With Semi just around the corner, copy editor Kate Jeffries reflects on the unnecessary expenses and stress surrounding the event. Photo courtesy of Kate Jeffries.
By Kate Jeffries
Upon the often dismal return to school after holiday break, many students are likely to be found buzzing with curiosity about the next major event on the Menlo campus: Semi Formal.
Semi Formal, commonly referred to as “Semi” is one of the two formal dances Menlo hosts each year and the only formal dance open to the entire Upper School. The dance itself hardly differs from other Menlo dances such as the Back to School dance or Homecoming dance with the exception of the decorations and use of the entire West Gym. Yet, the stigma surrounding Semi from deciding what to wear to who to bring is not worth the weeks of contemplation and stress that many Menlo students make it out to be.
You may be thinking that I am simply against formal dances which is not the case. In fact, I have had an overall great experience at the past two Menlo Semi Formals I have attended so I am far from being against formal dances. However, I still believe that Semi in particular gets an unnecessarily large amount of attention in the Menlo community considering it is simply just another school dance.
Before we discuss the dance itself, we first must address the extremely public methods of asking one to the dance that have become a part of Menlo culture. Dance asks used to be a simple conversation in which one person asks the other to go to the dance with them. Today, this is rarely the case at Menlo and is even looked down upon as lack of creativity to simply talk to the person you intend on taking to the dance. Nowadays, the more elaborate your poster is or the nicer your store bought bouquet of flowers looks, the better your ask is considered to be.
To be clear, I think the idea of asking someone with a cute pun or buying them one of their favorite candies isn’t always a negative thing. However, the issue with asking using posters, flowers or food is that now asking in elaborate, public methods has become the standard on the Menlo campus. Dance asks at Menlo have become a competition of sorts in both creativity and production. Additionally, with many outgoing methods of asking someone to the dance, underclassmen or just students that tend to be more shy may feel intimidated to put themselves out there in such a public way. The culture present at Menlo makes people feel obligated to spend both time and money just to ask someone to the dance in the first place instead of simply being able to talk to them about going to the dance together.
In addition to spending money on asking your date to the dance and purchasing tickets, both girls and guys feel inclined to wear their best suit or newest and nicest dress to the dance. Girls are often found scrolling through seemingly never ending online boutiques in search of the perfect dress; a task that takes an immense amount of time and distracts from schoolwork. Once you have gone through the extensive process of finding a dress, the price is often steep for a dress that you most likely will only wear a few times or less. Although in my experience, guys spend less time than girls on finding the perfect outfit, the price of a new jacket or tie is often equally as expensive.
To clarify, I am not writing this article with the intention of convincing people to not attend Semi. In fact, I have attended every Menlo dance since my freshman year. That being said, as much as I love Semi, there are certain aspects of the culture that surrounds Semi Formal in particular that can have negative impacts on the community even if they might at first be seemingly harmless.