The History of Prom

Cameron Christopher, Staff Reporter

Prom hasn’t always been celebrated the way it is today, prom actually originated as a Debutante’s Ball. This ball would introduce young women into the dating society. Young women would be dressed in white gowns and white gloves which resembled their purity entering the dating world. This dance originated in colleges and universities that later was introduced to high schools.

“Prom remains alive in American culture today and has expanded among other countries with another name, but prom is much older than you think…”

— Nazy Rafaeil

Not everyone could attend the infamous Debutante Ball. Invitations were slim and only given to wealthy white families. During the early years of this tradition, only wealthy white families were allowed to attend, due to segregation of the schools holding the ball.

In the 1950s, things shifted in the ‘Prom’ scene. The Debutante Ball started to dissolve and dances similar to today’s Prom started to steal the scene. After the Great Depression, families gained more wealth, which made the Prom scene more accessible to those who weren’t able to afford the Debutante Ball.

Starting in the media, Prom changed again. In the 1980’s, these tea party like dances became less popular due to the media’s glamorized idea of Prom. It became more focused on popularity after the Debutante Ball dissolved. The media was the main cause of the shift of view to the Prom Court. Movies like Pretty in Pink and She’s All That, influenced the idea that the Prom King and Queen should be idolized.

The main difference now is that we are aware of the misconceptions of Prom, yet the scene has evolved back into a night based on wealth. The Prom locations have moved from the high school gymnasium to more extravagant locations off school grounds. Prom has become about winning Prom Court, traveling in fancy cars, and being the ‘best’ dressed.