Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

The South Milwaukee Stake Wows the Region with Its Mormon Prom: "The Best Dance Ever"

Have you ever been to an LDS event that was so outstanding, so well done, so enjoyable, enlightening and uplifting that you wanted to preserve it and put it in your food storage? I mean, apart from when I’m speaking at church. (Seriously – when I’m speaking, a lot of people tell me that I should can it.) We get a lot of events of that caliber out here in Wisconsin. The latest was the “City of Lights Mormon Prom” sponsored last night by the Milwaukee South Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was simply the most amazing and enjoyable youth dance I’ve ever seen. This is becoming an annual tradition that smart LDS and non-LDS families will be sending their kids to for years to come. It’s just for kids age 16 through 18, and they must agree to follow high standards of dress and behavior. It’s a totally classy event and even includes professional-quality photography where individuals and groups can get beautiful photos taken that will be made available on Facebook.

Toward the end of the dance, I watched in amazement as nearly 100% of the young men were on the floor dancing with a partner. Only a handful of girls weren’t dancing, and I’m sure they would have been if only a few more guys had come. During the fast dances, behavior was wholesome and fun–none of the vulgarity that is often the norm at school dances. During the last slow dance, I looked at the faces of the kids and saw smiles, conversations taking place, and maybe a touch of romance in a case or two, and no inappropriate contact.

I drove a borrowed van there with six kids from the Appleton area (the Fox Valley). We’re almost 2 hours away from the South Milwaukee Stake Center (driving slower than normal), but it was completely worth the drive and I was so glad to be able to help kids, including my youngest son, get down there and experience this event. On the way back, I asked the kids about the dance. The general response agreed with my perception: probably “the best dance ever.” One of the girls said what made it different and great was that the boys were dancing. Others commented on how good the DJ was (they paid serious money for a true professional) and how fun the other kids were. They made friends, had a wonderful time, and were just delighted at what a wholesome dance can be like. Uplifting, well-organized events that bless the lives of youth and foster friendships–what’s not to love about this?

The event was not well supported in our area, for some reason. If other parents knew how important this kind of event was, more would have been there. One of my pet peeves as bishop was the lack of good LDS dances for the youth, and I even ran into trouble when my ward, with the help of my proactive future daughter-in-law in our ward, then a Laurel (who still doesn’t recognize that this was a totally arranged marriage), started organizing our own dances and inviting other wards. This is the model that the Milwaukee South Stake is following: creating a valuable service and inviting other stakes. Thank you!!

Our kids need a healthy, positive alternate to the out-of-control or outrageously uncontrolled proms offered by or through our school systems. Many kids really enjoy special dances where they can dress up, but need a more wholesome environment–an environment where girls are not expected to dress as if they were erotic objects, where young men are expected to behave as gentlemen with self-control and politeness, and where music is more than pulsation and vulgarity. It began with prayer, ended in prayer, and included some very positive and uplifting words from Brother Mortimer of the Stake Presidency at the end.

I knew that the Mormon Prom dance would be something unusual when I heard that “recommends” signed by a bishop were needed to go. Dance recommends?? My mistake—it is actually a “dance card” or rather a one-page form that states the standards of dress and behavior expected and requires the participant to commit to keeping those standards. The form needed to be signed by the participant and the bishop. No signed dance card, no admittance. I’m sure they had backup plans to handle those who lost theirs or didn’t know, but it was clear that they were serious about the standards. So serious that there was even a side room set up with a sign describing it as “The Modesty Room” where I believe several women were ready with shrugs and other means to help any young lady who did wander in with an inappropriate dress. This wasn’t about turning people away, but turning them towards higher standards and behavior, with loving help and guidance.

Kudos to South Milwaukee Stake and their terrific youth who organized the event and created the beautiful decorations. Kudos to the leaders and youth of the Stake and its wards, and to the other wards and stakes that participated, including a big group of kids from the Green Bay Stake, even further to the north of Milwaukee that we are. Kudos also to the photographer, Don Crowther–-also a popular speaker, business leader, master social networker, and marketer. I learned a lot watching him work with the young people, by the way, and got some terrific career advice while chatting with him.

This was a memorable and inspiring event in many ways. Even better than one of my sermons, I suppose. If you’re in Wisconsin, let your kids plan on it for next year.

12 comments:

palmetto_gal said...

Bravo to the organizers and youth for the Herculean effort required to put such a Prom together. I'm sure it must have been a refreshing relief to see young ladies dressed attractively and modestly. Who was it that said, "It used to be that girls went to the Prom in strapless dresses. Now they wear dressless straps." So glad that was not the case in the South Milwaukee Stake.

Kevin Barney said...

Thanks for this great report. I'm interested in the phenomenon of Mormon proms, and so was very glad to learn of this well run one to the north of me. I agree that kids very much need this sort of experience.

Scott and Jillian said...

I remember helping your dau-in-law plan those dances when we were Laurels and it was so much fun! Great memories of those times!

Ben Pratt said...

Very cool. Thanks for the report, Jeff.

Rob Erekson said...

Jeff,

I'm glad to read the event went over so well! We have one we'll be holding here in Las Vegas next Saturday (the 10th) called "The Formal" (www.theformallv.com). We have 5 stakes participating and we'll be thrilled to have the same kind of positive result you were able to see.

Rob

James Hoggatt said...

I happened to run into a group of 5 of so of attendents at Kops after the dance, and I'll have to say they were some of the nicest people I've met in a while.

They approached me because I had just had a phone conversation in russian with my friend and were preplexed by the language. We began talking and something about their demeaner and energy was attractive, they explained how they had come from an LDS dance and because I was so drawn to what seemed to be a radiating energy I gave them myfacebook information in hopes of conversing more about christianity. Coming from the soviet union, religion is looked down upon, but something about their passion in their faith has me curious.

Here's hoping they actually contact me.

James Hoggatt, 22, Milwaukee Wi

James.hoggatt@live.com

Tom said...

Sounds like great fun for all. Thanks for the report.

Michelle said...

Fabulous. Thanks for sharing about this.

Creek said...

These proms outside of schools are a great idea. I teach within a stones throw of BYU and our proms/dances are ridiculous. Kids don't dress or act appropriately, but our administrators are hesistant to do anything because so many kids are breaking the rules. We'd have to throw out half the kids!!

I hope this idea spreads and makes the current proms obsolete.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little late to the game commenting here. Our local stakes used to do dance cards, too, but it turned into a real problem. I took a group of youth to multi-stake dance--this stake required the cards, but we were not informed beforehand. Before our youth could participate, they had to have an interview with one of that stake's leaders, and they would not accept our vouching for our own youth, or even a current individual temple recommend some of our youth had. Our stake's priesthood was not required to be there because they were told there was already enough there. Our youth missed the first third of the dance waiting in line for an interview with someone who did not even have stewardship over them. Some of the less active youth vowed to NEVER go to another dance, and the active ones will not go to another dance at that stake center. I understand the reasoning--but I also think that is what leaders are for. I think dance cards can be unnecessarily exclusionary to a lot of youth.

Brian Bruner said...

I was at the dance and helped interview a few kids who had forgotten their card - it really only took a few minutes and was just to check that they agreed to the standards. The truth is, this is our second year doing this and we've not had any major problem with any of the kids - they are great!

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