First off let me say this, I had a great time at prom but I was really bummed for the seniors because it was very rainy last Sunday.
I wrote about prom earlier this week. It’s a general overview that you might want to take a look at if you’re not familiar with the different American and Bulgarian traditions.
Traditionally students meet at the American College of Sofia at 6pm to take photos. They show up in expensive dresses and even more expensive cars and they pose for pictures for the better part of 90+ minutes with their family in tow. This year was no different only they were also armed with umbrellas in an attempt to ward off the driving rain.
It was pretty miserable but the students were jubilant opening bottles of champagne on the steps of Ostrander and smoking with abandon–two things that they are clearly not allowed to do as students. Needless to say, we didn’t stay outside very long and the pictures I snapped capture more umbrellas than dresses.
The actual prom was at the Grand Hotel Sofia but because, our students were a little late in booking a space for prom and most ballrooms around Sofia were booked the students negotiated a plan with the Grand Hotel Sofia to have to have prom outside under a tent but the rain forced us into a second floor conference room instead. The space was on the small side but the students seemed fine with it. There was enough space to dance, plenty to drink and a room to smoke in. Luckily teenagers are pretty easy to please.
Now I didn’t really know what to expect but I was preparing and bracing myself for something ridiculous. And not something a little ridiculous but something RIDICULOUS. I’d seen pictures, heard stories and experienced Bulgarian prom second hand.
Over the last four years, I’ve seen seniors in fancy cars decked out in balloons driving too fast and honking on the streets of Sofia. I’ve heard students counting from 1-12 as is the tradition of graduating students in Bulgaria. I’ve seen students dressed to the nines in five inch heels with hair that seems to defy gravity and make-up that seems to have been painted on who gathered at their respective high schools to take photos. I’ve seen kids the morning after prom in the parking lot of McDonalds still in their dresses. I’ve seen seniors show up at school the next day in rumpled and wilted suits and dresses after staying out all night drinking, dancing and smoking to wander the hallways.
Prom in Bulgaria has become such a spectacle that it garners a crazy amount of attention. The attention is mostly negative and highlights poor taste, big hair, big breasts and a dearth of clothing. Want to see what I mean? Bulgarian magazine Vice put together this photo collection. It highlights the extremes of the event.
In comparison our students were tame. Intricate braids and up-do’s reigned. There was no crimped hair to been seen. Ball gowns, cocktail dresses and party dresses were the rule rather than the exception. Many girls went for classic ball gowns with floor length skirts but there a huge amount of variety from roaring twenties style drop-waisted dresses, others for Grecian inspired draping and a few for 1950′s nipped waists with knee length full skirts. Dresses covered everything they were supposed to–I didn’t see a single dress that made me feel embarrassed for the wearer.
Boys by in large wore slim fitting suits in dark colors. Dress shirts were mostly white. There were some light blue shirts and fair number of boys in lavender dress shirts. In my mind, lavender was an unexpected choice but these boys looked great. A few boys went for the classic tuxedo shirt and bow tie but without a vest or cummerbund in a nod to the traditional while still looking fresh and modern.
I have to say that I thought everyone looked great and I was incredibly proud of them. There’s something to be said for making a choice to abandon the in your face, over the top sexiness that seems to be the tradition in Bulgaria for clothing that is still young, modern and sexy. It was just sexy in a more sophisticated way playing with curves, fit and cut. Bravo ACS Class of 2012!!
Sorry that I didn’t get better pictures of them–the weather and the venue were not very conducive for this. I also feel the need to walk a fine line regarding students’ privacy so the pictures I’ve posted are pretty basic and don’t single anyone out. I’m sure that you understand.
The part that was harder for me to get used to was the idea that I was at prom drinking with my students. Students would ramble over to say hello, give a toast and take a picture. More than one said to me: I can’t believe that I am here having a drink with my teachers. I know exactly what you mean. I also got a lot of: Ms. Emigh you look so–fill in the blank–pretty, nice, beautiful. I’ve never see you look like this before. Me: Aw. Thanks.
Sarcastic me wanted to say: funny how that works. I think it’s because I’ve never worn a slim fitting cocktail dress and three inch high heels to school before. I also tend to favor my glasses over contacts and at 6 o’clock in the morning when I’m getting ready for school I have very little interest in putting on make-up or doing much with my hair.
Anyhow, back to prom.
The whole event felt much more like a hybrid of a sorority formal and the first wedding reception you go to of friends who are marrying right out of university. Here’s what I mean, the energy was high, the music was loud, alcohol was following, the chicken was just okay and the young people all danced together while the older adults also danced next to the young people but not with them. The only thing missing was a formal photographer.
All in all, it was like no high school dance I’ve ever been to.
After the formal part of the night, students made their way to a night club. I bowed out on this. First because I had to teach the next day and second because I figured that I didn’t need to see the debauchery that my students were surely going to engage in. I didn’t want my last memory of the Class of 2012 to be a negative one.
I’d like to end on this note.
Dear Class of 2012, thank-you for inviting me to your prom. I had a wonderful time. I wish each of you the best as you head out into the world on this next step in your life and I look forward to hearing about each of your individual adventures!!