Sunday, March 27, 2011

Differences (2): School Dances

I'd really like it if someone could properly explain the terms homecoming and prom to me!
  Like, I don't know what the difference is,
  I don't know who is allowed to go to them (anyone from any year? Or only kids from a specific year? Only kids from that school? Or can you bring someone from another school?),
  I don't know when they are (are they always at the same time every year?),
  I don't know where they are (at the school, or does the school hire a separate venue, or is it different at different schools),
  and what's up with the king and queen business?

Here's how school dances work in South Africa:
(for all the schools I know of)

At the end of primary school (Grade 7) there was some kind of "social" thing. I can't even remember if it had a special name. I think it was like a pre-teen "disco" effort. Now that I think about it, it doesn't even count in this discussion!

Okay, moving onto high school (Grade 8 to Grade 12 a.k.a. Matric).
  • At the end of Grade 11 some schools have a Grade 11 Dance (in my year, we didn't get one because on our Bonding Tour (that's a whole other story!) some people trashed part of a hotel with shaving cream and eggs...). It's for the Grade 11 students but if you want to bring a date from another grade or another school that's okay (unless your school has a rule that it's only for their Grade 11s)
  • In Grade 12 (Matric) there is the Matric Dance. This is like the dance of one's high school career. People make way too much a major fuss over it: Girls have their nails and hair and makeup done and (if you have the money!) you get your dress designed for you. (Guys pretty much just hire a suit and show up on the day!). The dance is for the Matric students (duh!) but if you want to invite a date from a younger grade or another school that is usually fine. It happens at different times of the year at different schools and (as far as I know) we don't do the king and queen thing. Some schools decorate their school hall for the dance and others (like mine) waste a huge amount of money fundraise so that they can hire a fancy venue.

My Personal Matric Dance Experience

So there was this guy I liked :-) (isn't there always?!) I finally worked up the courage to ask him to go with me -- and he said YES! I can't tell you how ecstatic I was! Then a few days later he came over and said...

Ex-date: So [girl-who-used-to-go-to-our-school] really wants to come to our Matric dance because, you know, she knows everyone here, so [boy-who-still-goes-to-our-school] said he'd take her. But now he's taking [some-other-girl-I-don't-remember] and... well... I totally forgot about this but a while ago I kinda said to [girl-who-used-to-go-to-our-school] that if no one else was taking her I'd take her.

Me: *shock*

Ex-date: So... how about this? If, two weeks before the dance, neither of us is going with someone else, then we can go together..?

Me: *Thinks* Sure, I'll just wait until the last second, just in case you still happen to be available, and while you're at it, why don't you just dump a bucket of ice-cold water over my head and punch me in the stomach, asshole?!!
*Says* Um, sure, okay... no problem.

Anyway, I didn't end up waiting till the last minute. A family friend set me up with this really nice guy from another school. We chatted via text and e-mail and met up a few times before the dance. The dance itself was kinda awkward (because one of my friends also didn't have a date so I got really-nice-guy to bring his friend along for her, and I don't think they got along too well...) and in the end I decided that far too much fuss is made over school dances! Really-nice-guy and I ended up going to the same university and staying in brother and sister residences (so we had all our meals together) and while I did like him for a while, we ended up just being friends :-)

So how do school dances work where you live?
And if you'd like to share your school dance experience please feel free to :-)


JEFritz said...

A Homecoming dance is held at the beginning of the school year (in September usually). It's for anyone in high school.

Prom is held at the end of the school year (May or June). Usually, it's only for seniors (twelfth year) but sometimes juniors (eleventh) have their own.

The King and Queen are always seniors. First, in school, the seniors select a bunch of boys and girls to run for the post, then they vote from those candidates the King and Queen. We did this for Homecoming at my school, but not for prom like most schools do.

Your Matric Dance sounds a lot like my prom. We spent tons of money on our dresses, our hair, our nails, and we rented out a ballroom in a Country Club (every student paid forty dollars every year, so we didn't need to hold a fundraiser). Overall, it was fun, even though my date was kind of boring.

Alexis said...

Homecomming: anyone can go, it is usually said to be at the start of the school year but really falls on the first home football game usually sometime in September and then the dance is after the game. Also it is usually at the school in the gym or cafeteria (at lest in my experience other more well funded school may have it at other locations)

Prom: 11th and 12th graders (juniors and seniors) are the only ones really invited but if they invite a date that is a lower classman (9th or 10th grade/ freshmen or sophomores) then the lower classman can go as well. It is usually held at the end of the year and for seniors it is sort of a last little bit of high school, mine was held about a month before school ended (late March Early April). This dace is usually off site at a rented location (fancy hotel ballroom or the like)

King and Queen are elected for both dances, and with the crown usually have some sort of hand waving to do, it is a popularity contest basically.

And usually you can only bring kids from your school but some schools will allow you to bring other people to the dances, my prom was held at the same time/local as the other two high schools in my area so that was never really an issue.

Nas Dean said...

Unfortunately, where I live, on a small Island country in the South Pacific known as Fiji, there are no dances. This year, my daughter is very keen to organize a dance for her last year at high school!

Kari Marie said...

JE and Alexis laid it out pretty well.

At our school you couldn't bring someone from outside the school to a dance held on school grounds (homecoming). Most of the time the dances held on school grounds were casual. No one dressed up other than normal street clothes.

You could bring someone from another school to Prom. Prom is a formal affair (and the only formal in my school). Tuxes for the boys and something dressy for the girls. Tickets were usually about $50 per person and usually the guy paid for it. At my school, the rage was to rent a limo to arrive in style and then cram yourself (and your dress) into your boyfriends mangy car for the ride home.

NiaRaie said...

Homecoming deals with football season. When the high school team has the homecoming game, the Homecoming dance is that night after the game. At my high school, it wasn't a big deal. It eventually got cancelled because no one was showing up.

Prom, however, is HUGE.It takes place at the end of the school year (April-May).At our school it was a Jr-SR prom (for 11th and 12th students only). Younger students could come if brought as dates. So could students from other schools if brought as dates. They just couldn't be too old. The details sound a lot like your Matric dance. And we never had Kings and Queens, because administration didn't think it was fair.

Su said...

My high school had Homecoming twice a year: Once in the football season and once in the basketball season. I think this is partly because it's cold in Indiana and we had nothing else to do.

And that's about all the help I can give, because I wasn't much into dances so I never went to homecoming OR to my prom! Never had the money for a prom dress, and as you say, it's way too much fuss.

erica and christy said...

I think it's a little different everywhere - even my hometown is different than where I live now, and I'm in the same state.

Here (where I live now), homecoming is in October - there's a home football game on Friday and the dance is on Saturday, in the high school gym (which is decorated by a committee of students and teachers). King and Queen are seniors (12th graders, voted K & Q by their classmates), but anyone 9-12th grade can attend (one of them must be from that school, but it doesn't matter who the other person is, as long as they're high schoolers).

Prom is in April and is run by the junior (11th grade) class, but again, any high schooler can go. It's a lot more formal - tuxes and fancy dresses (think bridesmaids, but cuter) and usually the couple goes somewhere nice for dinner before that.

My junior year, I was dating someone out of high school and he refused to go to prom, so I missed it (in my home town, usually only juniors or seniors went to any formal dance, unlike where I live now, where almost every high schooler goes all four years). For senior homecoming, I was between boyfriends, planned on going with friends, got dressed up, and then ended up going to a party and missing the whole dance. I did go to prom senior year, though - spent way too much money on a dress and don't remember much of it now, 18 years later...

Brian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kar_took said...

We had various discos throughout the year, most of them for major events like Halloween, Christmas or charity night like Childreen in Need or Comic Relief. They were pretty standard efforts with the school open on a Saturday night, a DJ playing popular dance music and an excuse to dress up and suck face with who ever was availble. There was often underage drinking from ages 16 upwards.

We had Prom in 6th year as leaving party where we booked a function suite at a nearby hotel, ha dinner and then a disco. The boys were pretty much in formal kilts and the girls had prom dresses and has their hair done. We could take anyone from any year and any school. We were all mostly 17/18 by then and either had boyfirends or girlfriends or just went in a big group of friends so there was none of the 'who shall I ask to/will someone ask me to Prom' thing I've seen on American TV shows. We didn't have a King or Queen.

Madeleine said...

Good question. I have no clue either. LOL! :O)

Carol Riggs said...

Ha, I was a typical introverted antisocial wallflower in high school, so I never went to any dances. I'm totally no help, therefore. What a sweet pic of Hermione! Love the pink on her, those lovely sleeves and waist ruffles.

David Powers King said...

I think you have sufficient answers provided above. I didn't go to dances much, so I wouldn't know either. I know. I'm not very helpful, but reading about dances in South Africa was very interesting.

Be sure to check out my giveaway. :)

erica and christy said...

erica (and others) already answered your now I'm just leaving my own. What is the Bonding Tour? Totally curious. christy

Mary Aalgaard said...

School dances are highly over-rated. Your story was funny. Kittie linked me here. Fun to read a blog from SA.

Rachel Morgan said...

The Bonding Tour... hehe ;-)
Ok, at the high school I went to (Crawford College North Coast) at the beginning of every year each grade went away together for 3 - 4 nights to "bond" with one another. (Insert your favourite meaning of the word "bond" here!!) This was a pretty good idea in Grade 8, and probably Grade 9 too, when there were lots of new students and kids needed a fun way to get to know each other, but by Grade 10, 11 and 12 these tours were just excuses (for some kids) to try and misbehave without being caught! When the school first started (I started there when it was only in its 2nd year) only the Grade 8s were taken to a rustic camp-type place and the rest of the Grades were taken to hotels (yup, hotels) of various standards. Since then--probably due to the fact that several members of my year trashed part of the Wild Coast Sun Hotel (a VERY nice place!) with shaving cream and eggs--Grades 8 to 11 now ALL go to "rustic" places and only the Grade 12s go to a fancy place. It's tradition for the Grade 12s to spend 4 nights at Sun City. Yup. That was fun! Actually, I kind of enjoyed Wild Coast more than Sun City (and no, I was not one of the people throwing eggs around!).

Cally Jackson said...

Queensland, Australia

I think it differs between schools, but for my high school, we had a semi-formal for years eleven and twelve, and a formal for year twelves. Different schools hold them at different times. Ours was on our last night of school, which was heaps of fun.

HOWEVER, even though I went to a co-ed state school, we weren't allowed to take partners to either the semi-formal of the formal. In fact, our PARENTS came to the formal. Ugh. Ten years later, that still annoys me!

An idea for you - it might be worthwhile suggesting that people preface their comment with the state(county or equivalent) and country they live in, so it's clear right from the outset where they're talking about. :-)

Ciara said...

Hi Rachel,
I love your blog! I just gave you a blog award. Go to to check it out. :)

Shari said...

Thankfully, everyone has explained what homecoming and prom are like here in the states. I've tried to talk my girls into having a party at our house with some close friends instead of spending all that money on a dress and hair and nails and makeup.

Gina Blechman said...

So I PLANNED to help you out, but some other peoples beat me to it. Thanks for the anecdotes! I particularly enjoyed the dual thought/speech process going on when you agreed with ex-dance date. hehe.

<3 Gina Blechman

Tracy said...

Yeah, doesn't look like I really need to go into explaining what the differences are, since I was already beaten to it.

I HATED the dances in school. As a non-popular girl, at the time, I tried to avoid going whenever I could. I only went to one homecoming and one prom (both in my senior year) and neither of them was anything spectacular. Movies and books lie about "the magic" of these dances, me thinks.

N. R. Williams said...

I see you have been given the mysterious answer to your questions. I had to think back and sadly, I never went to these dances. This is because we moved and I didn't know anyone plus I was super shy. I don't think I missed much.
N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium.