Prom, Wind and Other Vegas Spring Pleasures

The Valley Girl Prom it was not.

The Valley Girl Prom it was not.

What was it like going to prom in Las Vegas back in the day?

Much is made about how fancified the ritual of school dances has become, but Vegas prom in the 1980s wasn’t much different than it is now, except that today’s attendees seem to spring for limos more often than we did. That’s likely a byproduct of fewer teenagers with drivers licenses—a good thing considering the shenanigans that often take place on prom night.

I rented tuxes at Tuxedo Junction (still in the same spot on West Sahara), ordered corsages from Rancho Circle Florist and made shaky-voiced dinner reservations (over the telephone!) at Phillips Supper House or the Top of the Mint (trading limos for lobster—a fancier dinner than many experience now). Like today, we often scored show reservations at a Strip showroom, but we had to tip the doorman to get a decent seat. Another significant cultural shift is that we were often “treated as adults” when it came to cocktails, not terribly shocking given that, at the time, some states allowed drinking at 18 or 19.

The dance I recall most vividly was at the Sahara Country Club (now Las Vegas National) in Paradise Palms. How can I forget walking hand-in-hand with my date along the fairway, having a total eclipse of the heart? That’s not so different from the students I recently saw leaving prom at The Smith Center.

There were a few times I quietly wished for a “Valley Girl”-style food-fight-and-fisticuffs to break out, but Vegas prom wasn’t like the movies. Clark High School never held prom in the gym, for example, so while I wondered what a “normal” prom would be like, I considered our unique venues to be part of the perks of growing up here, another bragging point for a Vegas Kid too often put on the defensive.

What’s with all this freaking wind?

Some say we have two seasons (Hot and Warm), but I say we have three: Hot, Windy, and Awesome. You can blame the season called Windy on the collision of our generally pleasant spring weather being broadsided by winter storms (the same ones that feed our water supply) arriving from the much colder regions to the northeast. This results in dusty days that really blow, and schizophrenic weather that moves us from near-record-high highs to near-record-low highs within a week. We’re naked in the pool one day, bundled in a jacket the next.

Thankfully, most visitors come during Hot and/or Windy, which is great because if they came during Awesome, they’d want to move here. And then we’d really have water problems.


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At a time when—politically, economically, culturally—so much seems so wrong to so many of us, it’s easy to forget about the environment. It’s the ultimate peace-and-prosperity issue, the thing we think about when everything else isn’t on our mind. But as global weather patterns grow curiouser and curiouser (to paraphrase Alice, who visited a place even weirder than 21st-century Vegas), we no longer have the luxury of waiting for a calm moment.