Senior Prom History

Your senior prom is here. Senior prom history helps you understand how proms have evolved into what they are today.

The senior prom is more than just a dance to end your final year of high school. It is considered by many to be a rite of passage, your first formal affair and the event that marks your entrance into adulthood. Once an affair reserved only for upperclassmen in college, the senior prom has developed over the years and today gets more attention than any other event in high school. It’s even bigger than a championship football game against your school rival (outside of Texas).

In the late 19th Century the senior prom was developed using the debutante balls made popular by European schools as a model. The idea was for American parents to have an opportunity to instill a little culture and etiquette into their teenage children. As the years went by and the automobile became more common, the senior prom took on new meaning. In the 1950’s, it became the first night of total freedom for high school students, an entrance into the world of dating and formal fashion.

In the 1980’s, a series of movies was made that glorified the prom scene and made it the multi-billion dollar industry that it is today. Girls became more focused on the pursuit of the perfect prom dress and guys started to rent limousines instead of taking their parents’ car. Society had matured and the new development of the internet offered kids an opportunity to become more knowledgeable and prepared for a formal affair like a senior prom.

Today, the senior prom is still a rite of passage. Teens are more mature today than they were in the 19th Century, but they still reach that point in their lives where childhood comes to an end and the world of adulthood opens up in front of them. The senior prom is the end of high school, but it’s the beginning of something bigger and better. On prom night, your only responsibility is to party all night long. Tomorrow, your life will change. Reality is waiting for you and you have some decisions to make. College and work may not sound like fun prospects right now, but they bring something else that you’ve been waiting for these past eighteen years: freedom.


  1. It’s really interesting to me that the original proms were meant to be more like a debutante ball – especially when you consider some of the things that happen at proms nowadays! 🙂 🙂

  2. I am from India & India does not have a culture of prom nights. Attending or being a part of prom night has always been my fantasy, which I fulfill through movies or blogs like these.

  3. Wow, great to learn about the prom history and it has transformed little by little these years. I get to learn about the prom from the Hollywood movie and thought it is so cool to have such events for the teen.

  4. We do have a prom type of event at the end of highschool, but it’s not like in the American movies at all. We usually go with the entire class for a formal dinner at a fancy hotel and then we end up in a club. It is indeed the passage to adulthood.

  5. We don’t have prom in the UK but we have started having an end of year formal for the kids that are leaving secondary school. It’s based on the prom idea, it’s great to see what the history is behind it.

  6. What an enjoyable read! I love the closing statement : “College and work may not sound like fun prospects right now, but they bring something else that you’ve been waiting for these past eighteen years: freedom.” LOL!


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