Not Going to Prom? Good For You: Reasoning Against the Sanctity of High School Dances (Anniversary Edition)

by Jordan Spencer Cunningham on

Do you think you’re a loser for not going to prom? Are you afraid to go? Do you feel pressured to go? Do you have other insecurities? Read this article I more recently wrote first. It’s more concise and to the point, and it’ll give you more ideas on how to not feel bad about yourself because, let’s face it, you shouldn’t have to feel bad! You’re just fine for who you are! Don’t let society say otherwise! You can read this article later if you like, but the other one is better.

Please note: the following disparagement against dances is not specifically against dancing; rather, it is specifically against high school dances and the way people put themselves or others down for not attending them.

This is the Anniversary Edition of this article– not because it’s exactly a year after it was originally published, but rather because this is the ultimate republication with new ideas, all original comments, and etcetera. Please enjoy.

Whether you’re of the male or female segment and you’re not going to prom (or any other overmarketed school dance), you ought to get over yourself and enjoy life as it’s probably a good thing that you’re not going.

The only reason schools have such social phenomena are, and in order of relevance:

  1. It’s tradition.
  2. To make extra money.
  3. Hordes of angry, acne-spreading, puberty-stricken teenagers would go on a wild rampage throughout the city, brutally killing the elderly and viciously eating the small children.

If you’re not going to a school dance, again I say: good for you whether you’re a girl or a boy. Honestly, it’s not the end of the world, and it doesn’t mean you’re a loser. In the grand scheme of things (and perhaps that’s hard to comprehend while still in high school), it truly and sincerely doesn’t matter one bit. The trick is not to let it get to you. Have a shin-dig. Watch The Lord of the Rings. Play airsoft. There are so many better things you could be doing than merely moping and whining.

I’ve been to a few dances myself, and they certainly can be joyous. However, I’ll be the first to say that dances (school dances, mainly) are downright weird and sickeningly filled to the brim with strange social expectations and foolish traditions. I’ll also be the first to say that dances can be enjoyable, so it really depends upon one’s personal perception.

Also, taking a date to a dance is one of the most unnatural ways to get to know someone that I believe I can think of. When one goes to a dance, the person isn’t dressed normally nor does he or she act naturally. Dances are simply awkward, not to mention that one can’t even hear what one’s counterpart is saying to you due to the immense explosions of sound issued by the DJ’s speakers. On the other hand, as unnatural and awkward as they truly are, dances definitely can be effective in breaking the ice and paving the way for lasting good friendly relationships.

The fact of the matter is that dancing itself is one of the strangest acts humankind has ever designed, and as such, it should be treated with utmost discretion and sensitivity. Think about it a moment, won’t you? A group of mostly young, immature, nervous, sweating beings dressed to the nines in frilly, uncomfortable, and often revealing garb conglomerate inside of a dark, hot room where large black boxes create vibrations at volumes not healthy for any mammal’s ears with which said immature beings convulse and seize around the floor until they are exhausted and smellier than they were at the start. There is no denying it: dancing as we know it in the 21st century is an abhorrently terrifying act. Of course, most of what falls under the term we like to call “slow-dancing” is something I can somewhat wrap my head around. It has a hidden grace and quality to it that I, at least, approve of.

One last disparagement that I have with dances is the very word: dance. Say it aloud to yourself. The word in any American accent makes me cringe. It is quite possibly one of the ugliest words in the English language; by all means, Webster, change it! Or someone please start a non-profit that educates people to say it in a British accent instead of the American.

By this point, if you’re of the female segment, you’re probably fuming and despising the very sinews that help comprise my guts. By all means, hate me. I certainly deserve it. If you don’t agree with the above, please at least read onward so as to understand the boy’s (some boys’, at any rate) point of view for not asking you to any general dance.

In my experience at my dear old high school back in the golden olden days, it never failed that several boys would be attacked by a dense cloud of women for not taking a girl to the upcoming dance. If I may, let me break the taboo and explain to you lovely womenfolk a few facts: it is not the boy’s obligation to ask a girl to any dance; it is his choice, and he will choose that option if he so desires. Many males simply don’t want to go. As sinful as this sin is, I’m afraid it’s the truth. It has absolutely nothing to do with you (the girl). He simply doesn’t want to go, and that’s that.

Girls, don’t take it personally if you don’t get asked. This is one of the worst problems that I think dances have ever caused. It has nothing to do with you if you didn’t get asked. It’s simply that any boy who would have asked you doesn’t want to go or that he’s really too afraid to ask you. Oh, yes—you strike fear into the hearts of men. Believe me. All I ask—no, I implore and beg of you to not feel down about not being asked to a dance. The girl who wasn’t asked is just as wonderful, beautiful, special, perfect, and amazing as any girl who was, and don’t let anyone else make you feel that way.

A few wise words to girls who blame a boy or several boys who didn’t ask her and/or anyone: The more you push the matter and the more you put him down or pester him because of it, the more annoyed he will become and the more he’ll never want to go to any dance ever again, thereby lessening your chances of going next time. If you value your attendance to a school dance at all (and take it from me—you’ll be much happier if you cast it off as a thing of naught), then you won’t blame anyone including and especially yourself.

He (the boy you pester to ask you or that you pester to ask someone else) may tell you that he doesn’t have any money, and this may be true, but it’s more likely that this is just an excuse. Please leave it at that and stop telling him that he’s lame or horrible for not asking anyone; this diminishes what little self-esteem his boyish brain is capable of containing , and he may become violent where he was once a kind and gentle gentleman.

The other reason the boy may not want to go is really that he’s nervous. A dance is a mightily stressful thing, and he’s afraid of you especially if he’s attracted to you. He may not want to cope with that amount of stress and nervousness—some shyer types can’t mentally cope with such.

If he is attracted to you, however, and he is outgoing enough to ask you and not pass out or worse, then he really ought to be a man and ask you. Too many interested men are too afraid or too lethargic these days; rise up and be men, you little boys. Rise to the situation and overcome the fear. Life will be happier if you don’t let fear control you—if you simply don’t care what people might think (yes, even her—she probably will think highly of you anyway).

I hear from select womenfolk that dances are very important to girls, and especially prom. This is not such a bad thing, but it’s definitely a mistake to teach children and teenagers that if they don’t go to a given dance, then they are essentially a failure. That is completely untrue. It’s unfortunate that we let society’s traditions of this sort shape growing minds to think that self-worth is determined from superficial things like looks, possessions, popularity, or dance attendance. Don’t let a silly social gathering make you feel worth less than you really are. You are literally worth more than worlds. Girls don’t get to feel special and wanted as much as they should in life. There is no denying it whether it’s in high school, a serious relationship, or in marriage. Though a school dance can help a girl feel this way, please don’t let it dictate your happiness. That’s a very foolish idea.

ADDITION:

The following are a string of comments that were made by various readers at my old blog where this post was originally published. I think that they help explain this situation immensely, so here they are (profanity removed) for posterity’s sake:

Brekke

Oh, dear. Not everyone despises dancing or dances like you. For the girls who don’t get asked to Prom, they don’t get a chance to find out if they like it or not. Do you know how sad it is to see girls who really want to go to Prom but aren’t asked? Have you seen their eyes when they say they’re not going? I think it’s extremely selfish for a guy to not ask someone just because they don’t want to go when they KNOW a girl who isn’t going. A girl can’t go to Prom alone, and they’d feel stupid if they say, “Oh, I haven’t been asked yet. Will you take me?” Girls like to dress up and feel pretty and wanted. It doesn’t happen very often throughout life. Not being asked is a huge blow.

This is pointless to try and make you see the girl’s side of it. Guys just don’t really understand girls.

Jordan Spencer Cunningham

I knew I was going to get some angry comments. 🙂

I understand the girl’s point of view– I really think I do, at least somewhat. They want to be asked, feel pretty, feel special, etcetera. This is all good, and I don’t blame them. It’s natural. I still maintain that boys are subject to their points of view, too– don’t rule mine out just because I’m of the male segment, and males are generally idiots. I find nothing selfish in not asking a girl to a dance because I don’t want to go; if I don’t want to go, it’s my own business, and I shouldn’t be blamed because there are girls who wanted to go and I didn’t happen to take one of them. If I had consciously gotten a girl’s hopes up, then I deserve a severe tongue lashing. However, I made it clear that I had no intentions of going to prom with anyone because I didn’t want to go and because I’m low on money and have better things to spend it on (such as sticking it all in my mission fund).

Anyway, I see the girl’s point of view, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to go to a dance or enjoying it– as I said, I’ve been to a few in my time, and they were pretty enjoyable, and I was happy to give a girl a good time. However, I intended to get my point of view out there as it is just as credible and important as any girl’s point of view. I also tried to tear down the idea established by society that a girl is a loser if she’s not asked to a dance (or something similar to that) because that’s ridiculously untrue. She’s just as wonderful, beautiful, special, perfect, and amazing as any girl who was asked.

In retrospect of reading your comment once more, I agree that girls don’t get to feel special and wanted as much as they should in life, and that’s the male segment’s fault. There’s no denying it whether it’s in high school, in a serious relationship, or in marriage.

Candice

I’m a girl and I find this to be quite true. I’m not going to my prom. It is really just a bunch of traditions and the other kids putting pressure on you to go. In 30 years the only thing I’m going to remember is that I had on a hideous dress, and fell flat on me face in front of the whole school while trying to do the funky chicken. I’d rather not go through that social torture, thank you. As for asking a guy to prom, its rather stupid. Asking a bloke to prom when he’s just going to leave you 10 minutes in to go hang with his mates.

Carolyn

A girl can go to prom with her friends, instead of a date, because she knows that getting asked out by a guy doesn’t give her self-worth.

Monica

Well….Where to start?…Girls do enjoy dancing much more than guys. But that doesn’t let them off the hook. Guys should be willing to SACRIFICE for the opposite gender. If they learn to do this while young, their married life will be so much easier. Women are (and if they’re not–shame on you–Slackers) the most important thing in the world. So Naturally it makes sense that the men should feel obligated to take the women to the dances.

Jordan Spencer Cunningham

As for me, personally, you wouldn’t believe what I’ve sacrificed for women, and I agree that they are about the most important things (things, for lack of a better word) in the world. However, at this time of our lives, girls don’t need to be concentrated on quite as much as when we’re older and more mature. I don’t see anything wrong with concentrating on them to a certain high point, and I see nothing wrong with a happy, mature, good, and chaste type of relationship between a boy and a girl around this age (if they’re mature enough to handle it), but there’s still nothing wrong with not being interested at all at this point in life (not that I, personally, am not interested at all– I just know of a few boys who aren’t ready and who know that they’re not ready).

On the other hand, I’ll still maintain that high school boys shouldn’t have to feel any obligation to take any girl to any dance as long as he has not consciously given her reason to believe he was going to ask her. It’s his choice, and if he’s a real man, he won’t let society’s quirks and traditions decide what he’s going to do with himself. Also, if he’s a real man and he wants to go, he’ll take a girl. It’s all a matter of choice, not a matter of obligation. You want to be asked to a dance because the boy wants to ask you, right? Not because he feels he is forced or obligated to, right?

Alex

Jordan,

Great article. I am a senior in high school and this is exactly how I feel. I have absolutely no interest in going to my prom. All it would do to me is make me uncomfortable and worried. I hate dancing, dressing up, and everything else. I enjoy the company of my peers but I’m much more comfortable in a more relaxed setting. There are girls I’d like to ask, but the thought of even going at all just makes me uncomfortable, plus I don’t have the nerve to ask them and they probably already have dates – I hate having that feeling that I HAVE to go. I’m preparing for the peer pressure that’s going to come in the coming weeks… “WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOUR NOT GOING TO YOUR SENIOR PROM?!” I had a legit excuse not to go to last year’s but this year I don’t know what I’m going to do. I just don’t see myself having a good time if I were to attend.

Jordan Spencer Cunningham

Good to know the article is well-liked! I recently published a version of it in the school newspaper, and I actually found several people (girls, no less) who enjoyed it as well.

A suggestion: If anyone questions you, just tell them that you didn’t want to go and so you didn’t go. If they continue to pester you, don’t let it get to you. Just ignore it. Their opinions don’t matter in this particular case. A quote I recently found:

“The only man who is really free is the one who can turn down an invitation to dinner without giving an excuse.”

–Jules Renard

I know it’s hard to let go of feeling bad for saying no when you know other people are going to be upset about it, but they shouldn’t have any control over your life. You are your own person and therefore can make decisions by yourself. Don’t let society control you by making you feel rotten for not going to something as inconcequential as a dance.

Good luck!

Kat

That’s a good point. A lot of girls feel like crap if they don’t get asked to go to a dance. It’s not like it’s required or something. You’re not going to fail high school if you never go to one. It’s not like the world is going to end. Plus, girls, if you want to go so bad, what’s the shame in asking the guy? It’s not like it’s always the guy’s job. I ask guys to dance at region dances all the time. If you beat yourself up just because you didn’t get asked, what good is it? Do you really think anything’s going to happen because of it? You’re going to wind up hating yourself and thinking you have problems when really, guys are most always too chicken to ask a girl because they’re afraid of rejection. So girls, woman up and ask the guys if you really want to go that bad.

Thom Holwerda

I never understood America’s obsession with “prom”.

It’s so much different here in The Netherlands. Everyone here just goes to school dances and parties, there’s no “asking to go” and more of that bogus. You just… Go. Or not. Who cares?

And everybody has fun. Like dancing? Go ahead. Don’t like it? Fine by us, just have fun without dancing!

Of course, our entire school culture is so completely and utterly different compared to the US’. I’ve seen both, and I must say, I was horrified by the pathologically insane obsession with concepts like “popularity” and “looks”.

I ain’t no Brad Pitt myself, but why would any of my friends or classmates care? I happen to have been blessed with an abundance of female close friends all my life, almost all of them ridiculously pretty and attractive (for some weird reason). In the US system and culture, there’s no chance in, uhm, whatever (this is a different world regarding certain words 😉 ) that I’d be in a similar position as I am in now.

I just don’t get the US school culture. It saddens me to see just how many people seem to go to US schools only to suffer. School should be the best time of your life, and I can say that both high school and university have been the happiest times of my life.

Rosalyn

Holwerda,

Wow. You are ignorant. You think that only Americans care about looks and popularity? Whether you wish to acknowledge it or not, people care about their looks whether they are in America or the Netherlands, or anywhere else. If nobody cared at all about their looks, they could go out and not brush their teeth, with their pajamas on. What do you think ‘first impressions’ are? Sure, it’s judgemental, but we all do it. People will think you’re lazy or you don’t have the self respect to dress nice and be pretty. Being attractive and nice looking isn’t a bad thing, it means you take care of yourself.

As for you not ‘getting’ our culture, we are probably the most direct, no crap country there is out there, so if you don’t like us and our culture, you can go back to the Netherlands.

Jordan Spencer Cunningham

Um… he already is in the Netherlands. And I don’t think he meant that he didn’t like our culture as a whole, though I can see how he doesn’t get some points of it (I don’t get a lot of things from many other people’s cultures myself– it’s nearly alien). Being an American, I really hate a lot of points of the typical American culture. I especially dislike the way a lot of Americans come across as really rude, pompous, and arrogant towards people from other cultures. Especially when they think they’re being attacked and they overreact. Reminds me more of Nazis. “We’re the best kind of people on the planet.”

But I do see what you’re saying about first impressions and wanting to look nice for other people. I think it’s pretty natural for everybody.

Sorry, Thom– it looks like you’re cursed. People just can’t handle anything you say whether it’s on a website read by tens of thousands of people or a small, abandoned blog. (If anyone knows Thom from OSNews and isn’t one of the insane users, you’ll be able to laugh.)

Brittney

so……. I didn’t know acne was some sort of spreadable disease. I know that’s off topic but thats what I noticed. So if it is contagious why don’t they quarantine all the teenagers?
Well, that’s my thought

Crystal

I know you wrote this awhile ago, but this is my first visit to this site and I must comment.

Jordan Spencer! I am appalled; you are looking at only the dancing and dances of today. Dancing began as a more beautfiful and wonderful act than what you are describing. I wholeheartedly agree with you on many points, school dances in particular. First, let me point out that for the female of our species, it is not about the dancing so much as the following things.

1. Simply being asked. It is a boost to a girls self esteem, no matter how trivial and stupid the dance may be, someone thought of her enough to ask. (Especially if it isn’t a boyfriend therefore not “obligated” to ask her)

2. Most girls want to dress up and feel like a princess, of sorts, for a night. In this day and age we don’t get a chance, and most of the time don’t want, to dress up. This is our chance to wear something beautiful, and hopefully classy, that we otherwise would never wear.

3. We love to have our pictures taken 😉 particularly if we are wearing said dresses

That said, think of the dances of bygone eras. They were graceful and poised. They took thought and often you could have a conversation while dancing. The halls and ballrooms were brightly lit and often captivatingly beautiful. The music, classic in every sense of the word, was elegant, beauftiful and often subtle. Do not, my young friend, judge dancing upon the jirating done upon the floors of school dances. Think of the many forms of dance that show expression and beauty.

School dances, like school itself, can be cruel events that simply torture many souls needlessly. It is sometimes the very things we actually like about the dances that torture us. (Okay, not me I went to one school dance and stayed long enough to get pictures taken and then we left and had a blast, but that is another story.)

So there is my rebuttel to your argument, though you have some valid points. Dancing is not the devil, it is the people, as always, that make it what it is.

Crystal

Grrrrrrr…. I wrote that in a moment of extreme excitement, of sorts, and paid no attention to grammar or spelling and then forgot to recheck, so forgive my horrendous use of the English language 😉

Jordan Spencer Cunningham

Exactly!

It’s not that I hate dancing in general– I never was the best at it, and I don’t especially love it– but today’s sad excuses for “dances” are just phenomenally distressing. I would that I could see dances as they used to be– before Hollywood and singers and teenagers got a hold of them and twisted them into such disturbing, dark, and dangerous events. Also before rap became the common and “desired” thing. This world would be a much better place without such and similar music.

Let me also rehash: a girl deserves to feel special as you describe. I only argue that girls shouldn’t feel like garbage if they’re not invited to a dance. It isn’t their fault; it’s the ridiculous boys’ or the boys who are uncomfortable to an understandable degree, or who have no desire (again, if I were a girl, I wouldn’t want to be asked by a boy who truly had no desire to ask anybody but still felt obligated to– that would just end up unhappy). Society over the years has built up dances into things that, if a person doesn’t go to one (especially prom), this person is worthless, shunned, even. This is completely untrue, of course.

I should have mentioned dances as they used to be. I wish that I could see a dancing hall sort of like the one in Beauty and the Beast (Disney’s cartoon), if not as grand, and have music that’s uplifting and, if appropriate, romantic. Even if a good song is played at a school dance, one still can’t hear his or her date enough to hold a proper conversation.

I still uphold that the word “dance” ought to be changed, especially the way Americans say it. “Dancing…” spare me.

🙂

A GIRL *gasps*

Wow, this was written a while ago.

Guess what? I’m a girl, and I totally agree with you. Dances are so freaking awkward, for the first thing, and for the second; they’re not even dances. They are sweaty awkward teenagers jumping to crappy music on the dance floor with flashing lights all around. I would love to go to a real dance – like a ball, or something. That would be wonderful.

Why should a guy have to take a girl if he doesn’t want to? A little freedom, please… women can’t have everything they want. Just ask out a guy if you want to. Geez. And why in the world would you want to go to prom as someone’s pity date? With someone who doesn’t really want to go with you? That’s not my definition of feeling “wanted”.

“A girl can’t go to prom alone” MY FACE. I don’t really want to go to prom, and if I do go, I’ll go with a group of my girlfriends. Either ask a guy yourself, or shut up and stop complaining about being alone.

OMG a girl!

i agree somewhat. while this article does sound really bitter nd a little pissy, the author makes valid points. why should a dance matter. and honestly, all u other ladies out there, if i guy wants to ask you out and you keep on harrassing him about it, the poor boy’s gonna get scared off. so let him do it his way, nd honestly, prom’s never worth the crapload of $$ and effort that you put into it, so just chill out, i’m sure we all have muuuuch better things to do than stress about who’s going to take u to prom and what color should ur dress be.

AlanAldasNumberOneFan

Yes, I agree that the prom is a stupid, overrated excuse just so people can show off how much money they have. I never went to mine and I don’t regret it one bit! The people who go can have their tuxedos, gowns, and limos. I have better things to do with my time; I am the definition of Anti-Prom!

Kaleigh

I’m only going because of the pressure. Honestly, I’m a girl and can’t stand dressing up, getting my hair done and having pictures being taken of me. Goodness, it’s the whole hype of prom that bothers me. But this guy asked me and I couldn’t turn him down. He’ll probably be with his mates the whole time anyway and it’s not like we can hear each other over the loud music. I’m just gonna have to fake it and pretend I’m having a good time.