From Academic Kids

This article relates to the formal social event known as the Prom (short for "promenade"), usually at the end of the last two school years in America. For the popular music festival held annually in London England, see "The Proms".

In the United States, a prom is a formal dance held at the end of the second-to-last and last years of high school, called junior prom and senior prom respectively. In British English and Australian English such an event would be called a ball, although in Australian government schools, Canada and in New Zealand it is also often called a formal. In the U.S. a "formal" is typically a similar dance that is held by a fraternity or sorority affiliated with a certain college or university. In Australia, the term "prom" has also come into sparse usage and in Britain it is becoming widespread, because of US influence.

A few hours before arriving to prom, there is usually a "pre-prom" where a group of students and their parents, family members, and friends take pictures and get ready prior to when their form of transportation (sometimes a rented limousine, other times driven by a parent) arrives to bring them to prom.

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A typical pre-prom gathering, with boys in tuxedos and girls in dresses with corsages.

Boys are usually dressed in tuxedos with bowties, sometimes with brightly colored cummerbunds or vests, though any sort of formal wear can be worn. Girls usually wear formal gowns or dresses adorned with a corsage given them by their date, and often dress to shock or be noticed in low cut dresses, shiny or brightly colored fabrics, unusual cuts, or formal pants outfits. Often times, boys and girls will dress according to the theme of the prom - i.e. pastel suits for a Miami Vice-themed prom.

Common prom activities include dining, dancing, and socializing. In some cases, high school students accumulate funds for their class prom through fundraisers over the four years they attend their high school. High schools near large cities may rent ballrooms at expensive hotels or, to be unusual, venues such as a pleasure cruise boat. Many students group together to take limousines to their proms. Often costs are cut by using the school gym, which challenges the decorating committee to somehow mask the gym odor and drab surfaces. Rock music and hip hop are commonly played.

The prom night is laden with significance and anxiety to many students about being invited, finding a date, what to wear, how much to spend, how to find the money, and whether to drink alcohol, take illicit drugs, or engage in sexual relations on the night of this pinnacle event. Disillusionment with these aspects of prom night have led some groups of students to hold alternative events called anti-proms. On the other hand, some high school students feel the prom is the most romantic night of their lives. They may go in a group that includes a person they have known for years; other times, students just try to find a date that they like. Many find it to be just as fun to attend with friends, not worrying about the dating aspect of the prom. Because of the age of the attendees, parents, teachers, or others usually act as chaperones for the prom and after-prom activities. The use of chaperones is intended to prevent the occurrence of violence or alcohol/drug abuse.

Some universities and colleges have proms as well, depending on the size of the graduating class in a faculty or department.

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