Well, I survived the 8th-grade prom yesterday, and I didn't have to break up any fights between my buddy and her nemesis. I just took lots of pictures and danced about as well as the middle-aged Mexican ladies. Senora School Lady invited me to join the circle on the floor--she even spoke in English to invite me. I was very honored and appreciated it a lot. We had a little circle going where the ladies would take turns going out in the middle of the circle and do something cute in the center and dance back, stepping and shaking hips. When it was my turn I did the little 60s underwater snorkel thing and they all laughed appreciatively. Mexicans are much less intimidating dancers than Puerto Ricans, though the ladies did not bother having me come out when we did the circle with partners. (Thanks to an old boyfriend who taught me to swing dance a little, and thanks to my Puerto Rican students who taught me un pocito de la salsa, I actually could have managed it w/o disgracing myself, but they didn't know that.)
The fashion was quite a sight--everything from classic gowns and wraps to an oversize button-down shirt dress. Three girls wore pants or pantsuits, including my buddy, who had a black jumpsuit with a little flounce over the bell-bottom pant legs that kind of faked a dress. I thought she looked great. Her highlights came out just like she wanted them to--very subtle. She did a criss-cross part that looked fantastic. School Lady's daughter came in pants and a shirt but she looked great in it, even if it was a little less formal than a formal. (I think they just really don't have money to spare for this stuff, or maybe they have more sense than all the poor people I've ever known who blew money on fancy clothes, haircuts, cars, spiffy electronics, etc.)
The guys mostly wore dress shirts and dress pants. No tuxes, to the relief of all my interested coworkers. Some guys came in very casual clothes--I'm not sure if they got to jeans, but definitely to chinos. One guy was in Western formal wear, including a cowboy hat. He got voted prom king. The prom queen was as big as a house and in a dress that was way too tight and skimpy--I wouldn't have let my daughter out of the house in it. Being a mean white girl, I thought it was a joke at first, but clearly she is a nice person and people like her, so I was quickly persuaded it was a sincere recognition of her popularity and not cruel.
Actually, despite the animosity between my bud and her nemesis, I don't find the same kind of cruelty present among these kids as I've seen on the playground jungles of middle-class suburbia. The sneaky shit isn't for them. They'll slice each other up, and there's plenty of gossip, but that mean, sarcastic irony shit isn't really their bag. And the kids are nicer to grownups, I think. They really were friendly to me--some girls I'd never met before went out of their way to make conversation.
The music had a lot of variety: R&B (which provoked that nasty grinding, but the moms didn't mind, so I'm getting over myself about it), Tex-Mex country line dancing, that hot Latin pop/dance club stuff (I forget what it's called, but stuff like the ubiquitous "Gasolina"), Mexican polka-esque, really hyper with the accordion, so really quite a mix. And the kids really seemed to have fun--lots of pictures, lots of dancing, not too much boy/girl stuff but some, some friendly some more than friendly, lots of girls dancing with other girls, lots of boys hanging to the side but better able to hold their own when forced than your average 8th-grade white boy, that's for sure.
I even managed to snag a couple shots of my buddy's brother, who hates getting his picture taken. Hope they come out.