It Just Might Work: A punk prom, for adults

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eric headshotby Eric Ginsburg

My high school didn’t have a prom — we had an inclusive annual affair called “Boat Dance” on an actual boat in Boston Harbor — but that didn’t stop me from making it to the big ball.

You should’ve seen me.

My junior year I was dating a senior from a different school, the one I now refer to as “my high school girlfriend” even though we only dated for a year. I had long since discovered punk by then, but our relationship was forged at basement shows, anti-war protests and film screenings at an anarchist bookstore. It’s to Laura’s credit, or really her dad’s, that I know who Gang of Four are, and she’s the one I first made a ’zine with.

It was with great pleasure that we crashed the prom at her all-girls high school. Sure, we were invited, and straight-edge too, but like any good teen punks, our looks were enough to distinguish us. She rocked a polka-dot dress that she had made herself — doesn’t get more punk than that. My DIY game wasn’t as strong, but what I came up with was pretty out there.

Underneath a patterned blazer, an ill-fitting piece I likely picked up at the legendary pile of clothes inside the Garment District in Cambridge, I rocked an anti-Bush T-shirt that said “American Psycho.” (I had not seen the film by the same name released a few years earlier, though — I was too busy watching documentaries.)

I borrowed my sister’s studded belt, no doubt from Hot Topic, for added effect and rounded out the ensemble with a clip-on red bowtie.

But what everyone who sees a picture of Laura and me on prom night comments on first is my long, straight black hair with a splotch of pink right in front. We had dyed my hair in my bathroom — after my dad had previously made me sign a contract that I would pay to replace the hallway carpet if any dye or bleach landed on it. And by junior year, I knew how to tame my wild mane of curls so they’d fall more closely in line with my desired Kurt Cobain look: shaving cream.

Yep, that’s right. I combed shaving cream into my hair, and when it dried it functioned like a less aromatic version of gel. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect from a horror punk, even though I always considered myself more nondenominational and preferred Leftover Crack to the Misfits.

What a freak.

We had fun at prom in spite of the music and more mainstream friends, but I dreamed of a more democratized gala, one unleashed from specific schools but still a step above the “dancing” that happened at underground punk venues. Is a punk-rock prom the kind of thing we could pull off now that we’re adults?

Pink-haired Eric would punch me for suggesting something only accessible to a certain age bracket, so maybe there’s a way to keep such a thing out of a bar or to have multiple rooms geared towards different age groups. But regardless of the details, someone should step up and organize a quasi-formal dance, replete with punk anthems and ridiculous get-ups, somewhere in the Triad.

I know I didn’t invent this idea. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if this has happened around here before. But it’s time for another, here, on a grand scale.

People responded enthusiastically when I suggested ’90s dance-party nights in these pages months ago, and several of you vowed to take action though nothing formal has come to fruition. I’m hoping this idea will light a fire and remind you of that preceding idea as well; the bottom line is, the local dancing options are incredibly limited, and most of what we do have sucks. So let’s do it ourselves.

How punk rock is that?

  • Can we do that in High Point? I would love such an event here in this ghost town.

  • Last year I organized the Classless Reunion ( https://triad-city-beat.com/the-weekender-june-13-15-dazed-and-confused-edition/ )and was planning to throw a similar bash year to be called “Pretty in Punk” – sometime in the fall ? Last year I ended up with lots of work and cant carry the load this year so would only be able to move the ball if some helpful punks or sponsors can join me. Your idea is a great one and it could be one for the memory books. Somebody chase me down and let’s dig out the Sex, and Drugs, and Rock, and Roll!

    • That’d be great. I hope there are some folks out there who would join you in the organizing. You know how punks (and ex-punks) are though haha

  • Pics or it didn’t happen. ;)

  • Hiccup Jones

    Didn’t Geeksboro have one a few years ago?

  • In case I can get Sid and Nancy revived we will be partying someplace in Oct-Dec. http://www.TriadPunk.com will have details.