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My First and Last Homecoming

By Aleksandar Stosovic

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Homecoming originated as an annual tradition meant to celebrate the return of alumni to a high school or college. Niles West observes this yearly practice as well, and I attended the dance for the first time this year as a senior.

I never felt the need to go to homecoming before. From what I heard, it was loud, sweaty, overcrowded, the music sucked, and everyone was overdressed. I refused to go homecoming through my first three years as a high school student. However, I adopted a more open attitude about going this year, so I decided to give it a chance.

Most people I know went to previous homecomings with a date, so I managed to find one during the week before the dance. I usually wouldn’t bother to go anywhere with a date, but I felt like it was necessary because I wanted to appreciate the full homecoming experience.

After securing a partner to attend the dance with, I realized that I needed to get something to wear. We’d be taking pictures before getting there, so I decided that I’d have to look my best. And I did.

I went to two different places to take pictures before arriving to Niles West- a student’s house and a community center in Wilmette.

Upon arrival to the house I was stunned by the amount of drugs and alcohol I saw being consumed by my peers. I had never been a party-goer, and this was my first time witnessing the renowned practice of “pre-gaming”.

Pre-gaming is getting drunk, high, or both before going to an event that would otherwise make it impossible to do so on the premises. It was drastic to say the least, so I left the house immediately after taking a few pictures. I headed to Wilmette to meet the rest of my graduating class and take more pictures.

After taking pictures, I showed up nearly forty minutes after the dance began. The line was long, but the deans managed to move everybody through the doors quickly.

The dance itself was what I expected it to be. The mediocrity of the music was compensated with exaggerated volume and dramatic lighting, and the DJ had a hype man to keep the tightly packed crowd involved and attentive.

For the first fifteen minutes, I felt confused and out of place.

I didn’t know how to act, what to do, where to go, or why I was there. But then it all clicked- I realized that people who are this analytical don’t go to places like these in the first place. At this point I stopped asking myself questions about what I was supposed to do and did what everyone else did.

I succumbed to the behavior of the crowd because I realized it was the only way to somewhat enjoy what was going on. This worked surprisingly well for me as I found a group of friends I could dance with without caring about the bad music, the constant pushing and shoving, and the hellish temperature of the room. I cleared my mind and told myself to have a good time. So I did.

There isn’t much more to the actual dance. It’s a culmination of horny teenagers releasing their sexual frustrations on one another on the same floor used by the volleyball team after school.

Most upperclassmen didn’t stay at the actual dance for more than an hour- many students knew someone who hosted a party. I happened to be invited to one and showed up after showering and changing into more comfortable clothes. Not all parties are the same, however. Some are typical “bangers” characterized by loud music and debauchery, and others are relaxed “kickbacks” where inside voices are the name of the game.

I attended a kickback, and I found it quite enjoyable. I encountered underage drinking again, but it was much less extreme than I expected it to be. I made it home safely shortly after midnight with memories of a fairly positive experience.

Overall, I realized that homecoming is what you make of it. I was vehemently opposed to going my first three years because the thought of attending a school dance with hedonistic intentions genuinely repulsed me. I was insulted by anyone who even suggested that I should go. After this years experience, I realized that it isn’t all that bad.

The reality is that there is drug use, there is underage drinking, there is promiscuity. But if you do not wish to partake in these things, nobody will force you to. I was happy to see that nobody was pressured into drinking, and those who did were offered a ride home by their sober friends.

I made the best out of my experience, and I could say that I had a good time. A word of advice to those who refuse to go- you’re missing out. As long as you don’t pay attention to what’s going on around you, homecoming could be a memorable event.

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