DJs, Dance and, um, Fashion
By LINDSAY BURLESON, 04/09/2008
Throw on your favorite taffeta and relive the magic of that senior year moment
If I say the word "prom" will you please continue to read? I swear it will be of interest.
Yes, it is "prom season," and chances are, you probably could care less. Unless you're a parent of a prom attendee? Then you should probably still have a care or two. I'm not some sort of prom expert (like those girls who manage to go to six different proms at four different schools), but I was Prom Queen at an otherwise uneventful prom.
I would say we think dances and traditions like this are stodgy and lame, but most of us like to at least have participated so that we can later reminiscence with other people about similarly hilarious prom antics.
Tulsa has two proms coming up in the next weeks, but unlike a regular prom with a horrible theme, a gymnasium filled with streamers, bad music and even worse dancing, these two proms showcase the fun parts of the night.
For several years now, Tulsa's alternative proms have catered to fun with a twist. One prom adds the emphasis of giving back to our society and another gives the LGBT community a place to party. Start picking out corsages and formalwear--it's time for the '80s Prom and Pride Prom.
Blue Eye Shadow Required
When I think of the combination of "1980s" and "prom," my mind drifts to the movie Pretty in Pink. Poor girl Andie, standing in her pink prom dress crafted from two other dresses, running after Blaine and leaving behind poor Duckie. I personally would have chosen James Spader's horrible Steff, but that's not the point. My point is that looking at this prom scene, you can understand why an '80s prom night would be so enjoyable.
The original idea to establish an annual '80s prom came to DJ Robbo, the '80s Prom originator. Throughout his years DJing throughout different Tulsa venues, he had several themed nights, including Pimps and Hoes. '80s Prom was by far the biggest attraction, and six years ago, it became an annual event. More than just an excuse to get dressed up and dance to "New Wave" and other '80s classic songs, the '80s Prom's focus, then and now, was to call attention to locally owned companies and to have a portion of the proceeds go to a local charity or non-profit. The first year brought out roughly 400 people and established this great niche in Tulsa's party circuit.
This year, '80s Prom is on Saturday, April 19 at The Marquee, downtown at 222 N. Main. You must be 18 to attend the event and 21 to drink. This year's fashionable sponsorship includes localites Louis and Cluck, Ra$pberry Grunt and Cheap Thrills Vintage, all of whom will be featured in a fashion show. A portion of the event's proceeds will go to the Nightingale Theater, "Tulsa's alternative venue."
Purchase tickets for '80s Prom in advance for $8 through www.myspace.com/1980sprom or at Starship Records & Tapes. Or you can buy tickets at the door for $10, but the posters warn that this event will sell out.
So, those are the logistics, but what can you expect once you get there? Well, besides dressed-up, drunk dancing, Robbo has rounded up six DJs to play the finest '80s music. There will be a RetroVision 13-feet wide video screen manned by two VJs playing '80s videos. And there is a King and Queen contest. Organizers will pass out 20 tickets to the best dressed people in the room and the whole audience will vote on the best dressed, dubbing them King and Queen. Partygoers can expect to win prizes like a weekend getaway, gift certificates to Ihloff Salon and Louis and Cluck tees.
While you can technically show up in your 2008 non-prom wear, Robbo said that in previous years roughly 95 percent of the partygoers were dressed up. No point in being the odd man (or woman) out. You need something '80s. I assumed, guessing on the name of the event and all, that this means '80s prom wear. Kris Torkelson, manager of Cheap Thrills says otherwise.
He has attended the event all six years and said, "You don't have to wear prom attire, you can go as a favorite '80s icon or just in '80s gear."
Robbo reaffirmed this, saying that while the girls typically do show up dressy, often the guys look more like Billy Idol or a cast member from Miami Vice.
Whatever direction you take, Tulsa's vintage stores can help guide you for totally rad wear to the most '80s accessories. This city has three on 15th Street: Deco to Disco at 1508 E. 15th, Silverscreen Vintage at 3232 E. 15th, and Cheap Thrills at 3018 E. 15th.
In addition to selling the goods, Cheap Thrills also rents out '80s outfits. Wherever you go, whatever you wear, girls don't forget to curl/crimp that hair, hairspray it high and shade those eyes 'til you hit the brow. And, of course, the bluer the better.
Living (or Reliving) the Magic
For some, prom is tongue-in-check, but sometimes prom really is about wanting to capture that traditional adolescent experience. Unfortunately, that experience isn't readily available to some youths, either through their own discomfort or through actual restrictions put in place by individuals or learning institutions. Eight years ago, members of the University of Tulsa's Bi Lesbian Gay Trans Alliance (BLBTA) were discussing the disappointment of not attending their proms. Through that discussion, the Pride Prom was crafted.
Eight years ago, when the first prom was held at TU's Allen Chapman Activity Center, the Pride Prom started off small, with only 30 people, including the staff. The event has exponentially grown, catering to nearly 500 people throughout the community. Three years ago, the Pride Prom outgrew the Allen Chapman Activity Center and organizers began to hold it in the Kathleen Westby Pavilion of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center at 110 E. 2nd St.
This year's event, starting at 7pm on Saturday, April 19, will allow people ages 16 to 25 a neutral place to experience this rite of passage and make lasting memories. Arianna Moore, treasurer of the TU BLGTA and coordinator of the Pride Prom, said that the reason for the wide age range is that it allows for both high school students and college kids (TU is presenting the event) to attend. Because of the age range, the event is alcohol-free, but smoking is designated in a specific area and punch is available to all.
The Pride Prom is kind of an alternative prom, but kind of not. It certainly has the wrapping of every other prom you've ever seen. There's a DJ, a dance floor and a photographer with on-site printing. There are, as Moore puts it, "classy cheesy" decorations to coincide with this year's theme, ¡Bailamos!
Attendees can opt to wear traditional prom attire, but it's not required. There's a dress code restricting torn jeans or shorts, but any presentable clothing is just as welcome as tuxedos and elaborate dresses. And not on the typical wearer, either. Moore said there are no gender specifications; anyone is welcome in a beautiful gown.
And truly, anyone is welcome. The TU BLGTA began this prom as a response to the discrimination gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students were facing at regular proms. Some high schools won't allow you to bring a same sex student as a date; others won't allow girls in tuxes or guys in dresses. While the BLGTA is excited to have Pride Prom posted on the outside of the PAC, they welcome everyone within the age limit to join the event.
Gay high school and college students are welcome to bring a date, significant other, just a friend or go stag, but straight couples and singles are also invited. Just as they don't agree with the restrictions placed at other events, the Pride Prom doesn't place its own gender or sexually based restrictions. For all prom participants, it's a safe (security is provided by Tulsa County) and fun event.
Unfortunately, the Oklahoma City Pride Prom will not occur this year. Tulsa's Pride Prom has extended an invitation to the capital city through a promotion with the OpenArms Youth Project (OYP), so expect more people. It's certainly the more the merrier during a party. Those interested in attending the Pride Prom can obtain tickets through the PAC's Web site, www.tulsapac.com, for $10 in advance or purchase tickets at the door for $12.
See? I told you this would be an interesting prom article. Now, go dance!