Dance Culture on the Close
By Yara Sigvaldason '20
Ah, the start of a new school year-a time when the possibility of getting one’s act together still seems plausible and the idea of getting more than 6 hours of sleep a night doesn’t seem completely unfamiliar. What people may not start talking about at the beginning of the year, but is on most people’s radar, is the fact that STA Homecoming is only a few weeks away. Especially for incoming freshmen, the prospect of needing to engage in one-on-one interaction with a member from across the close in order to secure a date can seem rather daunting. I think it is fairly obvious to members of both communities that pairing people up as dates will almost always have negative repercussions; someone won’t get asked but all their friends will, 2 (or more people) want to ask the same person, your date’s friend group doesn’t line up with yours resulting in a dinner with the most awkward combination of people ever. All these scenarios inevitably result in someone’s feelings being hurt-not to mention, they give very little room for anyone who doesn’t identify as heterosexual to get a date in a manner that corresponds to their sexual orientation.
However, I think the biggest contributor to stress concerning school dances lies in the incredibly high expectations we have for them. I can’t speak for the STA community, but I know students at NCS will spend a few hundred dollars on just one dance. While this often isn’t intentional, I mean buying virtually any dress along with booking a Drybar appointment is already at least $100, I believe all this money spent combined with the generous effort and time we put into getting ready subconsciously gets our hopes up that this dance will truly be a night to remember.
I also believe that one reason students are willing to put in so much effort into these dances is because they’re one of the few opportunities we get every year to be normal high school kids. Both NCS and STA have rigorous workloads that often encourage their students to sacrifice having fun for precious time to finish up an assignment or to add on another extracurricular to their already busy schedules. As a result, these school dances are often one of the only non-academic events the majority of the student body at both institutions actually attends together. This perpetuates somewhat of an “all-or-nothing” mindset, this is your chance to interact with a large amount of people from the other school in a supposedly “fun” atmosphere-so you kind of have to go all out.
What I can safely deduce from the last 3 years I have spent on the close and the wonderful school functions I have attended along the way is that they almost never live up to the expectations that are built around them. Now this doesn’t mean that you should automatically give up and refuse to attend any school dances, I’m just encouraging you to take a reality check while you’re having fun getting ready with your friends (which often ends up being the highlight of the night) to realize that school dances are what you make of them. You can go in with sky-high expectations that you will meet the love of your life or you can realize that dancing with your friends and having a chance to take a break from school-related stress is much more valuable and, obviously, much more realistic. I can’t do much about the venue, the music we don’t recognize, or the teachers watching our every move, but I can offer you one piece of advice: no matter how much sweat is raining onto you (and I do mean literally raining onto you) from people you don’t know and whose hygiene you question-don’t sweat it. Take the night as a chance to let go and to have fun with your friends, you’re only going to be around them for four more years and you’d be amazed at how fast that time goes by.
11/7/2019 04:26:32 pm
I thought you might be interested in a short story by Jean Shepherd that I recently reread called "Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories" from an anthology by the same name. It recounts his memory of his high school Junior Prom. Although it took place about 80 years ago, and is told from the boy's perspective, a girl can relate as the prom ritual hasn't changed that much---asking someone, getting the proper attire, preparations the day of prom, awkwardness, post prom. etc.
Leave a Reply.