The Price of Prom

Brian Foisy, Staff Writer

America has a culture of doing out-of-the-ordinary things just because they’ve always been done. “It’s just the way it is,” they say. Our daily life is filled with things that are the way they are because they always have been. A fine example of this is the American high school tradition of prom.  

Prom is short for promenade dance and, indicated by the presence of the word ‘promenade,’ originated in the late 1800s. Proms began in high schools in which there was only one dance per year. It was created to begin teaching high schoolers etiquette and social manners. By the mid 20th century it had slowly morphed into the dance event that we have today.

In the 50s, as a result of post-WWII prosperity, the prom became a more costly endeavor. High schools began to rent out hotels and function halls in place of the standard gymnasium. The price of the event continued to increase from then on to the price we pay today.

In VISA’s 2015 edition of their annual report, they stated that the average family spent $919 on their child’s prom. In 2019 this number only accounts for the basics of prom, if you want to be cool you’ll end up spending a lot more.

Of course you’ll need to get the best dress. However, even if you do there’s a chance that someone else will have already bought it. So make sure to secure your rights to it by posting it on the KHS Prom Instagram page. It’s a sort of clever way to make sure that girls don’t come to prom wearing the same dress, but this also means they probably need to buy new dresses each year to stay on top of the competition. 

There’s also our school’s tickets, which will run you $60. This exuberant price accounts for the five-star experience of a three hour debutante ball housed in a room full of sweaty teenagers where the DJ plays music that you knew was going to be bad because when is it ever good?  At least they give you food; per hearsay, there may even be a chocolate fountain this year. I’d pay $60 to dip a strawberry in Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup any day.

And if you don’t want to be a monster, you’ll have to pay for your date’s ticket too. Alternatively, you could get a really long coat and stand on each other like a Looney Tunes cartoon and pretend to be one person.

There’s also transportation, which some people choose to get. This can be a limo, party bus, or riding on the back of those unicycle kids from the May Day parade.

For a spooky amount of money, some guy can drive you from your house, to the beach, and then to a hotel. Anyone who can accomplish that is basically a god, so why not open up a second mortgage to show some appreciation?

What this is all building to is the question of why do we like prom so much? It’s expensive, stressful, and incredibly over-hyped. Is there even any point to it at all?

For some people, yes. For some people, prom ranks as a life moment that will never be forgotten like a wedding or high school graduation. I think I, begrudgingly, fall into that category. For others it’s a meaningless waste of time, money, and energy. To that latter half of the KHS student population, I have an alternative for you.

Is Prom too expensive?

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In using VISA’s statistics on the price of prom and some amateur research of my own, I’ve figured out the real price of prom. And now, I’m going to give you a list of better uses of your time and money that’ll cost around the same amount as prom.

For $1,056 you and 43 of your closest friends can enjoy a ‘Supreme’ Birthday Party at Jokers: Family Fun and Games… for the kid in you. Some of the highlights of this are a personal hostess, pizza, cake, and soda; 35 Tokens; 200 Tickets; and a ‘Playhouse Bracelet.’ And for the birthday boy or girl, you can get 500 Tickets and a spin at the prize wheel.

For $350, per my research on the average price of a prom dress, you can get a genuine Gucci belt. No need to go to Chinatown for some knockoffs, these puppies are real.

For $10 less 12 adults and six kids can have the adventure of a lifetime with the “BIG” Croc Adventure Tour located at the Crocodile Encounter “just 30 minutes from Downtown Houston.” This tour provides “standard admission and a fully interactive guide led feeding display with our larger crocodiles, access to our behind the scenes areas, up close experiences with our kangaroos and antelope, and a photo with a baby alligator.”

For around $1,000 you can get 150 ten piece Chicken McNuggets. Or 14 gallons worth of Diet Coke cans,  or, for the classy folks, 52 twelve packs of orange LaCroix.

If your date is upset that he or she can’t to go to prom anymore, just tell them that for $1,305 you bought them a trip to Paris. Sadly, you can’t go with them, but I’m sure there’s room in the budget for a postcard.

All in all, your attendance at prom is a matter of personal choice. If you think it’s cool, go for it. If you think it’s a waste, don’t go. Even if you do end up going, it’s still possible to ball on a budget. I spoke to a bunch of kids who are going for under $200, and that’s fine.

But above all if you choose to go, don’t do anything stupid and be safe.

If you have a response to this article or would like to suggest a topic for a future one, email me at [email protected] Your response could be featured in or inspire a future article.