MLC Observation – Proms Then and Proms Now

It’s prom season.  You know how I can tell?  As I walk through Ala Moana Macy’s, I see the girls getting their make-up done at the make-up counter.  Their hair already put up and curled.  Their nails all done.  I was wondering – do these girls pay the make-up counter folks to do their make-up?


I was talking to a co-worker who has a son in high school and she was telling me that proms nowadays aren’t quite like how we remembered it.


For example:


The Threads ~
Our Days:
Remember how us guys used to wear pastel colored tuxedos that would match with our date’s dress color?  And our Celebrity Tuxedo rental was the kine with the satin trimmed jackets and the satin strip down the side of the pants.  And the iconic ruffled shirt.  And bow-tie, of course.  And cummerbund.  Honestly, guys never knew what a cummerbund was – until they went to a prom.


The guys wear tuxedos that look more like suits – with a regular tie or a maybe a bow tie, and perhaps a vest.  And matching cuff-links/buttons/tie-clip.  No ruffly shirt and over-sized jackets like in our day.  In fact, the “tuxs” are available in Slim size now!  Try ask today’s guys if they know what a cummerbund is.


* I don’t know too much about gowns so the girls can chime in here.


The Floral ~
Our Days:
Remember how we used to buy pikake lei for the girls.  *You could always tell how much a guy liked a girl by the number of strands of pikake.  3-strands was just friends.  5-strands meant that he likes her.  7-strands means they going steady.  And a girl wearing a “rope pikake” lei might as well be wearing a wedding ring.


They guys give the girls a French bouquet or wrist corsage.  How are you supposed to tell how serious the relationship is without being able to count strands!?!  But I understand that the guys still get a maile lei.  Maile lei by itself – friends.  Maile lei with Tuberose – they “trippin”.  Maile lei with Pikake or miniature roses –  they going steady.


The Event ~
Our Day:
Most of our proms didn’t include dinner.  We would have a nice formal dinner at a fancy restaurant in Waikiki such as the Black Angus, Ship’s Tavern, or The Third Floor.  And after dinner, the couples would arrive at the prom – fashionably late.  But folks would be arriving throughout the night, depending on when their dinner was pau.


The prom includes dinner and the doors lock after the given start time.  If you’re not there when the doors are locked – too bad.  And if you or your date doesn’t follow the dress code, you won’t be allowed in.  You can try changing to meet the dress code – but you have to be back before the doors lock.  And there is a “contract” that must be signed ahead of time – by the student and the parent(s).  And the date too – even if from a different school.


The Prom Court ~
Our Days:
Remember how it was a big, no – HUGE thing to be on the prom court?  Usually it was the most popular and best looking in the class.  Maybe a star athlete and the prettiest cheerleader?  In fact, IIRC – the class used to vote for the prom king and queen and the runner-ups would be the Court.


It’s not a big deal to be selected as the prom king and queen.  In fact, my friend told me that at her son’s prom, after choosing a King and Queen – they had to ask couples if they’d be willing to be on the prom court.


The Prom Pictures ~
Our Days:
You and your date would take a break, step outside and take your prom picture.  The pose was the typical prom pose where the girl and the guy stand next to each other, then the photographer has them both turn 45-degrees to the left.  The guy wraps one arm around her and places his other hand on her arm as they both turn their heads to face the camera.  Two shots in case someone’s eyes were closed.  They you get the pictures later that week in school.


Prom Pose Our Days


The pose can be anything from the guy lying down on his side and his date sitting on his hip to the couple using props that they brought along.  And then there’s the group pictures.  Different pictures with a group of couples, a group of just the guys, a group of just the girls, group pictures with props.  Any kine.  And the photographer’s not complaining.  The more the merrier – money wise.


Prom Pose Nowadays


After Prom ~
Our Day:
After the prom, it meant that we got to do the adult thing and catch a late night show – drinking non-alcoholic beverages, of course.  The show to see was the Society Of Seven show at the Outrigger Main Showroom.  And when SOS was out-of-town, that meant that we caught The Alii’s show.  And for the brave ones, they went to the Noodle Shop to catch the Frank DeLima show.  I say the brave ones because garans-ballbarens – Frank going pick on the prommies.


The guys take their date home.  Then go to their friend’s house or a hotel room for a sleep-over.  What!?!  No romancing?  Whatever happened to “A Night to Remember”?


Boy how times have changed.



45 Responses to “MLC Observation – Proms Then and Proms Now”

  1. Seawalker says:

    What pumped me up back then was when the commercial for the modeling agency, Models of the Century came on. I can still hear that jingle in my head. And the guys all decked out in tuxes, while the dolls were all in their evening gowns. There’s a basketball player shooting the ball and a cheerleader cheering the team on in the commercial. Then Monday at school… “okay man, I going ask her this week”. Monday passes, Tuesday passes, and Wednesday passes. Still no asking. “You better ask soon, Seawalker, cause if you don’t somebody else will.” Thursday go by. Then, on Friday afternoon, you find out she is going to the Prom with someone else. “WTH?, you tell yourself”. But it is not the same. When your heart tells you she is your first choice, DO NOT WAIT. Lesson learned. Those were the days, those were the good ol’ days of high school. You can’t rewind the clock.

  2. Seawalker says:

    Mother’s Day is May 11. Here’s a nice poem that I found to get things going.

    Heart of a Mother

    A Mother is born that very moment
    a child becomes her own.

    And her heart begins to overflow
    With a love she has never known.

    Her focus changes instantly
    as her heart beats for another.

    It will never be the same again.

    It’s the powerful heart of a mother!

    It’s a heart of incredible courage
    with strength and endurance too.

    She fiercely protects and defends her young
    in ways only love can do.

    She sacrifices “self” to give
    her children what they need,
    developing their character
    to make sure that they succeed.

    Just like a lovely gardener
    she plants her seeds of love.

    Her heart gives lots of sunshine
    like blessings from above.

    She provides a firm foundation…
    a peaceful, loving home

    So her children’s roots run deep and strong
    no matter where they roam.

    With a heart that nurtures them along
    to grow in the right direction

    She allows them freedom to blossom and
    thrive under her wise protection.

    They’re prepared to face the storms of life,
    as they learn to stand alone.

    She gives them a sense of value and strength
    with a confidence of their own.

    There’s a special beauty in a Mother’s love
    She’s a picture of wisdom and grace

    We honor her with gratitude…
    No one can take her place!

  3. Seawalker says:

    @1oldfut – Dang, I know exactly what kind OP pants you talking about. Had one myself. Paper thin, no? Next time, wear 2 BBDs for extra precaution. 😆 Cotton in texture. Brah, had those jackets with the floral reversible print and a white breaker on the outside layer from Gems. Could be around the OP time too. LOL

  4. 1oldfut says:

    You got it bruddah! But I think the sausage wouldn’t pass inspection cuz would look like one snake swallowed one egg if youknowhuddimean…Ugh, getting bad flashbacks of those gauze-like drawstring OP pants, except I couldn’t get the real deal. I had the fake ones that were white/tan that could see my bibadees through. Bad, bad, memories.
    Sorry folks, I digress big-time.

  5. Seawalker says:

    @1oldfut – LOL, bust out the long-sleeve silky shirt with the pants and shoes, then you really going be a well-dressed pordagee sausage.

  6. M says:

    Speaking of class reunion, I’m a ’71 grad and never been to one.

  7. khs68 says:

    “2nd Chance Prom” would be a good theme for a class reunion.

  8. 1oldfut says:

    ‘bus out the angel flights and famolares den-nah nah nah. Going look like one over-stuffed sausage!

  9. Rodney says:

    Some time ago, I remember a radio station holding a “2nd Chance Prom” event. I wonder how that would play out today. I can name a lot of bands to play. But I’m not sure that we’d want to get all dressed up and stuff. LOL

  10. 1oldfut says:

    Like a few of you, I never went to a prom either. Too shy, then too punk/rebellious, then stuck on the outside looking in. Kinda wish I went to one, looking back now, just to see. No worries now though, as I have some “closure” due to my son attending his first.

  11. M says:

    Guud morning MLCers!

  12. Seawalker says:

    Ahh… and finally, the big event, Senior Prom. Way back then, it seemed like you start the wheels in motion when you paid for your registration at the beginning of the year. It is like the grand finale–Super Bowl. It is a time when you were young and naive, a time when you still fantasize about puppy love, and a chance and opportunity to finally ask that ‘hot’ guy out or to see if she would say ‘yes’ to your overtures. You were so insecure back then. You knew she would tell all her friends about you. What would she say? I wonder if her friends would like me too? Some of us were geeks and dorks even back in high school. But the term ‘nerd’ is what we used to label classmates, never us. Back then, the Prom was the highlight of the school year. It is a rite of passage. Some of us worked all school year to save our monies for that wonderful prom dress we dreamed up. It is a time when a guy practices his social skills like planning the event, to opening car doors, and to realizing that unlike us, girls do like flowers. Me? I still have an opportunity to watch my kids go to the prom. Yes, I’ll be the one with the shotgun when he comes over to finally meet us. Yes, the wife will be right there to take pictures of the whole event before they leave the house. Prom season, can you just smell the excitement in the air?

  13. Mark Ellis says:

    My band got to be the warm-up act for a headliner lost to memory–The Vagrants?– at Maryknoll High School in 1966. We played “Good Lovin” by the Rascals, “Gloria” by Them, and “We Gotta Get Outta This Place” by the Animals. Even then I was already gravitating towards the tough-girl groupie types who hung around musicians, and not the pastel-wearing golden girls who all the most popular guys vied for.

    But I did get to go, even though I was only a lowly sophomore.

  14. khs68 says:

    Best after prom dinner I remember was at Michel’s. High maka maka for sure. I guess he was trying to impress. 😆

    BTW: The pidgin version of hakuna matata is Hakuna Nomatta.

  15. hawai'ian by heart says:

    See you all on da flipside. Gotta feed da time clock. Mahalo and have a great day full of da aloha spirit.

  16. hawai'ian by heart says:


    Itz all good, just had a bad night. Yeah i can see a lighter dress for dancing would be needed. I also thought if its 80 with humidity which our home has sometimes, you would want a lighter material dress so you no melt?

  17. Masako says:

    @HBH – Sorry I didn’t respond right away. Lots of times I post in the morning and don’ get back on until the following day or so.
    I recall my dresses were all on the light side, hard to dance in a heavy dress.
    Like Sally said, no worry.

  18. hawai'ian by heart says:

    Meant you got keiki?

  19. hawai'ian by heart says:


    Hakuna Matata! Lion King bruddah? Keiki? ;-).

  20. M says:

    Guud morning MLCers!
    I don’t really remember much about the prom. I know I went to see S.O.S. after and had dinner at Byron’s at Ala Moana.

  21. 4G says:

    @hbh – Hakuna Matata! LOL! 😉

  22. hawai'ian by heart says:


    Mahalo, itz ok, we can be happy kden? 🙂

  23. Mark Shelby says:

    I never got to go to a prom. Or a dance of any kind. My parents were way too strict in the good old days. : (

  24. 4G says:

    @hbh – Oy; sorry if I am one of the people you are referring to. Wasn’t on purpose . . . .


  25. sally says:

    @ hawaiian by heart… no worry, be happy. Besides, this is a blog… not a chat room. You’re cool. There’s worse.

  26. hawai'ian by heart says:

    Eh, did i fut? do i have bad breath or etc? I said howzit to a few of you the last few topics and responded to your posts, no response or aloha back?

    I rememba humbly asking you guys to be part of your ohana and community when i started posting, and got no negative response so i thought it was ok? Itz no biggie, no one is required to talkstory wit me. Itz just i want to know if im still welcome, if not i don’t want to step on anybody toes or be any trouble. Aloha. 🙂

  27. 4G says:

    LOL – I sort of remember doing a bit of research on this topic before. From May 6, 2013 (Topic was, “Do You Remember . . . Prom Bids):

    From what I can tell, it still looks like they have prom bids. I never knew that “prom” was short for “promenade” (duh – makes sense, no?) and “bids” came from the fact you used to actually have to bid for the tickets to the prom. Hmm – I don’t recall them being in danger of selling out . . . . LOL.

    Backstory on local proms:

    Wow – I never realized they were sooo involved:


  28. 4G says:

    I was trying to remember – did we rent shoes to go along with the tux? I kinda think so, but can’t really remember.

    And the bow-tie – must have been the “cheating” clip-on kind right? Gotta be, cause to this day, I wouldn’t know how to tie one of those things . . . . LOL.

  29. BlueJade says:

    My then b/f was 26 and a grad of my high school so he was too shame to show up with a 17 yo girl at his alma mater. I had bought the bids too. My best friend b/f was also his best friend and he went with her. We met up at Ala Moana park laterz and she was like it was soooo boring and nothing special. I am SOOO glad I didn’t go, I didn’t feel like I missed anything and I don’t know where I’d have gotten the money to go. I guess hit up my parents??

    I use to work at a flower shop so prom season was one of the busy seasons, i.e. we jacked up the prices about 30-50%! Pikake was $2 per strand, it’d go up to $5. In the 70s it was mostly leis with a rare corsage or french bouquet. I thought the bouquet and wrist corsages were pretty stupid looking. Pikake mostly 3-strand and of course maile, those days maile was all sourced local. Also double carnation leis were popular sprayed in colors to match the gowns (??) with ribbon streamers. I ‘member blue as being a popular color option for ’em.

  30. Seawalker says:

    @4G – Was thinking the same thing when I read it this morning. The price is right for sure. On occasion, the thigh pieces are way gigantic. Who’s complaining, right? More to eat. The other day, the piece of chicken at St. Louis Okazuya was ginormous. Da wife made oven chicken made a batch at home last week. Tell ya, the meat on the chicken was not manini-sized at all. Sometimes when I go to Gulick, the pieces are so tiny. Must be the fenced-in chicken (they develop skimpier) vs. chickens on steroids factor. LOL – no can win (again).

  31. 4G says:

    Late again . . . .

    Chicken Joints – I never heard of Maui Mike’s Chicken. From “5 Things We Love”, Star Advertiser:

    Maui Mike sure knows his chicken

    A trip to Wahiawa for me means a visit to Maui Mike’s Fire-Roasted Chicken. I usually order the No. 1 ($5.69, or $6.59 with a medium drink), which includes a tasty and moist quarter-chicken (steroid- and hormone-free), with rice or fries and choice of one dipping sauce. I usually buy additional dipping sauces for 25 cents each because I can never decide on just one of the seven sauces: BBQ Smokey, BBQ Sweet, honey mustard, Lava Hot, Blazin’ Chili, teriyaki and ranch. Plus, I like to experiment and mix the sauces together. The restaurant, located across Olive Street from McDonald’s at the corner of Olive and Kamehameha Highway, also offers wings, sandwiches and sides of baked beans, corn and potato salad. Catch them online at Call in phone orders to 622-5900. — Michelle Ramos

  32. hawai'ian by heart says:


    You brought up a goodpoint. To be honest i doubt this generation (including adults) could live in our time. Not enough rules, laws etc. Just look at whats Happened to our MLC hawaii home, this should say we are correct.

  33. 4G says:

    Prom, eh? Hmmm . . . .

    I guess I was the “anti“ type of person back in those days. Wait a minute, I still am that way! LOL – I guess some things never change . . . . 😉

    I never went to any of my school’s proms (most functions, actually). I went to one prom when I was a senior – it was to Pearl City’s prom. I really don’t remember too much about the prom. I can’t even remember where it was! I don’t remember what we did for dinner that night. I do remember renting a baby blue tux for the occasion. LOL – I can’t believe I actually wore that thing! I remember getting a maile lei. I think I got her a wrist corsage (but, I really don’t remember). To this day, I find the smell of maile attractive and it always seems to remind of me events like proms and banquets. Its smell always brings back fond memories and thoughts of a simpler time.

    I remember that the “go-to” after prom activity was SOS. For us, though, by that time, we had been spending most weekend nights at nightclubs/discos. I know we went clubbing after the prom. For some reason, I can’t remember exactly where we went, but I’m sure that one of the stops had to be Duke’s. My date’s older sister was renting a house somewhere on Piikoi Street, above Kapiolani and I know we changed out of our prom attire and into club attire after the prom. We must have had about three couples that hung out at the prom and afterward. I don’t think I ever saw the prom picture . . . .

    I’m glad I don’t have to “grow up” these days. I think I would go nuts. Too much “oversight” and parental involvement. LOL . . . . Of course, we’re probably lucky to be alive what with all the shenanigans we got into . . . .

    How times change. At that age, back in the day, I would not want to be seen anywhere with my parents!

  34. hawai'ian by heart says:


    Auntie no knew u from Waipahu? Waipahu like 2nd home fo me and ohana.

  35. hawai'ian by heart says:



  36. hawai'ian by heart says:

    @Masako, KAN and other local ladies.

    Wouldnt your formal gowns have to be made with lighter fabric, then say Mainland? Alot more warmer and humid right? Just curious.

  37. Mark'75 says:

    Party pooper, I know, but proms weren’t important to me. Senior prom day, went to track practice instead, preparing for states.

    It was a HUGE thing for my kids, tho, and their proms were expensive!!!!!

  38. hawai'ian by heart says:

    My biggest obstacle would be finding a mainland wahine who can put up wit me fo a night(priceless) lol :-). Im a pono guy, its just my experience is im often to layed back or mellow fo mainland wahine :-). Maybe a product of being MLC HAWAI’I what you think eh? Anyone else have same problem?

  39. hawai'ian by heart says:

    Yeah unfortunately i moved from Oahu before experiencing Prom. And on the mainland i missed prom. So no experience. Eh what can i say i was an abused child lol :-). What is kinda cool here in Portland is each year they have a “Did you miss your prom 2nd chance thingy” Which kinda sounds interesting.

  40. M says:

    It cost a whole lot of money to go to the prom today.

  41. Masako says:

    My daughter went to her senior prom 9 years ago. Her date was just a friend. Gowns were much more expensive and fancy than the ones that I had. Her dress was as much as I paid for my wedding gown. Luckily, grandma paid for it. My sister in law did her hair and makeup. I think we bought her date a maile lei and he got her a wristlet. A bunch of them rented a limo and I think they just went cruising around afterward. She said it was no big deal but she’s glad she went.
    On the other hand, my son was asked by several girls and he turned them down. He said he just wasn’t interested in going to the prom. I wished he had gone just for the experience. Plus I wanted to see him dressed up in a Tux.

  42. Masako says:

    Good morning! Great topic! Just yesterday at Church, one of the junior leaders was sharing with me about her senior prom and I shared my experience with her. Here are the differences I noticed.
    1. She went stag with her friends. In our day no one did that, you had to have a date, and there were no same sex couples either. She told me that the bids are sold in singles now.
    2. Hair and makeup are done at a salon. Back in my day we had to do our own or if you were lucky you had a big sister or auntie to help you. She and her friends made a spa day out of it.
    3. Transportation, she mentioned that most people use limo’s. In our day our date would drive, or the parents would drive you.
    4. Pictures, not only are the poses different, they get their pictures right away on their phones. And I guess they all send them to each other because she had a whole album.
    5. The dresses, back in our day we always wore long formal gowns. The dresses are shorter now. I think our dresses are more classy.
    6. Flowers, I noticed more wrislets and boutineers for the guys, not too much leis.
    When I told her that back in my day it was all couples she said she’s glad its not like that now. I agree with her, I think I would have enjoyed it more if I could have just gone with my girlfriends.

  43. M says:

    Guud morning MCLers!

  44. KAN says:

    For senior prom, I made my own gown. I realized *after* taking photos that white was not my best color. It was simple satin sheath with a chiffon overlay. My date and I split the cost of prom – we were just friends and double dated with another set of friends. I don’t think we did dinner together beforehand, and we went back to my house afterward to eat snacks and watch “Excalibur” on t.v. Yes, I was a geek even back then.

  45. KAN says:


    My friends and I tried to do prom as inexpensively as possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *