In Kansas, April not only means the beginning of storm season, but it also marks the start of a possibly even more chaotic season: prom season. While some schools have already hosted proms, others, like my school, have their dances set to take place in the coming weeks. Here are some tips to help you deal with the stress of preparing for the most important school dance of the year. (Underclassmen: although this may not seem important to you now, take notes, because next year you may well be an unprepared procrastinator in need of advice.)
1. Do not forget the corsage/boutonniere.
During my freshman year, I made the mistake of forgetting to buy a corsage for my date to our school’s sweetheart dance. Needless to say, she was not pleased. But if you’re like me, and you forget to order one of these tiny flower arrangements, do not stress! Practically every Dillons grocery store has a floral department with corsages and boutonnieres ready for last-minute promgoers.
2. Take photos early.
On prom nights, places like Bradley Fair and Old Town turn into scenes from “The Hunger Games.” Prom groups race to the most scenic spots for picture-taking while their parents follow closely behind, wielding cameras and iPhones. If you’re looking to circumvent this pandemonium, be sure to take your prom photos early in the night. That way, you can beat the crowds and you don’t have to worry about arriving late for your dinner reservations.
3. Think outside the box for your dinner plans.
While big chain restaurants are classic spots for pre-prom dinners, some of my most memorable dance experiences have taken place in locally owned restaurants. For example, eateries such as Wasabi and Bella Luna not only offer delicious food, but they also provide welcoming, pleasurable settings for your prom-night meal. In addition, local restaurants are less likely to be packed to the brim with other prom groups. If you want to dodge reservations and restaurants altogether, you could have a potluck dinner at a friend’s house and everyone could bring a dish. And if on the night of prom, you realize you forgot to set dinner plans, you could always order takeout and have a relaxing evening with friends before heading to the dance.
Although everyone’s dream vehicle for prom is a limousine, let’s face it – they’re pretty expensive and, unless you rent one well in advance, all the limo companies are likely to be booked for the night of your prom. A more feasible and equally enjoyable mode of transportation is carpooling. In addition to being environmentally friendly, this ensures that no one will get lost and that everyone in your group will arrive on time. Last year, my date and I carpooled to prom with some of our friends, and we found the experience to be convenient and fun. However, our reasoning for doing so was slightly different: since I was a sophomore, I was not old enough to legally drive my date.
5. Arrive fashionably late.
The beginning is never the best part of any school dance. For the first 30 minutes, prom consists of a bunch of students awkwardly mingling while music plays quietly in the background. The party doesn’t really start until at least half an hour into the dance. I would suggest arriving about 30 minutes after it starts. You avoid the awkwardness, but you don’t miss too much dancing.
6. Dance like no one is watching.
One of the worst things that can happen at a school dance is that no one dances. Sure, prom dresses and tuxedos are not the most conducive to dancing. And you probably feel obligated to get a photo with all of your friends so that you have a picture to include in “happy birthday” tweets. But the best way to have a memorable prom night is to go crazy on the dance floor. No one is going to remember if you completely embarrass yourself, and, quite frankly, why should you care if they do? This is your night. You have been trapped in a school almost every weekday since August. You deserve to have the best night of your life.
7. Don’t worry about everything going according to plan.
You are bound to encounter a few obstacles that seem destined to keep you from having a good prom (from thunderstorms to lost dinner reservations to forgotten prom tickets), but don’t let these ruin your evening. Prom night will not be perfect. In fact, it may suck. But hey, it’s not the end of the world. Just think: prom catastrophes are exactly the type of stories that will make everyone burst out laughing at high school reunions when you’re 40.
The Wichita Eagle’s TeenTalk board is made up of teens who write columns and features for The Eagle. Nathan Hostert attends Kapaun Mount Carmel High School. Reach the writers c/o email@example.com.