. I got one coke for the whole night and no food. They were serving it and as far as I know it was free, I just didn't feel like it. Surely large quantities of food plus hours upon hours of non-stop vigorous dancing can't lead to much good. I did try some cake because the girl I was sitting next to couldn't tell what it was (which is a clue to the kind of off-the-counter niche bullshit they were feeding us) who also happened to be the same girl who had me and a friend running around collecting her food and drink. I got the liquids, he got the solids. The problem was there wasn't enough hateful energy in the air that night to make either of us tell her to "fuck off", not even sarcastically, anyways I kinda like that chick. 
  • At the beginning of the night the screens dotted round the room had slide shows of everyone's school photos from five years ago; our first year in high school. I hated it to be honest, I hate photos of myself more than famine and aids. Then the photos ended and it was just a screen showing someone trying to log off of windows xp very quickly, all very Portal 2 y'know; breaking the illusion and all. 
  • There was no big ceremony of an ending; it ended and we left. I don't know what happened to everyone on our coach because there was enough seats for everyone (and spares) with no taxi mentioned. I didn't see anyone left behind but it wouldn't surprise me. For all I know those bastards are still stuck there, living off a horribly overpriced mini-bar and free meals which consist of plain-looking sandwiches and unceremonious cake. 
And that was my year 11 prom. I'll have another one when I come to the end of sixth form in year 13, and for all the kerfuffle whirling around this one I'm told the year 13 prom is the one that's actually "important" a term that is hard to place on either. It was a good right, although no rite of passage, it was just a lot of fun with friends (because lets face it; no one ventured out of their self-made group all night) although it wasn't a big send off to the years and to the people we'll never see again, because we all had that with a leavers assembly on the last day of school.

And to be honest that's what I liked about it. Everyone had the grandiose image that American culture has put in our heads of prom. I went in expecting American Pie. It was good that it wasn't made into a big deal. Prom's still fairly new here, my parents didn't even have prom (probably the reason for their misplaced excitement) yet it isn't at all like the American prom. I suppose I prefered the fact I didn't have to face up to my future or grow up all on Friday night.

1 comment:

  1. I always found us adopting the American prom tradition quite odd. Maybe it's from all of the films, books, music videos, other bits of pop culture I've devoured over the years that depict prom in a specific way in American society that I just don't get.

    Honestly surprised that no one smuggled in booze/crappy drugs, I'd imagine it is hard enough to go through that torturous ordeal of having to speak to people in your class or their parents you universally dislike, let alone surviving without being intoxicated in some way or another.

    I never saw the hype of it, either. I felt like I was forced by my small friend group to go, went out to buy a dress and everything (one I've never worn to this day, four years later) and ended up having that womanly time of the month thing, so it was rather convenient. (God must have been looking down on me that day.)

    Turns out, the friends that were going to come with me missed the boat (yes it was a boat party 'prom') and I really didn't miss out on anything. Word on the grape vein was that it was shit. Looking at the photos back then, it was the first time in my life I was thankful for nature taking its course.

    Loving your blog, by the way. Some hilarious writing going on. Definitely getting a follow from me.