The grade twelve dance is absolutely the most significant event of your entire existence. It is more important than getting married, having babies, launching a successful career and traveling combined. In fact, if you do not go, you might as well cover your face with a brown bag and call yourself a failure because you will have made the biggest mistake of your life. If you do not go to the dance, know that you will forever be judged by others. And most importantly, remember that everything I just said is a complete and utter lie.
marks neither the beginning nor the end of the rest of your life. Your grade twelve dance experience will not get you into a good college, land you an impressive job or help you give birth to the next President of South Africa. Despite what popular media may suggest, not attending the event will not label you a social outcast or ruin your reputation. In fact, not going may even be a better choice in the long run.
A typical matric dance experience can cost anywhere between 1000 to 8000 rands depending on your level of enthusiasm. Personally, I find this to be a bit excessive seeing as you are essentially paying for clothes that you will never wear again and a hair style that will fall apart within a matter of hours. Would you rather not spend that money on other, more enriching activities? Anything else less ridiculous than on a night of dancing.
The matric dance is awkward. First, you must find a suitable date, one that is not too short or too weird and who will not be embarrassed when your crying mother decides to take a million pictures a minute before you are scheduled to leave. Second, because there is no set formula to determine how much time you must spend with your date versus how much time you should spend with your friends, you will undoubtedly be haunted by a lingering sense of confusion all night as you either drag this poor boy back and forth across the prom room or make the decision to abandon him for hours at a time. Unless your date happens to be your friend, there is no way to avoid this problem. Then there are your teachers, who stand off to the side, silently judging you and wondering what it will be like to see you in class the following Monday as you simultaneously try to deflect the same thought. By the end of the night, the hair you sacrificed your first born child for probably looks like the end of a broomstick (and not the fancy Nimbus 2000 kind, either) and all the photos of you show the weird faces that only a professional camera and your best friends are able to capture. And don’t worry, you can be sure they will be uploaded to Facebook and shared a hundred times over.
Don’t believe what you see in TV shows and magazines about this moment being a once in a lifetime experience with confetti raining down from the heavens and that perfect boy giving you a cute little dimple smile and dancing you off your feet. Finding a prom like that is like finding a talking unicorn in your backyard that poops money trees. Namely, it doesn’t exist. In reality, prom is a hodgepodge of sweaty football players weaving in and out of your personal bubble all the while unknowingly grinding with a portion of your leg that you would rather keep to yourself. Not to mention the cacophony that someone without ears deemed music streaming over the crowd of hormonally charged teenagers. Prom is like a Disney film. It presents an ideal situation (boy meets girl meets suit and tie and a night of carefree dancing) that gives girls high expectations and pressures them into thinking they will lose a glass slipper at the end of the night and be rescued by Prince Charming. News flash: Fairy tales don’t exist. Prom is nothing more than a crappy high school dance with an expensive price tag and a fancy name slapped on. It is overpriced, overhyped and it will most likely not be the best night of your life so don’t feel bad about dressing up with friends and skipping out on prom to go out on the town or simply staying in to watch a movie. In the end, being surrounded by people you love rather than strangers you barely know is what matters. And not being covered in other people’s sweat. That’s pretty important too.
So whether you’re dateless, resistant or you just hate dances, I can assure you, prom is not and will never be the pinnacle of your high school experience and anyone who tells you otherwise has been blinded by the media’s overhyped depiction of a dance that is more about the image than the actual experience. If you want to go to a real party (bonus points for another Titanic reference?), take your money and your friends and make the most of it somewhere else. Go to a fancy dinner in the most expensive clothes you own. Make mattress forts with your friends and watch bad movies until you can’t stay awake anymore. Stand in the open sunroof of a limousine and sing Adele at the top your lungs through town. Most importantly, do whatever your heart desires and leave your regrets behind, life is the only one that truly matters. Don’t let it go to waste.