For high school seniors looking forward to graduation day and all the freedom and fear that follows, and for other students closing out the school year, the prom offers a way to let off steam, say goodbye to old friends, flirt with old or new acquaintances and cause Mom and Dad a lot of stress. To celebrate prom season, three Generation Next writers let loose on their prom experiences while a fourth explained why he didn’t go.

A magical night of firsts

By Niveditha Bala

Because I’d heard so many horror stories about prom, I had prepared to experience a prom that was either boring or deserted. What I got, however, was an amazing and memorable experience with my friends and classmates that left me excited for future proms.

Mandela International Magnet School’s first-ever prom took place at SITE Santa Fe last week. It aimed to honor Mandela’s first graduating class, and it was also my first prom. Our school is small enough that instead of prom being just for upperclassmen, it was for all high school students.

I don’t have anything to compare the experience to, but I think Mandela’s first prom was amazing, and it was clear a lot of time and effort had been put into organizing the event. There was an indoor dance area, a courtyard and a balcony strung with fairy lights. The theme — that we were visiting an elegant ballroom — manifested itself in crystal chandeliers and roses and baby’s breath scattered around the room. Best of all, the admission tickets sparkled when you held them at a certain angle.

The tickets were also reasonably priced. While some schools’ prom tickets range upward of $30, Mandela’s prom tickets cost $25 for singles and $40 for couples. This cost included admission, food and a professional portrait for each person or couple. Items on the menu included mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto, salami and bacon; meatballs; fruit kebabs; caramel-filled brownies — my personal favorite; and lemon squares. There was also pink lemonade served in actual glass cups, a touch that everyone was obsessing about.

Since the prom was held at SITE Santa Fe, we were allowed to walk around the museum and explore the artwork. There happened to be an opera-themed exhibition at the same time, and the snippets of opera we heard, as well as the exhibits around SITE Santa Fe, which included rooms reminiscent of French aristocracy, really added to the ambiance of the prom.

Perhaps the best part of the night for me was seeing everyone carefree and happy, and beautifully dressed. As a matter of fact, I felt underdressed — my dress didn’t match the theme at all. But when the music came on, everyone was dancing. No one cared that no one really knew how to dance. Prom was especially beautiful to see the class of 2019 enjoying its iconic senior prom as the first-ever graduating class.

Though several people warned me about the dangers and downsides of prom, I found that Mandela’s prom did a really great job of addressing any concerns. The teachers weren’t overbearing, no one got into trouble or did anything crazy, and no students were allowed to go to their vehicles without a teacher escort to ensure everyone got home safely.

Niveditha Bala is a sophomore at Mandela International Magnet School. Contact her at

Prommed out

By Gabriel Biadora

“Let’s get a breath of air,” I told my friend after spending several hours at St. Michael’s High School’s junior prom. As we settled outside, the melancholia did as well. We both thought back to the beginning of the dance — when our eyes were wide with hope, our stride rhythmic with confidence and our hearts leaping with conviction. The venue was decorated with beautiful ornaments and filled with beautiful people. Music vibrated through every cell, every atom.

“Now it’s time to get funky! To the right, now, to the left!”

I was a happy teenager, participating in the teenage indulgence of teenage dancing and teenage singing. Romance, or the teen version of it, filled the air.

But as the night crawled on, I danced not so much to the rhythm of the music but rather to the boredom of my soul. The “Cha-Cha Slide” was playing, but I felt a silence stir in me. It all became superficial.

“Can you go down low? All the way to da floor?”

The answer was yes.

Sweat perpetuated the humidity in the room. Makeup was melting off faces, the boys were perspiring AXE body spray. Yet, with all this heat there lacked warmth, like the desert at night. There was no heart in the dances, just flesh and hormones. The dances were able to groove and move my body, but failed to stimulate my mind.

Prom was a failed attempt to escape the monotony of my life. And it was the same for my friend. After I asked him if he wanted to take a breather, we found chairs to sigh and sink into. He asked me why my face was the way it was — long and sunken. I asked him the same question, and we shared the same answer.

“This isn’t our thing,” we agreed.

We carried on talking about the superficiality of prom. Pretty, bored and suppressed teenagers released by music and lust. We left the dance with heart-shaped holes, carved out by shattered fantasies of fulfillment and euphoria. As we drove, streetlights passed by, just like the luster of the night. Our lamentations echoed during the drive. However, we did not play gods, shaking our heads at the silliness of tiny humans. Instead, we were contemplating our failure to fly off high into the sun with the wings of our tuxedos.

At midnight, we rendezvoused with our six other friends at a camper made for four. There, we spent hours basking in the wonderment of kinship and camaraderie. We traded our suits for tank tops and pajamas, exchanged the ballroom for a cramped R-Pod and replaced gloom with humor. We laughed through space and time at the ridiculousness of our existence. Silence only came when we all fell asleep under the warm and smelly blankets of brotherhood. The crickets were ticking, the teenagers awake. But the little juniors, no crying they make.

Gabe Biadora is a junior at St. Michael’s High School. Contact him at

Why I’m not going to prom

By Isaiah Delgado-Flores

Ah, prom. The most magical night in a high-schooler’s career, filled with teenage shenanigans, romance and the forming of memories that are sure to last a lifetime.

I’m not a huge fan of memories. I’ve also never really believed in magic, so why would I go to such a “magical” night? I know it’s all fake.

Seriously, can we talk about school dances for a second? I don’t get why people go to these things. I’m all for hanging out with teenage riff-raff, but why pay close to $80 to do so when I can do it for free most of the time anyway? You can’t even get your tux or dress dirty if you’re renting it, so I ask: How “on the edge” can you really get on this night?

Also, there’s the romance aspect. Your girl wants you to take her to prom to feel special or whatever, but I blissfully turn an eye. I don’t need to take my girlfriend to an over-the-top Footloose reenactment just to make her feel wanted or show her a good time. Fellas, instead, take her to a nice dinner, go mini-golfing, or just go for a ride and have a good conversation for a much lower cost. A lot of people can’t afford prom — me being one of them — and if your girlfriend truly cares about you, she’ll understand why you can’t go.

And I don’t like dancing — it’s never really been for me — so why would I pay so much to partake in something I don’t even enjoy? I’m also the kind of person who constantly wants to make my date laugh, but it’s really hard to do that when we constantly have to shout “WHAT?” to hear each other over the cacophony of loud music and chatting. I’ve asked others what is so special about prom, and most people say it’s just like any other school dance. Every time I’ve gone to a school dance, I’ve regretted it in some way.

I’ve been told it’s not about the dance, it’s about the memories. For most, this will be their last dance — their last event as a high-schooler before graduation, their last moments as an underage innocent. Who cares? Yeah, shuffling around almost being able to breathe in the hormones sounds like a real good last memory. I can understand some people wanting to go as a desperate act to preserve their last moments before they enter the real world, but that’s all it sounds like: desperation.

So I will not be going to prom because I don’t need to pay 80 bucks for a “magic” night. I can make my own magic. For free.

Isaiah Delgado-Flores is a junior at Pojoaque Valley High School. Contact him at

What a night

By Sofia Ortiz

We have seen it in every teenage romance movie. And many high-schoolers count down the years and days until they can attend: High school prom has truly come to be known as “the night of nights.”

I had seen the teenage movie High School Musical more times than I was able to count, so it should come as no surprise that I absolutely could not wait to attend my first junior prom. Every girl hopes to be the most beautiful girl at the dance, so all of my friends and I raced from websites to department stores to find the dress to make the evening complete. I emptied both my bank account and my patience going to practically every dress shop in New Mexico to find the dress, shoes and jewelry necessary to make a splash.

As the night approached, my panic grew more severe as restaurant reservations had to be made, pickup times put in place, and the nervousness of getting asked to go by my date increased. I think teens today tend to make prom preparations even more stressful than planning for a wedding.

Come the big day, each boy was learning to tie a tie, and each girl was shaving her legs (more stress). My school happened to have a track meet the same day, putting nearly every student in an anxious state as they struggled to get ready for the dance in just an hour. Most of them were late. My best friend and I got our hair done, did our makeup and pinned our dresses in a record time of three hours. The most comical part of getting ready was speeding down the freeway in our high heels at 6:25 p.m., rushing to get to our scheduled dates, which were supposed to begin at 6.

Our group met for pictures in front of the blossoms at the downtown Bataan Memorial Building and sat for an enjoyable dinner at Jinja. But it was the traditional corsage pinning and seeing my date dressed so nicely that filled me with true excitement. I was finally able to participate in that traditional night that family members told me I would “remember forever.” We hit the dance floor at 9:30 (at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center), and I watched as other couples danced the night away. From country music to slow dancing, my classmates, my date and I laughed and danced until the night was over.

Prom night for juniors and seniors is worth all the hype, I’ve decided. Stressed or not, it definitely was a night I’ll never forget. And I get to go again next year!

Sofia Ortiz is a junior at St. Michael’s High School. Contact her at