The one thing we thought would never go away, would never change, was the school dance. Prom, in particular, is one of the most significant events of a high school student’s career, a rite of passage that culminates their four years of hard work.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 created a problem we never imagined; students could no longer be together in the same place with their peers. COVID-19 set off a ripple in schools that affected not only academic learning but social and emotional development (SEL) as well. Developing relationships during adolescent years lays the foundation for future relationship success as students move to college and/or career.
If you follow school dances at all, which I assume you do being that you are reading this article, you might know that when it was clear that in-person school events would not be happening at the end of 2020, many organizations and groups began organizing virtual proms. Teen Vogue, MTV, various radio stations, social media platforms, schools, and even individual students worked to create meaningful experiences that connected friends from a distance and celebrated the accomplishments of the year. As the leader in online school-dance management platforms, My School Dance also sought to determine how to provide a prom experience to our schools and students. We decided to provide a unique virtual prom experience, which we called Virtual Prom Live, where we were able to simulate the best experience possible for students whose proms were canceled.
I wanted to share our experience in a 2-part blog series called Planning Your Virtual Dances. In this post, I will highlight what a virtual dance or virtual prom is, and what the benefits of having a virtual school event of any kind are. In the next post, I will share how to plan a virtual dance or event for your students.
What is a Virtual Dance or Virtual Prom?
In this post, I am going to refer mostly to our specific initiative, Virtual Prom Live, but this can be applied to most virtual dances and some virtual school events.
The main features of a virtual school dance are fairly consistent across the board:
Optional add-ins for engagement and positivity include:
Virtual Prom Live hosted four different proms, each focused on a specific U.S. time zone. We gathered students from schools around the country into one place where we streamed live DJ talent, featured over 25 influencers, and provided giveaways from companies such as Enso Rings, Crocs, Charlotte’s Closet, and Door Dash. Students had the ability to chat in a moderated section with kids from around the U.S. and Canada and were encouraged to form group video chats either with friends, schools, or others in the event. We had specific vendors who provided discounts on tuxes (Friar Tux, The Black Tux) and dresses (Charlotte’s Closet), which many students wore, took traditional prom photos, and had dinners put together by family.
Benefits of a Virtual School Dance
The most important thing for Virtual Prom Live was that we simulated as much as possible a true prom experience. We know that a virtual school dance will never replace in-person interactions, but our hope is that we were able to provide some semblance of excitement for students who were stuck inside for weeks.
Some of the benefits of virtual dances are:
Again, I would never say that a virtual school dance could replace an in-person one, they are just not the same. However, I do think there are benefits to having a virtual option over no option, and I also believe there might be a need in the future for hybrid school dances both online and offline. In the next blog post, I will give you some guidance on how exactly you can begin to plan a virtual dance for your school or organization. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.