School Dances Aren’t For Everyone – But They Can Be


Photo by Gabriella Bello

Outside of room J105, the Sponsor a Stallion club ran a Winter Formal Dress Drive where students were able to donate any kind of formal attire, including dresses, suits, shoes, makeup – all of which are gender inclusive. These donations could be picked up free of cost by any student. Sponsor a Stallion acknowledged the ongoing issue of high expenses spent on school dances, so they aimed to help out students in need of financial support.

Sydney Wolfe, Photo Editor

Growing up, I remember watching the prom scene from High School Musical, fantasizing the day I’d be able to get ready for “the night of nights.” Though when it came time for my first Homecoming dance, I quickly realized that it wasn’t the magical once-in-a-lifetime experience I had seen in those cliché teen movies, as I instead found myself crammed in a mosh pit drenched in sweat.

Although classic movies like High School Musical and Mean Girls paint a whimsical picture of high school dances like Prom and Homecoming, ultimately, they have created unrealistic expectations of these experiences. While school dances hold great significance and are some of the most highly-anticipated events throughout the school year, societal standards and stereotypes make school dances stressful and non-inclusive for many students. 

Here are five issues and solutions surrounding school dances:



While school dances foster great high school memories, many students cannot attend them because they cannot afford it, whether it be due to household circumstances or not having personal allowances or jobs. As students may wonder why ticket prices are so expensive, especially for Winter Formal and Prom, it is important to understand what goes into arranging the dances including decorations and venue fees.

Opportunely, SJHHS club Sponsor a Stallion recognizes this issue and provides help for students in need of financial assistance, aiming to give every person the chance to obtain a full high school experience. This year, the club gave away 22 tickets for Homecoming and 45 tickets for Winter Formal. 

“For each dance we do a ticket giveaway and we send out a form to all the teachers and they ask their students who is interested or if they would like a free ticket. The teacher will fill out the recommendation form for the students and the parents approve that,” said Sponsor a Stallion club president Abe Siegel. “We just want to make sure everyone has a chance to go to a dance.”



With fun school dances comes immense expectations on the “look.” Teens often hyper-focus on finding the perfect outfit or spending money on a brand new dress that is destined to collect dust in the corner of a closet once the dance is over.

Sponsor a Stallion gives students the opportunity to donate and take all kinds of formal attire for Homecoming, Winter Formal, and Prom such as shoes, dresses, dress shirts, purses and makeup. All attire is free for students to wear and keep, not only promoting inclusivity but also sustainability!

“The drive itself is really good for students because a lot of people only wear a dress or outfit once for a dance. If they donate here, it’s going to get reused and more students might get a really nice dress from it,” said Siegel. “In total we gave away 17 dresses, 2 suits, 3 dress shirts, 1 pair of heels, and 26 makeup bags [for Winter Formal].”



Along the same lines of being pressured to dress your best, many students also feel pressured to attend dances with a date. Hearing the buzz of who asked who and seeing others boast their proposals and matching corsages and boutonnieres on social media causes many individuals to feel obliged to have a date or end up feeling left out if they don’t have one.

In addition to the stress of asking somebody or being asked to a dance, many also feel pressured to say yes. Naturally, some people might fear rejecting someone or what others will think of them and who they’re going with. While many take proposals as the chance to be creative, the person on the receiving-end of the question may feel awkward or uncomfortable. 

First of all, there’s nothing wrong with not having a date! No one said that you can’t get matching corsages and boutonnieres with your friends or ask someone to a dance without an extravagant proposal. Don’t let the stigma about having to have a date define what you should or shouldn’t do.



For off-campus dances like Winter Formal and Prom, students are required to provide for their own transportation since there are no teacher/staff chaperones that drive students to the dances. Venues for these dances are often located 30-45 minutes away, making it difficult for some students to drive there themselves or arrange rides.

Consider carpool arrangements or even taking a limousine or party bus! While the cost of a limousine or party bus rental often falls on the pricier side, driving to the dance in a limo with a large group may offset the price, and make the night even more memorable.


Inclusivity of LGBTQ & gender non-conforming students

While their peers are worried about finding the perfect date and outfit for a dance, LGBTQ students often have to worry about and face the traditional norms and stereotypes of school dances. For example, due to the outdated norm of voting for a king and queen for these dances, transgender or gender-nonconforming students may feel discouraged or may even be restricted from running for homecoming or prom royalty. 

LGBTQ students are also often met by judgment and harassment for who they decide to take to a dance. Students may choose to attend the dance with a date of the same sex, but are often met with opposition and discrimination by their peers. 

Another problem LGBTQ students may face is attire. The traditional norm of girls having to wear dresses and guys having to wear suits restricts LGBTQ students who may want to dress differently or wear clothing that conforms to their gender identity.

Fortunately, Sponsor a Stallion’s formal drives also offer gender-neutral options. “We also changed the drive this year to be completely gender-inclusive. Last year it was a dress drive only, but we changed it to all formal wear this year,” said Siegel.

You have the right to express your gender and be free from discrimination and harassment from your peers and teachers. You have the right to wear whichever attire matches your gender identity. It is important to remember that there are laws protecting your rights to be yourself. 

If you suspect that you are being treated unfairly because of your gender identity or sexual orientation, consider reaching out to a trusted teacher or staff or get support from groups on campus such as Queer Alliance. 

Although school dances today are surrounded by outdated stereotypes, norms, and other issues, there are many resources available to students to help ease the pressures and provide everyone the opportunity to experience one of these memorable nights.