How to do an "Ask" to your school Formal
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How to do an “Ask” for a School Formal

What sort of English is that I hear you shouting at me.  How to do an “ask” for a school formal? What does that even mean?

Well, if you’re the parent of a teenager living the dream in 90210 you may well know what I mean.  If you’re the parent of a teenager living in America you may also know what I mean.  If you’re a teenager who’s Googled “How to ask a girl to my Formal?” I suggest you refer your parents to this page and keep searching.

Junior Dance

Trying to live our normal LA lives has been made easier this past week by talk of the Junior Dance at the kids’ school.

There have been movies made about them, TV Shows have featured them and all in all anyone who has vaguely been exposed to “popular culture” (read: America) knows about School Dances in America.

It’s hard to believe I’ve been out of Australia for more than three years now.  This means I’m starting to get a little out of touch with how things are done in Australia—especially as my kids left at Middle School age!  (I know, I know, how does that even happen?)

Types of Dances in the year

Typically here in the US (OK, LA) there are two major dances—Homecoming and Prom.  Homecoming is the start of the season and has something to do with the football team.  Given our school doesn’t have a football team (and its associated American ra-ra) our school doesn’t have this Dance.  Personally I think they should at least do a Homecoming of sorts in honor of our other sports teams (otherwise known as athletics teams) but then again our school isn’t a huge sport school.  Sigh.

So, after Homecoming there’s usually a Winter Formal and/or this Dance, called the Junior Dance because it’s organized by the Junior Class.  Then there’s usually one more towards the end of the year—Spring Dance—and of course, Prom.  Prom is STRICTLY for the Seniors and their dates.

Most of the time the Americans are politically correct and unless you have a boyfriend or girlfriend—or I suppose someone you “like” you go solo.  Takes all the fun out of things but the pressure too no doubt.

Ask Dance

This upcoming dance is an “ask dance”.  Clearly that means you’re encouraged to ask someone to go with you.  Of course you don’t have to ask or be asked but where’s the fun in that?

You know there’s a lot of talk about this generation and how our generation have ruined them by having to win all the time and not teaching them what failure and disappointment is all about?

Well … they have taken it to a whole new level when it comes to the “Ask”.

The “Ask” has been taken to a whole new level when it’s Prom time.  Does the term “Promposal” mean anything to you? No. My marriage proposal had nothing on these Promposals.

Step 1: The Ask ritual

There is a system, a ritual if you like, about how exactly you “ask” your prospective partner.

It starts with the ‘asker’ checking with the ‘askee’s’ friends to see if (let’s say he just to simplify this) he asks said ‘askee’ whether or not (let’s say she to simplify this once again) she would say yes.  Preferably via text.  Or Snapchat.  Worse-case scenario: in person.

This is easy if the answer is yes.

If it’s yes then he goes ahead and plans to ask her—safely proceed to step two.

Of course it’s a lot more complicated when the answer is no.  Or I’m waiting for a better offer. Actually, the answer wouldn’t be no.

What would ensue next is a lot of behind-the-scenes drama that would put any caucus vote (or Attorney-General nomination vote) to shame.  No might be: “maybe but I thought prospective-asker-2 might invite her” OR getting one of his friends to let him down gently that the answer “wouldn’t be yes”.

Yes, in my day part of this were true but it was sink or swim—you didn’t know if they were going to say yes or no.  You workshopped it ad-infinitum then went for it.

There was a case this week when a boy didn’t follow the ask ritual: shock horror.  Well, the outcome might have been a bit embarrassing because even though the girl said yes (couldn’t hurt his feelings).  But, it turns out she was being asked by another boy (who had already qualified his ask via the asking ritual).  Boy number two had to tell boy number one that actually he was planning to ask her (just hadn’t got around to it yet) so sorry he couldn’t take the girl that had said yes to him hours earlier.  But, apparently, it wasn’t in a “you stole my girl I’m going to punch you” way it was just matter of fact, “sorry mate she is already going to say yes to me”.

So, you see there’s a place for this ask ritual after all.  (Although seriously? This boy waited to ask until two days before the Formal, next time maybe he won’t wait so long—what’s with that?)

Step 2: The actual Ask aka Making the ask

Once we’re clear on whether or not the ‘askee’ will say yes the ‘asker’ goes ahead with plans to “make the ask”.  So, teenager who’s still reading this is the section relevant to you: how to do an ask for a school formal.

This can be as high-key or as low-key as the asker wants.  (Translation: high key would be elaborate & low key would be a relative simple “low-key” affair).

I’m not sure if the level of ask has anything to do with how much the asker likes the askee—and not sure my kids would cough up that sort of personal information either.

In many cases it’s pretty straight forward.  But, apparently Freshman boys still have a bit of growing up to do and found it slightly beyond some of them to work out “how” to ask their pre-vetted would-be dates.  Yes, for some boys, apparently, they felt the need to workshop not just amongst themselves but with the girls they planned to ask what they thought of their ask idea.  Seriously boys, this is why we need to communicate with our mothers.  They know a bit about these things.

Thankfully they’ll soon outgrow this.  And, with one day to go before the Formal, I think all the asks are now out of the way and they can move on with the next step—planning how they’ll get there.

Ask examples

Both my kids were “sorted” early.  My Junior-year (Year 11) son made a pact with a friend of his that they would go together—so long as he “asked” her with a proper ask.

My daughter got word that one of the Freshman (Year 9) boys was going to ask her and she swiftly gave the nod that yes she’d say yes if asked.  Not missing a beat, she was asked the very next day.  It was great because it caught her by surprise and it was a good “ask” as far as asks go.

Actually both of their asks were very cute.  My son dressed up as a Shark (did you see that episode of The Bachelor where the would-be date dressed up in a Shark outfit saying she loved Dolphins?)  With his red rose, and a poster made by one of his friends saying, “Dolphinitely come to Formal with me” he was done.  He did this at lunchtime with lots of people around so it had maximum impact, maximum effect, she wasn’t expecting it so all good.  (No pic for fear of the wrath of the son).

My daughter was asked a day earlier.  In a sign of utter cuteness, he had an Australian flag where the stars were a question mark and Formal was written on it.  Clever, pander to her love of Australia and, asking at the start of the day with all their friends around, caught her completely off guard.  Big tick.

How to ask a "date" to your Formal

Ideas on your ask for formal

Perhaps one of the cutest things apart from my two (of course) was a senior boy who asked his girlfriend with the help of a few mates.  Given the rain in LA not only was it creative but it was also very musical theatre of them.  His mates, armed with black umbrellas with the letters F-O-R-M-A-L-? on them said it all.

Ask ideas for Formal

Ask ideas for your formal

Don’t you wish that was you?

Step 3: Getting ready and how are we getting there

Now we need to move on to “will we get ready together?” and “where” and “how are we getting there?”.  Most girls like to get ready together and so, it seems, do the boys.

Really, apart from the getting ready together bit this is not much different from my Formal or Ball when i was at school.

Step 4: The actual reason this all happened in the first place

The actual dance bit.  The whole reason behind the whole ask bit in the first bit.  The whole reason for being on this Saturday night.  It can get a little overshadowed by its surrounding steps but you want to hope it’s a fun time.  That is the whole reason after all.

Step 5: After party—do we go or don’t we as Freshmen?

The unwritten rule here is that Freshmen (year 9 and the first year of high school) don’t go to the after-party.  It’s just not cool.  But that’s not to say that the after-party organizers can’t profit from the Freshmen’s desire to go.  Ticket prices are done as follows:

Freshmen: $25
Sophomores: $15
Juniors: $10
Seniors: $5

But this is 90210 so money isn’t really a deterrent.  No, It’s the message that if you’re not cool enough to pick up on it your High School career isn’t off to a great start.

But really … 14 and 15 year-olds at a party with 17 7 18 year-olds—with all the “trimmings” that goes along with that really isn’t cool for parents to let them go anyway.

Apart from the post-Formal gossip that’s it.  Monday comes around—Tuesday if there’s lots of gossip—and the drudgery of school returns. Then we’ll have to wait til the next time before there’s this much chatter around the dinner table.

One final word

When I went to my school Formal, or a Dance at a boys’ school it was perhaps a more elaborate affair reserved for Year 11 & 12.  It consisted of a sit-down dinner followed by dancing.  This was enough for us to think it was the most fun ever. (OK, that and sneaking alcohol onto the Premises).  These days the kids need “something more”.  Dancing alone is not enough.  A photo booth is no longer enough.  Now they look to also be entertained.  So I’m with them, our generation has ruined this generation with all those lavish birthday parties we threw them. When dancing all night long with your mates to great music is no longer good enough what hope in hell do these kids have?

How is it where you are?  Has Asking a date to go with you to a Dance (even if it’s just as friends) gone to a new level where you are? Has Promposal fever hit other parts of the globe?

Happy nearly weekend LA—fully weekend Southern Hemisphere!

xx It Started in LA xx

PS: If you’re still struggling with American year-level terminology this might help you.

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  • Reply Kat @anaussieinsf February 14, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    Elaborate much? Wow. But so cute! I wish I had an ask story now.

    • Reply ItStartedInLA February 15, 2017 at 12:39 pm

      I know right. It’s like it’s so hard now but at the same time, I’d love a cool few ask stories of my own!

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