The floor is full of boys and girls. The lights turn dim, but they still dance. The notable opening  guitar chords of Spandau Ballet's "True" is heard. The mood turns slow. I open my hand to a simply pretty girl, and she does hold it. Those speakers are already blurting out the song's "Huh-huh-huh-huuuuuh-huh...", together with those soothing keyboards. I and the girl dance. And it is a moment to cherish, an event that just last for some time.

Well, that didn't really happen. I just thought it would happen that way.

But prom did happen—that first of the twice-in-a-lifetime event that only occurs in your high school life, and in your adolescence. It's a unique happening in your life as a student wherein you do anything in your power to socialize, dance either with your crush or simply a friend, party as long as you want, and be the man or woman you are. It is where everything turns formal, hopefully not as formal as my acquaintances perceive me.This is an event that most teenagers won't surely miss, whether they have a prom date or not. And this one I waited during third year, and it happened.

"Whenas in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then, methinks, how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes!

Next, when I cast mine eyes and see
That brave vibration each way free;
O how that glittering taketh me!"
—The Poetry of Dress II by Robert Herrick

For me, I was surprised at how my classmates and friends appeared that day. I saw them in their daily lives in their simplicity and meekness. But then at prom I saw men in their suits, vests, and polos and ties and gelled hairs, and women in their dresses and gowns..and in straight, twisted, or rebonded hairs. And wow! They looked as handsome and as beautiful as they are, like queens..princes..princesses..dukes..duchesses..or whatever. I was attracted by their handsomeness and beauty. Therefore, promenade turns every boy and girl from ordinary to extraordinary, to ladies and gentlemen, and you'll be surprised.
The twentieth of February, two thousand and thirteen. It all began at around 1400 hours. Thanks to a brother-like friend, I reached that place—Terrazas de Teodora Resort, at Dita, City of Santa Rosa, Laguna—together with a classmate through my friend's family's car without having to be embarrassed of what I wore. My attire that afternoon was simply a blue long sleeve, a red striped necktie, and a gray vest with a small corsage fastened to it (yes, men have corsage too). I came to that place as my simple self, ready to experience a great night I hope I would really cherish. I realized in the passing hours that my attire was nice that I'm proud of it.

Like others who were there earlier, I waited for a program to start. I also expected people to enter the premises and reveal themselves in their extraordinary selves. I came to look for classmates and friends, and, of course, the person I trusted with a chance of having my concern, my assistance, my companionship(well, the first three wasn't necessary that day), and my dance—the person they call as promdate. 

Actually, my decision of who'll be my promdate changed from time to time, but then I came to a point when I finally concluded who would that be. The hard thing, though, was this: when would I really ask that someone? My school life at that time was not easy after all. In contrast to other men, after all the work and responsibilities dumped on me, I found it hard to take time to even at least plan the asking (I don't like to call it proposal). Yes, it could just have been a simple ask, but most of the time even a simple thing like that is given an effort: flowers, support from friends, and gifts (we call them 'suhol'...I want to refer them as 'dowry'. Just joking!).

Nonetheless, I simply asked. I did really called my friends to plan about it one afternoon, but at that moment they insisted me to just do it. So no much effort. Just words. And the million dollar question: will you be my promdate? I think I failed at that. I said 'can' instead of 'will'...That sudden burst of feelings! It took a long time before I got the answer, and I realized I haven't heard the answer much. And the answer was yes.

1600 hours passed, and so the JS prom started at last. Well, it was much expected that partners are to be together at that procession, but it didn't happen to us. I asked her lately, February, when everything was already settled. We aren't even at the same table. But anyway, it doesn't have to be, as our History teacher told our section when finalizing our seating arrangements for prom. It's fine with me. So I had a fellow man, a friend, to be with me entering that whole range of seats and tables...the floor where all the joy and fun would happen in the following hours.

Since I was the president of third year's "first" section(the prominent among the sections), I was blessed to be a part of the ceremonies. First, I was with the president of 4th year's first section in the opening prayer. It was also a fail in the start. There was a technical difficulty. But it all went well thereafter. I could call it a success, nonetheless. Then, I, together with other 3rd year presidents, lit candles to fellow third year students, and so the same with the graduates. I struggled a bit, fighting against the wind blowing the flame in the candle I'm holding, and the candle itself throwing off wax on my skin. Finally, the turnover ceremonies. Here, objects symbolizing values to uphold were turned-over from the 4th year to us 3rd year presidents, as well as to our third year representative in our supreme student government.

And I was free to enjoy the rest of that day at last. Even at the least. There were formal dances...and a casual one...Then a well-cooked, succulent dinner was served. Bon appetite! Plus, some music performed by selected juniors and seniors. Evening has come.

And so that energetic feeling, that persona who wants to party, who desires to have fun in something he knows lasts for but a while. That includes the readiness to engage in putting my feet on the floor and move them in any way I want. To enjoy my youth, my third year life even once in a while...I guess prom is one way of turning it well, of suiting up after all the work, all the studies, and all the hardships. Even for once in a while.

The sky turned dark blue...then black, and the lights and lampposts around the wide area were lit. The fun has just started. People are now taking out their cameras and started picturing everywhere. So flashes have also sparked the night. There were solo photos, photos at the table, group photos, section photos (oh thank goodness there was!), pictures at the table, pictures near the pool, pictures with teachers, and what else but promdate pictures. Of course, I wouldn't let myself without any picture! So I joined with anybody of my tablemates and fellow batchmates, classmates, and former classmates to document how I was at that night, that at least I enjoyed it.

So, there were also pictures of my promdate and I. They are just simple pictures of us, but it indicated to me, once they were taken, while young folks are noticing us, that she's a bit shy. I observed at that moment that it was quite different from her other picture takings with others, because I couldn't figure out if she resembles enough a long bar or a closed parenthesis. But never mind, I thought, I'll remain settled and enjoy whatever comes out of this prom. The picture takings continued and people enjoyed it.

After much and much of those, the program continued at last. The emcees started announcing special awards. This was an interesting segment, because it showed to the whole crowd those third year and some fourth year men and women who were the artist, bookworm, singer, dancer, musician, or ate and kuya of the year. The awards were just so many, so I cannot remember all of them; but I surely remembered the awards for prom prince and princess as well as prom king and queen. I remember them for they would initiate the longest, fanciest, and most noted part of the promenade—the dance.

After a long enough wait and glancing at the equipment used by the audiomen there, the floor was finally ours. The prom king and queen, and prince and princes started dancing, though there's a notion of shyness. Other pairs followed thereafter. The music started playing..beating..and dancing, and so the lights. The floor started to be filled. I decided to get off and start lending my hand to her.

Supposedly, the first and last dance of that night is with the promdate, as they say and believe. However, I realized it wouldn't be possible. I, among her tablemates who were about to tease her, gave her a pack of 3 Ferrero Rochers and offered her to dance with me. She accepted the chocolates, but she refused the offer. She told me she just don't like yet, that she's not in the mood yet. I gently kept asking why, though I could still sense she's shy. So I let her with her decision. She would dance with me later, anyway.

"We can dance if we want to
We can leave your friends behind
'Cause your friends don't dance and if they don't dance
Well they're no friends of mine
I say, we can go where we want to
A place where they will never find
And we can act like we come from out of this world
Leave the real one far behind
And we can dance"
—Safety Dance, Men Without Hats

That left me with a choice to search for someone to dance with. After a few while, after crowding my own self at the compressed crowd on the floor, I finally found someone to dance with. Then, I'll find someone again, feeling like a character in a movie, hopelessly finding for a friend or son. Then I'll sway with someone. Then stop. Then find, dance, and stop..So did the songs stopped..The cycle was that until the mood turned to that mood you'll have if you play Just Dance. "Gangnam Style" started playing, and it was time to party to the max.

"Say, we can act if want to
If we don't nobody will
And you can act real rude and totally removed
And I can act like an imbecile"
—Safety Dance, Men Without Hats

It was now time for me to fuse my hyperactive charges and take this limited opportunity to dance freely and forget other things. It was a hyperactive charge that I almost forgot myself, but I just danced together with wacky and energetic classmates..even though I'm just dancing with myself. I moved my feet and went crazy over the dance craze, like our senatorial candidates this upcoming elections. I also did when "Harlem Shake" boomed around the dancefloor. I just danced and shook as if no one's watching. I became as rare as I was that night. I guess I became similar to a partying Finn on Adventure Time. I just went on shaking it up and turning around. I made an effort to enjoy the night and get out of my stresses.

It wasn't soon until the mood flipped back to slow and warm. I once again continued dancing with friends and some classmates, talking to them and even turning them around.

At last, after a few dances, I had the chance to dance with my promdate, who had a nice dress that night. I didn't know if I'll be happy or not, because as we swayed there were still those pinches of self-consciousness. I can't contemplate her countenance. It seems different. It seems unusual. It looked bizarre to me...I felt that she felt awkward of me there dancing with her. I didn't know if she was glad or not, if she appreciated it or not, though I ask her over and over again if she's okay and she answers yes. I still felt that way. It seems different again...But then I just let go of it. After we stopped dancing, I found more and more people to dance and talk to. I took delight in taking these opportunities.

Especially when I finally stumbled upon another opportunity to offer a dance with a nice friend I knew since second year. She was just there on their table, almost near ours, seated and chatting. I finally went through and gave her a pack of 3 Ferrero Rochers that my money could only afford, and greeted her a happy birthday. She's so blessed. 2 blessings on one package: a new year added to her life, and a prom to attend, which resembles a debut party(haha).

After granting a gift to and greeting her, I offered her a dance. And she positively agreed. How nice! I had been so happy to see someone accepting my plea with friendliness. And so I held her hand as we went through the floor, and so we slowly danced, gracefully swayed, and constantly talked, complementing her for she looked pretty that night in her simplicity and her fine dress. That was a moment that I could commend to be a moment I appreciated a lot that night. I thank her so much!

The evening continues to move and pass. The dance continued, although there was a brief stop for section-by-section photoshoot. Everything passes as slowly as it could. I went on the floor and back to our table for many times...when the clock was nearing 10pm. After a lot of swing, sway, to and fro, promenade is about to end.

The dances to follow would be my last dances, and the last songs would be played. Does it always have to be one last dance? I rushed, once again, to my prom partner for this opportunity, and she did accept the favor. We danced, and I felt that we moved our feet fast. I didn't really know what's with her. I became confused again, doubting why it has to be this way. Yes, I do respect her. It's just that I weirdly felt somewhat perplexed.

My thoughts somewhat ran like this: Why did she look timid, when I'm just being friendly? Is she thinking of this as something inappropriate? Compared to others, I think I'm the only one whom she is timorous of. Is it really that way when two people aren't as much close as classmates? I think so. I'm just being friendly here, a friend that I can be. So I asked her even though we can't be close, and I did what I can to ask her to be my promdate, and for a dance, hopefully to make her feel glad and appreciated. That her gloominess upon having no partner yet might be aided to put some smile. Just like that. Then why this awkwardness? My thoughts also made me felt that I'm so aggressive, or selfish. But again, something struggles against it.

I just felt so complicated, felt that I was drawn back, yet glad for her acceptance, and for all the dances I had that night, with her, with others, and especially with the birthday girl with whom I had the longest dance with. I decided that this night ought not to be ruined.

Therefore, I enjoyed the sweet, calm evening in the best way I could. I also wanted to dance again with the birthday girl, yet her feet ached (I should have helped). Last 3 songs, and I had got chances for last dances. David Cook's "Always Be My Baby", if I'm correct, was the last song played. And the night has finally ended.

The prom reminded me of a movie
from the 80s entitled Pretty In Pink,
wherein prom is a big part of the story
Back at home from another friend's car, I reflected on all that happened while listening to Jam 88.3. There was a mix of joy, puzzlement, excitement, confusion, and delight. But among them all was gratitude and contentment, that I successfully had my first experience of an event as rare and extravagant as promenade, that I had much dances, that I had a chance to dance with a prom partner. There was nothing left for me to do but to just accept everything that I had gone through that night, and just let my prom partner as she is, because people are people whatever they look or appear to you. Nothing left for me to do, but to be thankful to God. Sometimes we speculate or portray people, or I say, judge them, until we find out soon that our speculations are false. Sometimes we really misconceive or misunderstand things. We just have to understand them.

Also, it's somewhat sad and a bit annoying when people perceive prom, and promdates as something romantic. It is not always like that, and it shouldn't be all the time. It's not supposed to be like that. Some, and much people like me are finding and proposing for prom dates in a friendly manner, not as if we're asking someone to be our girlfriend or some sort of it. And I'm doing it, and I'm dancing with fellow students for the fun of it.

I also prefer the phrase "prom partner" rather than prom date. The later's cheesy. But I guess, if you'll use the earlier one, especially in a prom proposal (ehem..asking), you'll seemingly look formal, because the term itself is much terminal and formal, isn't it? I'm still wondering if promdates are necessary, if you really have the chance to dance with anybody.

In the end, promenade was simply a mark of my adolescence. It did remind me of the movie Pretty In Pink, which involves a prom. I believe it's a nice movie that I want to watch it soon. Prom showed me how I'm maturing so far, of how friendly I could be, of my appreciation of the opposite gender, and of how a night can be delightful. And of how complicated my life, mind and emotions are, for growing up is such a mixed process, but we can enjoy it anyway.

How young and twisted I am!

"Don't try to understand everything, 
because sometimes it's not meant to be understood, 
but to be accepted."
—a Facebook post.


You have just read another school life story. I hope you're already contented with what was written. To whom it may concern, please, don't make gossip. It's not good. Hope you've enjoyed (or even learned from) it. Thank you so much! 

Here's a song I want to share. From a dynamic Filipino band, Up Dharma Down, who recently released a new album entitled "Capacities". A music blog called it as "a soundtrack to going home after a night out clubbing". For me it's also that way, like a soundtrack to prom, or going back home after prom. That's why I'll share one of it's tracks. "Night Drops", which makes a great flow of sounds, with dynamic transitions from relaxing tunes to clubby feel generated by keyboards and beats. Hope you like it!


All pictures in the post, most of which were modified to collages, are courtesy of Google Images.

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