As a new student to Cal High who had never experienced a homecoming dance, I was in for a shock last month when I learned about the absurd amount of money spent and the over-sexualized behavior that occurs.
My previous high school in New Jersey only had two dances: a winter formal and the senior prom. The winter formal had great music, professional pictures, and an ice cream bar in a swanky catering hall.
The dancing is mostly kept PG-13 and it feels more like a Sweet 16 party with friends than a school-related function. Having this as my only experience at a school dance prior to Cal’s homecoming, my expectations greatly differed.
After being asked in a cute “Instagram-worthy” way, I was immediately swept up in a whirlwind of planning trips to the mall to locate and purchase an “ideal” dress even though all of them were outside the price range of what I was willing to spend. Why waste the money on a dress that I would wear only once? Instead, I borrowed one from a friend and used heels that I’ve owned since seventh grade.
Then, it was corsages, boutonnières, and the decision whether or not to get my hair and makeup professionally done. A friend custom-made the corsage and boutonnière, while I opted for doing my own makeup and had my next-door neighbor attempt to curl my hair.
Although it was fun to go to someone’s house to take pre-homecoming pictures beforehand, it was stressful to figure out who would be hosting, at what time, and what was the perfect pose to make to guarantee the most likes for a Facebook profile picture.
Then came the actual dance itself.
In order to pick up the ticket, I was required to sign a dance contract promising to abide by certain rules regarding behavior. The dance contract specifically states that “demeaning or sexually explicit dancing, groping, fondling, bending over, lap dancing, floor break dancing, and moshing are not acceptable.”
Students supposedly read this contract and sign it, acknowledging they read, understood and agree to the rules.
But this was clearly not the case at homecoming. I had been previously warned by other students not to go in the middle of the dance floor, but with no clear explanation why.
Once I stepped foot in the event center, I understood.
Left and right I could see students grinding on each other like their lives depended on it. There were girls bending over so low, I swear they must have needed to put their hands on the ground for support.
I still cannot look at one of my fellow classmates straight in the eye ever since I saw him and his date “dancing” together at homecoming. It was more like him and his date attempting to have sexual intercourse through their clothes.
What promotes this type of behavior at high school dance? The expectation that if a girl is asked to homecoming, her ticket will be paid for and in exchange she’ll “dance” with her date for three hours?
Much of the sexual dancing at homecoming was done to popular music promoting promiscuous behavior. Administrative chaperones stood on the outskirts of the event center, observing the student’s actions but hardly attempting to stop it.
Students need to know that this type of behavior at a school dance isn’t just tasteless, but frankly disgusting and awkward for those around them.
I managed to occupy my time at homecoming killing zombies in the gamer truck, snapping silly shots at the photobooth, mingling with friends, and stalking the dessert table. Minimal dancing was done.
I felt relieved I did not spend a lot of time my hair and face, for within the 15 minutes I did spend inside the event center my makeup was smudged and my curls had gone limp.
With the Winter Formal coming up, I figure it will be the same as homecoming – costing lots of money and involving scandalous behavior. But that won’t stop me from going. Assuming my ticket will be paid for, of course.