Up until last year, according to activities coordinator Leigh Cambra, Carmel students would go on buses to prom, stay for about 10 minutes, then leave. Last year, with the support of ASB and countless parents, Cambra tried to change the dance culture by doing destination proms. Last year, prom was on a boat in San Francisco, and this year it is going to be at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
“We were trying to do something that would be a nice memorable experience for everybody, because proms were not quite nice memorable experiences for everybody,” Cambra says.
Although there was some pushback from a small group of students, Cambra notes that all it took to make last year’s prom a hit was a big group of people getting excited and involved. The positivity snowballed, and last year’s prom became a huge success. Now, about 80 tickets have been sold so far for the April 25 prom at Levi Stadium.
However, when it comes to other school dances, ensuring students actually go is much harder than it seems. According to Cambra, about nine years ago, there was a big issue with “freak dancing,” and it was cracked down on so much that students didn’t want to go to dances at all anymore.
However, all these years later the trend with dance attendance is as inconsistent as the NASDAQ.
“School dance culture in general has changed,” Cambra says. “The dances change based on the music that is happening, people’s interests and priorities changing. For example, our school has become really focused on academics. So it’s hard to predict how dances are going to go. It’s totally hit or miss, but it has a lot to do with how ‘into it’ the senior class is.”
Last year, a dance was set to be right after powderpuff, and according to Cambra students were excited to go. But when the seniors lost, it hugely impacted the attitude and turnout for the dance. Conversely, seniors were excited for homecoming this year, and it was a huge success.
“I think it really depends on the school dance,” senior Avery Yeatman remarks. “We have good participation when it comes to dances like homecoming and prom, but when it comes to dances like winter formal, it just really depends on who’s there. But I think if you go with a group of friends, then you’re guaranteed to have a good time.”
Junior Karter Ruiz, however, does not share the same positive outlook.
“I don’t want to be mean, but I kinda think school dances are lame,” Ruiz says.
The next CHS dance is winter formal, set for March 6. The location has not yet been determined, but Cambra hopes that it will be at Wave Street Studios. The winter formal is a dance open for all grades, but geared more for freshmen and sophomores since they are unable to attend prom.
Sophomore Cici Hendricks is excited for the dance and says that she has been to every dance so far.
“I think dances are really fun because you get to go with friends and dress up and everything,” Hendricks says.
Unlike Hendricks, some students, like junior Benji Dansky, judge dances based on their first experiences.
“I went to homecoming as a freshman, and that’s the only school dance I’ve been to,” Dansky notes. “I didn’t think it was very fun. Maybe it’s harsh judgment to say that school dances aren’t fun because I haven’t been to many. But the one I went to, we only stayed for like ten minutes, and I thought it was lame.”
The common feeling about school dances is well-expressed by senior Paige Barger, who says that “if more people went to school dances, they would be fun.” Attendance is the biggest problem that ASB grapples with: it seems to make or break how fun the dances are.
“If you get a whole group of people to go, then you’ll have fun,” Barger says. “It just depends on who goes.”