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Prom History and why it is Such an Important Social Event

Posted on July 3, 2018 in Education Education News Public Education

Every year toward the end of school, high school students prepare for a big social event called the prom. They wear fancy clothing, rent limousines and spend lots of money going out to eat. Afterwards they might attend a party or get together at a friend’s house.

Proms are a big deal for many American high school students. They represent a right of passage for these young people. Proms are also important because they introduce young people to the importance of formal events. Let’s take a look at the history of the prom and how this cultural affair evolved throughout the years.

An article was featured in the Huffington Post about the prom. In this particular article it stated that the prom has its origin in a former social event known as the promenade. A promenade was a classical music concert that took place during the 1800s where concert goers would walk and stroll around while the music was playing.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s the protocols or modern formal events were being established. The promenade was often used at these formal occasions. Guests at early formal dances would be paraded around the room before the actual event would begin. Balls and formal dances were now becoming a mainstay within American culture. They started to take on a life of their own. People during the late 19th and early 20th centuries began to really promote formal gatherings and events.

Most formal gatherings were for the upper class members of society. When proms were first held, they were hosted on college campuses at premiere universities. From the early 1900s to about 1930s proms slowly made their way down to the high school level. By the early 1940s proms were a regular part of the high school culture.

During the 1950s proms became very popular. However, they started to lose favor in the 60s and 70s. People started to get back into the proms again during the 80s. The 90s and 2000s proms were just common social events for high school students. In the 2010s proms are fun gatherings where people interact online and in person during the event. Ultimately, the prom helps many American teens to realize they are no longer young kids but are now ready to enter the adult phase of life.