Skipping Semiformal

By Ashley Halkett

While many of their peers were dressing up and preparing for a Casino Royale Semiformal, Joey Meyer ’09 and Sean Kesluk ’09 enjoyed a very different kind of night. The two friends opted against the dance, choosing instead to go out for sushi and arcade games before returning home to watch the Australian Open final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Neither have any regrets.

“If I’m going to spend all that money on clothing, tickets, a limo, why would it be to pretend I’m having fun?” Kesluk said, shrugging. “It’s not worth it. I can spend 20 bucks on movie tickets and have a better time.”

Meyer agreed wholeheartedly, although for him money wasn’t the main concern.

“The actual Semiformal is like a bar mitzvah, and I’ve been to a lot of those,” Meyer said. “And there’s no Pepsi 7-Up game, and that’s my favorite part.”

Meyer and Kesluk are just two of many students that decided well in advance not to attend the dance, held at the Sheraton Universal on Jan. 31 from 8 to 11 p.m. Roughly 800 students attended the dance, according to Director of Student Affairs Jordan Church, while 28 percent of upper school students reported in an online survey that they did not go to semiformal, with the majority listing money or lack of entertainment as their main concern.

The latter was the case for Caroline Groth ’10 and six of her friends, all of whom saw no compelling reason to attend the function. As an alternative they went to Koi in West Hollywood for dinner in a limo, since at Semiformal “there is not much of a theme or much to do other than dance,” Groth said. Groth also said that she would probably go if there were not a lockdown. The lockdown at the Semiformal every year requires students to stay at the hotel for a designated period of time. This year, attendees were not allowed into the dance after 9 p.m. and were prohibited from leaving before 10:30. Raeye Daniel ’09, who also decided against Semiformal in favor of a small get-together with friends at Marty Jackson’s ’09 house.

“The lockdown keeps people from really wanting to go. Why are we forced to stay?” Daniel said. “If the atmosphere and the music were better, more people would want to stay voluntarily.”

One group of sophomores and juniors went to a Katy Perry concert and the afterparty instead of attending the dance.

Some students feel that the dance is primarily for younger kids. Kimberly Wang ’09, who experienced her first Harvard-Westlake semiformal this year, said that she went because her friends wanted to have a reunion limo.

“It was fun hanging out with my friends and doing it for one last time, but high school dances get old after awhile,” she said.

However much students may dislike Semiformal, in the end high school dances have still managed to retain their title as an integral part of the high school experience — or at least Prom has.

“It’s my senior year and I feel like Prom is sort of that last bonding experience that we are going to have as a class, besides Grad Night,” Daniel said. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Despite his determination not to attend the semiformal dance, Meyer reached the same conclusion.

“I don’t want to become one of those guys who never went to their senior prom and have to live vicariously through others because they missed out on a classic childhood memory,” Meyer said sincerely, before breaking out into a smile.