The Ultimate Guide to High School Dances

The Ultimate Guide To High School DancesI really didn’t think that I was the type of person that would enjoy school dances. I mean, I do love dancing, but I didn’t think my socially-awkward (In reality, I was much more of a quiet loner in elementary school. Ivy Prep was when I built up my confidence more, spoke up and made friends, but I digress) self would enjoy that type of thing. I wanted to go to at least one dance in my whole high school career because I never even bothered to go to any in middle school. I ended up going to the first dance in my freshman year and loved it. (I didn’t end up going to the second dance that year, but that was mostly because of laziness). I remember being so nervous about it. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. I was confused about convincing my parents to let me go, shopping for dresses, and everything after. I wasn’t the only one. My friends and I discussed how clueless we were all the time. I sort of just winged it (I was unaware of a certain entity called Pinterest at the time), and it ended up going really well. It was a load of fun. I’m writing this because I know that there is some freshman girl (or boy) somewhere who is as clueless as I was. These are things I really wish there was a guide for when I was a freshman. Hope you feel a bit at peace because of it. (There a few little personal stories intermixed with this post as well)

//Before the Dance//

//Ask your parents if you can go

In my freshman year of high school, my mom was a bit weary of me going to the Fall Dance (I went to nerd school, so we didn’t have “Homecoming”. No football team). My dad convinced her to let me go. But she said he had to stay parked in front of the school the whole time. I didn’t really mind because he didn’t really do anything. I’m not really embarrassed by my parents and he never went inside, so it was fine. Remember to ask your parents. I feel like most American parents would be excited, so something like that probably wouldn’t happen to you. Just tell them so that they can add the date to their schedule

//Buy Tickets

My school charged $8 if you buy them before the dance and $10 at the door. If you’re bringing a friend from another school, buy their ticket and put their name down as your guest. At GSMST, we were only allowed to bring one person outside of school.

I got into a lot of dances for free because I took pictures for yearbook, but of course, I actually had to take pictures and do interviews and stuff, so it wasn’t all just socializing. There was work to be done.

//Buy a Dress (Or a Suit, if you’re a guy)

This is what I panicked about the most in my freshman year because I literally hadn’t worn a dress since 2nd grade. I also went to a uniformed all-girls school for 3 years, so I didn’t know anything about clothes (still don’t really). I went to Macy’s with my mom the first time. Other times I went shopping with my friends.

  •  Don’t spend too much money!!!-Every upperclassman has this discussion with a freshman. I’ve heard so many people say, “I paid $80 for my freshman year dance and $15 for my sophomore year dance.” Some high schools may be a bit more fancy in terms of dresses, but mine wasn’t. Any dress can look classy if your hair and makeup look nice. And remember: It’s dark. Don’t clear your bank account in one day.
  • Same goes for guys– you can probably get away with nice pants and a button-down shirts (Us women are jealous), and a jacket maybe. And again, you don’t need to spend that much money.
  • Make sure you can wear it again. Don’t waste your money on something you will only wear once.
      • Just don’t worry about your appearance too much. Dressing up once in awhile is fun. You don’t need to be too excessive about it. Enjoy yourself.

//Plan Who You’re Going With

Let me start with this: YOU DON’T NEED A DATE. It is not a requirement in having fun at dances. In fact, there were more people at my school who didn’t have dates than did. I’ve been to dances with dates and without them. Both are fun and absolutely awesome. I am so lucky that I have awesome friends to do things with. Dances are no fun without them. I will talk more about this later in the “At the Dance Section.” Let’s just stick to planning right now.

      • Make plans with your friends– not all your friends will want to go and that’s fine. Make plans on meeting each other at school or getting ready together or going out to eat. I will elaborate on this more below.
      • Ask someone to the dance (If you want)– as I said above, dates aren’t necessary. I have had fun with and without dates at dances. If you like someone, just do it. It’s better to look back on life without any regrets. If they say yes, that’s awesome. If they say no, you can move on. Stop making things so complicated and take control of your life, darnit!
      • Stop waiting for someone to ask you– don’t wait around or ponder on (isn’t that just an awesome word: ponder. It has a nice ring to it) whether or not someone will ask you. I was never one to think about this stuff because, well, men are cowards. I don’t speak for all men, but I went to nerd school, with socially awkward geeks and very confident female STEM people (that is probably grammatically incorrect, but I stand by it). Nerd women are scary. What was my point again? Oh yeah. Don’t wait around. You have more important things to worry about. Like school!

//Plan where you’re going to go before or after the dance

  • How are you going to get there ( Who is your ride)
        • Are your driving?
        • Are your parents driving you?
        • Are you carpooling with a friend?
        • Is your date driving you?
  • Where are you getting ready
  • Your house?
          • If someone is coming over to get ready with you? If so, should you buy some snacks? Turn on a movie or some music?
  • Friend’s house?
          • Remember to bring everything you need: dress, shoes, jewelry, makeup, curling iron, am I forgetting anything?
          • This is also a fun option. I loved getting ready with my friends.
  • Are you going to eat dinner before or after the dance?

This depends on what plans you have with your friends or your date. My friends and I had a tradition where we go to Steak and Shake after every dance and eat chicken strips, fries, burgers, and ice cream. We did this every year after every dance (I went to 7 out of 8 of them). We just ate unhealthy fried food and talked. I wouldn’t end up getting home until after midnight. Those are some of my fondest memories. Being tired and sore from dancing for three hours and taking pictures for yearbook, then filling up on fried food and ice cream. One of my friends is allergic to peanuts, eggs, and bananas, and there’s a milkshake at Steak and Shake with all three ingredients and all of us laugh at the fact that everything she’s allergic to is in one food. I’ll stop digressing.

        • Just because I always ate dinner after dances doesn’t mean you have to. Not everyone can put off dinner until 10 PM. And not all parents are willing to take their 14-year-olds (when we were freshmen. It was fine when we could drive ourselves) to eat that late. Plenty of people go out to eat before dances. Just make sure to plan when you are going to dinner so that you have time to get ready and get to the dance on time.

//What are you doing after?

        • Going home?
          • This is what I usually did after eating out with my friends. I didn’t usually get home until around midnight (as I said above).
        • Going to a restaurant?
          • Like I said, I always went to Steak and Shake after dances with some of my friends
        • Watching a movie
          • This is what we did after prom
        • Sleeping over at a friend’s house
          • So this happened at a dance in junior year. My parents were really tired and didn’t think it was safe to pick me up that late (That is how tired they were), so I had an impromptu sleepover at my friend’s house. I discovered that she snored.

//Figure out what you’re doing for hair and makeup

  • Make Appointments (If you want)– I personally didn’t go out and get my hair done anywhere. I just did my hair at home. I’m all for saving money on stuff like that. You can apply your own makeup and do your hair. You can have a friend do it or your mom. I’ve done all three. Some people like to do that stuff, but I feel that splurging isn’t necessary. You don’t have to make an elaborate plan early on, but here are a few things you should think about pre-dance.
  • Hair– Do something different from what you do normally. In my freshman year, I wore my hair in a braid every day. This isn’t an exaggeration. Literally every day. As in, my name in sign language is “braid” with a “T.” (Generally a deaf person names you based off of how they remember you, and a hard-of-hearing student named me after that, but I digress). Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, the dance was the only day I let my hair out. My hair is naturally straight, so I didn’t do anything with it. I just let it out and I looked so different. Everyone thought I put in effort, but I seriously didn’t do anything.  When I cut my hair short (which basically means I chop it all off when it reaches my waist, like always), I curled my hair for dances. You see, you don’t need to do anything elaborate. If you keep your hair down all the time, put it up. If you have curly hair, straighten it. You don’t need to book hair appointments or anything. Keep it simple. If you do something different, it’ll automatically look festive.
  • Makeup– You know how much makeup you normally wear. I didn’t really wear makeup in my first three years of high school (Granted because I didn’t own much and I sucked at it. Looking back, I probably looked really weird on my first date because I TRULY didn’t know what I was doing) I barely wore any makeup in my Freshman year. When I was 16, my aunt taught me how to properly put on makeup and I slowly got better. In my senior year, I wore it more (still very sporadically). If you wear makeup every day, you probably will want to go with something a bit more bold for dances. If you’re like me, putting minimal makeup will probably be enough for you. Just keep a mental note about what you want to do about makeup.
  • Nails– I don’t really paint my nails. I did it a few times for dances, but it wasn’t a huge priority. If you want to put on nail polish, think of what colors you want to match your dress. If you’re like me and don’t own nail polish, borrow some from a friend. (That’s what I always did)
  • Shoes– Boots. That is all I wore to dances. I’m a southern gal, born and raised in Georgia, so those are what I’m most comfortable in. There are logistical reasons as well. I’m 5’9’’ so heals aren’t the greatest idea (which sucks because I’m that weird person that likes  and can walk in heels). Also, flats are uncomfortable. Boots are what I recommend.
  • Mini Rant– A friend of mine and I have this rant where we say that only southerners have enough sass to pull off boots. Down here in Georgia, you can tell whether or not you are from here based off of how you wear boots. We say that when we go to New York and see people wearing boots, we internally cringe. Reading this now, this may be a wee bit exaggerated, but we truly do rant about this. We are not the only ones that say this. There is just something about being born in the south that makes you look good in boots. Ok. Rant over. (For now. This will probably come up again)  
  • Jewelry– Think about what jewelry you are going to wear. Wear something you own or buy something new if you want. I can’t control how you spend your money. I’m just the type of person who wears the same jewelry regularly.

//Day of the Dance//

//Go to where you’re getting ready, if anywhere?

Sometimes I’d get ready at home and sometimes I’d go to a friend’s house. It depended on the plan and who was driving.

//Get ready


//Head to the dance or to dinner, if you did that first

As you read above, you should make a plan.

//Hang out with friends and your date

That is the best part about dances

You should hang out with both your friends and your date. You made a commitment to hang out with your date, so you should be with them at least half the time. The other half should be with your friends. And both.

  • Mini story– So after a slow dance, Single Ladies came on and my boyfriend at the time nudged me towards my friends and told me to dance with them and left, saying “you gotta be single” and raised his eyebrows. I felt so grateful that he was like that. I would have talked with him, but I know that my girlfriends appreciated me being there (Also, one of our guy friends left his girlfriend to dance to this with us. It was so fun.)
  • Note: Dancing to Single-Ladies when you are in a relationship is not that fun.
  • Moral of the story: Spend time with everyone you love. Don’t prioritize one over the other. Because all these people are still a part of my life and those memories are cherished.

//Dance and Sing along to the music

I also love doing this. Don’t be that person who stands to the side because they think they can’t dance. Being dorky and having fun is the point of it all.

In my freshman year, I discovered that American dancing is basically jumping and pumping your fists. If you can do that you’re solid. I don’t do only that, but whatever floats your boat.

//Eat food

Soda. Cookies. Gummy Bears. Who could ask for more. (Of course there is more food than that, but you can see what my priorities are)

//Take pictures

I was in Yearbook, so I took a lot of pictures. I just wasn’t in most of them. I always ended up regretting not taking enough pictures with my friends at the end of the night at almost every school event. I love looking back at old pictures, so I prioritized taking more personal pictures. Not just yearbook.

Have a photo shoot. They are surprisingly fun and you’ll get a lot of good photos with a ton of funny looking ones.

//After the Dance//

I already talked about these in depth in the “Planning” section. You can read my personal stories there. Other than that, these three options are pretty self-explanatory.

  • Go out to dinner with friends
  • Head home
  • You can have a sleepover

//Staying Safe

    • I was never really involved in things like drinking alcohol or doing drugs. I’m just not that type of person. Even if I preach how dangerous that stuff is, I don’t think it’ll help much. Just remember all the basic safety/common-sense stuff like:
  • Don’t drink and drive
  • Be careful about taking drugs
  • Don’t walk off into dark alleys
      • Please don’t smoke. It won’t cause any immediate danger, but come on! There are way too many reasons for you to stop.
        • Random Story: My AP Biology teacher in my sophomore year told us that the first time he hosted a GSMST prom, he saw a group of boys go out to the patio and play cards. You heard me. Play cards. My teacher told them to go inside and have fun at their prom, but he was really thinking about how at his old school, he had to always go outside to stop the students from smoking. Reasons I love Nerd School!
  • Keep your phone on so that your parents can contact you
  • If you choose to have sex, be safe
  • There is probably a ton more stuff, but I’m a huge goody-two-shoes and don’t really know what happens at regular high schools. But really, the best safety advice I can give is to NOT DO THINGS THAT CAN KILL YOU.

That’s all I can say about that. I hope I helped you with planning for dances. Those are truly some of my favorite memories of high school. I also hope you learned more about me as a person. Until next time my loves.


Is there anything I missed? What’s your favorite high school memory?

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