Prom, from the 1920s to Now


Julia Davis

With the Purple Reign Prom quickly approaching this Saturday, travel through time to see how the most anticipated junior/senior event has evolved over the past century. From off-campus locations and never-ending after parties to short dresses and school gyms, here is a little slice of history for one of high school’s most enduring traditions.

Prom used to take place after graduation, instead of before, as it currently stands. Originally held off campus–usually at the old Junior League, River Oaks Country Club, or Houston Country Club–juniors and seniors celebrated the end of the school year by attending prom after the graduation commencement. Often stretching into the wee hours of the morning, prom–from the 1920s until the late 1990s–was an all-night event. Starting at 10 p.m. and ending at 1 a.m., Kinkaid students indulged in a more carefree atmosphere. Like today, parent chaperones assisted in the organization of the event.

Back then, after prom ended, the juniors and seniors would split for their respective after parties, which would include a live band, swimming, and food. These after parties would end around 5 or 6 a.m. with a breakfast, but many seniors would often continue on to Galveston for more partying.

Alumna Susan Santangelo (Class of ‘55) said, “Proms in the 1950’s were, I suppose, ‘tame’ by today’s standards. The students were, for the most part, well-behaved and polite; but we had fun – and we loved dancing and listening to the daring rock music of which our parents so heartily disapproved!”

To allow for more comfortable dancing, “girls dresses were often short (but well below the knee) so that jitterbugging could be accomplished more easily, and girls were known to abandon their high heels and dance in their stocking feet. Boys wore traditional tuxedos, but often abandoned their jackets and ties for dancing,” Santangelo said.

In the 60s, the junior class held a dance at someone’s home to raise money for the prom. It was the junior class’ responsibility to raise enough to fund the dance, so they sold lunch sandwiches, junior directories, and beanies to raise money.

In the early 2000s, prom was moved on campus for better monitoring of the goings on at the party. Also, the cost of prom is now taken out of the Senior Budget.

Whereas now most people are itching to evacuate the dancef loor and burst open the doors to leave school dances, back then, high school students liked to enjoy their last dance with their partner to songs like “The Tennessee Waltz”, “How Much is that Doggie in the Wind” or “Stardust”, known as the final favorite.