The word “Prom” stems from the word “Promenade” which signified the first Social Walk of an adolescence being introduced at their first Adult event. Proms were made popular in the U.S.A where Proms were believed to emerge from, the Debutante Balls, which were given by the Upper-Middle Class sector of society in the 1800’s. In that era girls would wear long white gloves and be escorted into a grand hall and be given a social introduction into high society. In 1894 a young male student from Amherst College had written in his journal of being invited to a prom at Smiths College. In the 1900’s Proms were similar to a tea dance, where teenagers didn’t buy new clothes for the event, but simply arrived in their best clothes. In the 1920’s Proms had begun to be an annual event. Having said that it wasn’t until the 1930’s and 1940’s when proms when Prom dances started appearing in Yearbooks.
It wasn’t until the 1950’s when the people of America came into larger wealth , that Proms became more lavish and expensive. The competition had begun and the dances no longer took place in gyms but in hotel ballrooms and banqueting rooms. The position to be “Prom Queen” and “Prom King” became desirable and signified social status. The Prom dress seemed to equate to being as important as a wedding dress, indeed some would say it was similar to a wedding rehearsal.
Although, it has always been tradition for the guy to ask the girl to a Prom, things are changing. Today, the Prom is a very elaborate affair with no expense spared and teenagers and their parents hire limousines, purchase extravagant Prom dresses or suits. Girls have also started to take control by asking guys to the event.
Proms have become popular in other countries but are still traditionally known as Debutante Balls in Ireland and some parts of Australia.
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