Sweet Sixteen


Two of my cousins have both turned sixteen this year and have had their school proms this week. I’m so green with envy right now, how come we didn’t have proms in my day? I was sixteen only 7 years ago and so much has changed in that time. When I was sixteen we nearly had a prom but it didn’t happen and even if it had, I don’t think it would have been what proms are today.

They both looked gorgeous in their gowns and it looked like they had a fabulous time. The girls go to different schools but both proms were held at the Hilton Hotel in Cardiff. They both had their hair styled and make-up applied professionally, one opted for a spray tan too. They both had fancy cars to take them and their friends to the hotel. Even though it was a little bit ‘My big fat gypsy wedding’ both my cousins and their friends looked young and innocent.

To be fair Mrs Gregory the PE teacher did try to arrange a prom for our last year in comprehensive school. I remember it was going to be held at the school and it would be something like £25 a ticket, there was going to be a non-alcoholic cocktail bar and a disco. There wasn’t much excitement for it and £25 a ticket seemed a bit steep. There had never been a prom before and I think this was before MTV started making TV programs showing how it was done. We were all a bit too cool for a school disco. Instead my school friends and I got hold of some alcohol somehow, met up on the last day of school and got mortally drunk down the bottom of the school field. Someone somewhere probably has photographic evidence but I’m sure we didn’t look glitzy and glam in the slightest. By the time we were all sixteen we had pretty much all been out to the pub and some of us had even been as far as Newport clubbing. How the hell did we get away with it? When I look at the prom pictures the girls look their age and in person they seem their age. Maybe I’m getting old but I cannot imagine them going out all hours and drinking in nightclubs, they just don’t look old enough. There seems to have been a culture change in the last 7 years for the better.

In the UK we have taken on various American traditions and mostly they are seen as ways to get us to spend more money. The prom is no exception but actually it is one that I really approve of. Sixteen is such a funny age; just on the cusp of adulthood but still a child. It is an exciting time when you can get a job, gamble, you could smoke then but that’s changed now and you could also have sex. But really the biggest part of your life are your friends and when you finish your GCSE’s it is probably the last time you will spend with all your classmates all together. The people who you have been with day in day out for many years. What a great time to celebrate!

My cousins will probably now how a lovely night to remember and look back on in years to come. Thank you America for that!

I hope the proms are still in fashion if/when I have a daughter as I would love to be part of that experience, not the actual going part but the finding a dress and getting dolled up part. After all who hasn’t watched Grease and wished that was actually their school!?

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