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In America, Prom at the end of high school is, for a great majority of people, a highpoint in their young lives and the pinnacle social event.  For me it meant about jack squat and I couldn’t have cared less about it if I tried, so it was to my high surprise that I found myself not only interested in, but excited for a dance here in Ireland.  Two to be more precise.  It took some mental readjusting to convince myself I wasn’t being hypocritical, justifying it with the shallow argument that these were not just simple “dances” but they were, in plain fact, Balls.  Fancy schmancy, elegant Balls, held in prestigious hotels or, in my favourite case, a flipping castle.  I’ll admit to being shallow enough that the prospect of going to a Ball in a castle is enough to win me over.  It was enough to win one of my best friends who is studying in Paris for the semester to fly over as well for the occasion.

Two Balls, one on either side of Reading Week and a week plus’ worth of travelling throughout England and Scotland where my only guarantee was going to be little sleep; I was excited.  The first up was the Music Societies Ball, which I would attend with a good friend from back home who was visiting me and Ireland for the week.  All I had to mention to him was that we could go to a Ball, in a castle, and he was sold, the three-course meal and various musical groups playing for our entertainment were simply icing on the proverbial cake.  Suited up in fine attire, or as fine as my friend could find; he mistakenly assumed he wouldn’t have any need for anything dressy while abroad so he was rather lacking, but we made due and excused it because we were Americans and who really cared.


The Music Ball was held in Clontarf Castle, to which we were taken to by a not-so-fancy-pancy bus.  Nor were we immediately greeted upon entrance by a string quartet like we were promised.  I, for one, was quite peeved.  But this was made up for by the fact, which concluded to be the general sentiment of the entire group that evening, that we were in a castle, having a Ball, and regardless of anything else that was more than enough to satisfy.  The string quartet eventually did play, followed by numerous a cappella groups, a jazz group with a most magnificent singer whose voice they ran through a speaker to give it that old 1930s or ‘40s radio-feel to it, and finally an eclectic group of student DJs.  The DJs, I must add must have had some vendetta against music past the ‘80s, because apart from two Daft Punk songs, nothing made it past that decade, a fact I was not displeased about in any form.

The second Ball, mere hours after my flight touched back down in Dublin, was held in the illustrious Burlington Hotel by the Psychology Society, of which I was not a part of but I scored a date to it and I desperately needed an excuse to wear my tuxedo that I had shipped over from America in anticipation of a previous Ball that had gotten cancelled, much to my rage and fury.  With friendly date in-arm, we entered the second Ball which, while not held in a castle unfortunately, was still pretty nifty.

This was more of the same, minus the live music, but instead replaced by a professional photographer.  I’m sure many an American Prom had photographers present and whatnot, but from everyone I’ve talked to about it the consensus was it was always pretty lame and disappointing.  Whatever this guy was doing at the Psych Ball was working though.  Every picture I saw that he took came out fantastic and, well, professional, and all with three little clicks of the camera.

Honestly, there wasn’t that much of a difference between Prom and these Balls, but there was a more mature air about them, less of a need to impress or make one last stand before college.  Everything was more relaxed, fun, and, even if it’s just because it’s called a Ball, more elegant and refined.  What’s in a name?



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