Religion & Beliefs

‘Oh, my gosh, what if we have, like, a Mormon prom?’

I went to an Orthodox high school, and so we didn’t get a prom. A school sponsored dance is hard to do when guys and girls aren’t allowed to even touch each other. Mixed dancing was way way off limits. … Read More

By / May 1, 2007

I went to an Orthodox high school, and so we didn’t get a prom. A school sponsored dance is hard to do when guys and girls aren’t allowed to even touch each other. Mixed dancing was way way off limits. But the administrators knew the girls would riot if they didn’t get a night of fancy dresses, so every year there was something called Chanukkah Revue. Chanukkah Revue was the prom minus the fun, basically. We all got dressed up and went with dates, but we had to follow a very strict dress code (skirts below the knees, sleeves below the elbows, neckline no lower than the clavicle), and we couldn’t have any physical contact with our dates. There was entertainment—an improv comedy troupe one year, and a fire-eater another year—and Jewish line dancing, with a mechitza down the middle separating the girls from the boys. Because you know how hot a guy gets when he sees a girl in a long skirts doing the Yo-Ya dance. The food came from a local kosher caterer, and was usually subpar. The only thing Chanukkah Revue had in common with a prom was that the afterparty was really the main event. Someone’s mom let them use the basement for a party, and everyone would pile in and drink liquor out of the bottle and wander in and out of the stoner room. People danced and made out and puked on the Berber carpeting. I was thinking about “Chanukkah Revue” today because I just read an article in the Chicago Tribune about a Mormon Prom:

Saturday night marked a new sort of spring ritual for about 300 Chicago-area teenagers: a prom night free of hip-grinding dance moves, plunging necklines and racy song lyrics.

Billed as the region's first-ever Mormon prom, teens from Hebron to Sugar Grove gently swayed under a sparkling disco ball inside a gymnasium in Naperville. A banner overhead read "Reflecting Eternity 2007."

"I think it's really cool because when you go to school dances, it's all kind of dirty dancing," said Abby Holyoak, 17, of Rockford. "Everyone here has the same standards, so you don't have to worry about it. It's pretty much amazing."

Lytal Morgan of Aurora and Kristina Palgen of Warrenville, both 18, came up with the idea at a sleepover in the winter. The teenagers are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"My friend and I were like, 'Oh, my gosh, what if we have like a Mormon prom?" recalled Morgan, who said she was horrified after attending last year's Waubonsie Valley High School prom.

"People were hardly wearing anything. It was gross," she said. "I stayed for like five minutes and left."

To avoid any confusion, the black admission tickets to the Mormon event spelled out the dress code: "Sunday dress or better" and referenced a well-known church pamphlet that outlines conduct for youth.

By far the best part of the article is when the teenagers talk about modest dress. One girl says, “I find when you wear modest dresses, it makes you feel more like a princess…You're not afraid somebody's looking at you." And a guy responds, "When you see someone scantily dressed, you do get feelings…I am a lot more comfortable at a church dance than at a school dance."

I LOVE “you do get feelings.” That’s amazing. Anyway, at the end of the article there’s a mention of the post-prom plans:

Landon Goggins, 18, of St. Charles and Kirsten Spears, 16, were off to the home of their friend Amanda Oscarson, 17, of Naperville.

Oscarson and Spears carried boxes of leftover treats. What were their plans?

"Cookies and milk," said Goggins, laughing. "I have brownies too," Spears said.

It was nearly 11 p.m., but this night probably wouldn't go too late. Some teens, like Goggins, had church at 9 a.m. the next day.

full story So here’s my question: If we accept that prom is incredibly important to high schoolers, is there any way to set things up so that prom doesn’t becoming ‘naked people grinding to ‘My Humps’ and then retiring to someone’s house for beer pong’? Do Mormons really have the right idea? If we follow their modesty guidelines and whatever, will seniors have milk and cookies while watching Sweet Sixteen in the hours after prom? Anybody have any prom success stories? (Losing your virginity doesn’t count as success, but not getting puked on does.)