Traditional, school-sponsored events not your thing? Why not throw your own alternative prom event! Holding an anti-prom is a great way to have the kind of prom YOU want – one that’s open to everyone.

Sherwin Tija, (organizer of Slowdance Nights, Love Letter Open Mics, and Crowd Karaokes) presents his guide to hosting the best prom party.

  • PROM COMMITTEE: You won’t be able to do this on your own. You’re going to need a team! But people are notorious for being eager at first, and then failing to come out to future meetings. Ask people to send you a brief bio of themselves before the first meeting as a way to get to know them. If they’re unable to jump that tiny hoop, it’s unlikely they will be able to be there on time to help set up the day of the event! But having a team isn’t all managing other humans – it’s a lot of fun! Try to have meetings that are partylike. Have some snacks and sodas. Maybe watch some prom movies to get in the mood. Prom movies are great because you can look at them and make snarky comments about what you would do better. And then you can!
  • MUSIC: Live bands can be expensive, but they can bring a special energy that a DJ just doesn’t have. Try to find a student band who can  play a lot of hits. A band loves to play their own songs, but people want to dance to songs they know. Assign a DJ to plan the playlist for the evening. If one person doesn’t want the job, then you can have a prom where everyone creates the playlist by emailing in advance one or two mp3’s each. That way the attendees feel that they are collectively working together to pick the songs for the evening. You will of course, have to go through them, to edit out the songs that are too obscure. Possibly you can do this during a Prom Committee meeting! Let it serve as the soundtrack for the night, and any time a song comes up that no one likes, you can strike it there and then.
  • DECOR: How elaborate you want to get is up to you, but streamers and balloons are cheap and easy to put up. I would suggest you go wild with it. Cardboard stars are another consideration, as well as any kind of specialized paper-mache constructions you want to create that would align itself with whatever theme you have decided on for the night. The more you can transform the venue into something that looks nothing like what it looks like, the better. This will likely take at least a couple hours the day of, so make sure you can get into the venue early enough to decorate as much as you want, leaving you plenty of time to get home, have something to eat, and get dressed yourself.
  • THEME: Coming up with a workable theme is a lot of fun and you can probably leave this up to your committee. Try to find something that is open enough that a lot of people can feel like they can do something to work it into their outfit, but directed enough that people don’t feel at a loss. A science fiction theme is good. Or a Prom Noir. Basically look at film genres, or periods in time. Try to brianstorm as many as you can, then let your committee vote on their favourites.
  • LIGHTING: The mood of the night is very important, and lighting has a lot to do with it. The mirrorball is key – and you can find them for cheap at Target or other discount stores. It gives the room movement when things are dead, and the constant flashing light gives everything a mesmerizing feel, and a sense of excitement. Try to have lights that match the theme of the evening, and the decor, that are dim enough people feel safe enough to dance like fools, and bright enough that they can see each other.
  • PHOTOBOOTH: Assign a photographer with their digital camera . Cordon off a corner of the room with a cloth and a cheesy backdrop. Have fake flowers and tiara handy. This is a great way for people to remember who was at the Prom, and to commemorate the night for themselves. If you can do it, a real-time upload of the pictures to a Facebook gallery is a lot of fun. Try to have the photobooth open for a limited time during the evening. This way the photographer will have a chance to enjoy the night as well, and it will instill some urgency in people to get them to the photobooth. If you have a DJ or Emcee, have them regularly announce the hours of the Photobooth.
  • SAFETY SIGNS: If your prom is an inclusive LGBT event, put up signs in the bathrooms and at the entrance designating the venue as safe for Queers, Trans and Bi-folk, and that whoever doesn’t respect that policy will be escorted out. People enjoy rules, and it’s important that the event set guidelines on how people are to comport themselves. Definitely have a few people at the event who are your Security Squad or Safety Team. Designate them with a certain coloured shirt or colourful sash. It’s important that they are visible, so should a problem arise, people know to go to them.
  • UPPING THE ANTI: In many ways, an anti-prom is very much like a regular one, only hopefully without the petty douchebaggery that comes with a regular one. So much of the night will be about the execution, the tenor set down by your organizing team. It’ll exist in something as small as how you word your Facebook event page. Make clear from the start that this event is about fun for everyone.