Monday, June 25, 2012

Throw Down: 90's Prom

TheBashionista on prom night, 1994.

Let's take a trip back to a time when Seattle was grunging up the airwaves, you were lucky to have a dial-up internet connection, and rocking baby doll dresses or Converse All-Stars at the local coffee shop was your new favorite hobby.  Whether you're nostalgic for the '90s or you never outgrew your teenage angst, this party is for you. Have friends who stress out about coming up with clever costume ideas - or friends who could barely tie their shoes in the '90s? This party is also for them - they can throw on their fanciest outfits and they'll be all set for prom. Done and done!
From tricking out your party space, to feeding your guests, to inspiring them to bust a move, we have got you covered. Click here for a '90s dance party playlist, and click here for a photo gallery of costume ideas.
Now, there's nothing wrong with throwing a 90's party in the comfort of your own home. But to make it feel like a prom, you're probably going to need a bigger space. I threw this party for my 30th birthday, and I knew I'd be drawing a crowd. So I rented a venue -  as I did for my Summer of Sam and my Flashdance Electric Boogaloo parties. It's not as crazy as it seems! I asked for a $5 donation at the door, which covered the cost of the hall, and then I provided all the food and drink. If this still sounds way too spendy, consider having a combined birthday party with a few friends where you split the cost of food and drink. It'll be a party for the books.

Working the Door

Guests mingle in the entrance hall.

In my article here I talk about how to give your guests a stellar first impression and make them feel instantly welcome - including the instant camera I recommend you use. For this party, I asked friends in groups of three to work the door for me for one half hour spell during the night. One person greeted and hung coats, one person collected the cash, and one person snapped polaroid pictures. The polaroids went into the Guestbook ("Prom Yearbook") - and each guest was asked to write where they were on Prom Night, 1994 - since the answers ranged from getting home from preschool to hanging out in their actual grown-up apartment, it made for a great conversation piece.

The Party Room
The party took place in a big square room. The dance floor was in the center, loosely marked off by the four main support columns in the building, which were strung up with colored fairy lights. Guests entered the hall from the bottom center of the square.

To the right of the entrance, we set up two long tables and chairs with white fairy lights above for better illumination.

To the left of the entrance, we built a movie pod. Luckily, I know someone who let me borrow his projector - those things are crazy expensive! We projected movies silently onto a white sheet, which was strung up about four feet from the back wall. The cool thing about the projection is that you can see it on either side of the sheet - you can dance along with the prom kids in She's All That, or you can sit behind the screen on one of the couches and make up your own dialogue.
Inside the pod, we set up living room furniture, favorite 90's games like Jenga, Girl Talk, and '90s Trivial Pursuit, and I borrowed a tv for screening episodes of My So-Called Life, The Simpsons, and Seinfeld.
Throughout the night we screened movies like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Clueless, Empire Records and Reality Bites. And my amazing friend Rachel Moliere edited together a montage of scenes from '90s dance movies. We placed the projector on a pedestal and surrounded it with the food tables, so there'd be no risk of anyone knocking it over.
In the back left corner of the room, we set up the bar, and a table with wine and premade cocktails was on the wall opposite the entrance - just to keep traffic jams at the bar to a minimum.

Sample Menu
My cousin Lauren and sister Susan helped me cater this party, and we served up a menu inspired by prom fare, but a little more manageable. We made several trays of lasagna, a big vat of garlicky green beans, and salad, and then we served favorite snack foods of the '90s - Doritos and Sun Chips, for example. We also made garlic-lover's hummus, and Susan's famous Peanut Butter Popcorn. And then my sweet cousin baked me a fancy cake.

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