High school proms get granderJake Barrientos thought about repainting Barn Bluff to ask Stefanie Orr to prom this year. But a fear of slipping kept the Red Wing High School senior on the ground.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
Jake Barrientos thought about repainting Barn Bluff to ask Stefanie Orr to prom this year. But a fear of slipping kept the Red Wing High School senior on the ground.
Instead he just made a giant sign that said "Stef - Prom?" and stealthily placed in the back of their first-hour class.
"I was really surprised. I didn't see him (put up the sign). He was kind of a ninja," Orr said.
And yet, Barrientos' tamer plan is a far cry from what happened 35 years ago. Shelley Orr, Stefanie's mother, said when her date asked her to the prom in her native Bemidji, Minn., it was more of just a passing conversation.
"We'd been dating for a long time. Our prom was not a big deal," Shelley said.
The same goes for Julie Wright, whose daughter Jenna was also asked with an elaborate sign.
"When we were in high school (in Red Wing), Jim and I had gone out for awhile. So we just decided to go prom as a couple," she said.
The more creative and elaborate ways guys find to ask their dates out is not the only thing that has changed since this year's prom-goers' parents went. Here are a few of the other ways the annual formal dance has changed in the past three decades.
Jim and Julie Wright went to prom in the late 1970s. Then, one of the biggest trends, Julie said, was to have the guy's suit match the girl's dress.
"It was a trend to match completely," she said.
"We looked like bananas," Shelley Orr said of her and her date's matching head-to-toe yellow ensembles.
Some couples even took the monochromatic theme a step further.
"If we were lucky, we tried to match the car to the dress," Shelley said.
That's a trend that this year's seniors say has (thankfully) died. Now, guys just match their vests or ties to their date's dresses. Or, more accurately, the girls pick out their dates' clothes to match their dresses.
"After (you ask them to go with you), the girls take care of the rest," Red Wing senior Tom Rother said.
"We just want them to look good," Jenna Wright explained.
Hair and makeup
Today, girls spend hours getting ready. Spray tans, manicures, professional makeup and hair styling all play a part.
The same can't be said for Julie and Shelley.
"There was none of that. We did our own make up. Curled our own hair. The style in the 70s, everyone pretty much had flat, straight hair," Julie said.
But for the guys, not much has changed; pre-prom prepping has remained fairly simple.
"I'll get a haircut the day before," Barrientos said.
"I'll shower, shave, get a haircut. It's simpler than girls," Jenna's date Travis Carlson said.
Shelley Orr said that now, taking photos is almost as big as the grand march itself. "Pictures are a big deal," she said.
In recent years, prom-goers start getting their hair and makeup done as early as 8 a.m. Then they go to friends' houses, local landmarks and other places to take photos. Shelley said the photo-taking sessions can last as long as three hours.
It's something completely absent from Shelley's prom experience. "We didn't do pictures," she said.
Julie Wright doesn't remember posing for the camera too much either. "I found two pictures (of prom). It was very much low key," she said.
Julie and her prom date, Jim, will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary this year. To see daughter Jenna now going to prom brings back a lot of memories not found in those old photos, she said.
"It's their first big adult experience. You want them to have better than what you had. To have a fun and be safe," Julie said. "And take more than two pictures."