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Going solo to the prom

Prom night can be a source of excitement and anticipation. After all, it's a rite of passage in which most high schoolers participate every year. For the potential promgoer who doesn't anticipate having a date, the prom may be a source of anxiety and embarrassment. But it doesn't have to be. The times have changed, and nowadays going to the prom solo no longer carries the social stigma it once did.

In years past, finding a date to the prom was a big deal. Individuals who didn't have a current boyfriend or girlfriend had to scramble to find someone with whom to attend. Some schools had strict restrictions on dates, requiring male-female duos. It was not strange to ask a family member to attend so that you didn't have to walk in alone.

Today, the rules are much more lax, and many students have discovered the advantages of going to the dance stag or simply with a group of friends. As a result, promgoers aren't tied to one individual for the entire night and won't feel guilty if they want to slow dance with another. In addition, it gives kids the chance to mingle and hang out with many different people.

Here are some other ways to ensure fun at a prom, even if you're attending solo.

* Ask your close group of friends what their plans are for the prom. You just may find that there are some friends of both genders who don't have dates. Consider going with one of your friends as platonic dates. Then you'll always have a standby partner for photos and those mushy slow songs.

* Go with a group of people and sit together at the same table. This way you'll chat with like-minded people, can get up to dance for upbeat songs together, and choose to sit out the slow songs together should that be your choice.

* Attend the prom for the memories, but go in with no expectations. Many students build up prom night in their heads, attaching false expectations to the event that most proms cannot live up to. Prom night doesn't have to be the evening when you drink alcohol for the first time or lose your virginity. There's a good chance it won't be the Cinderella story as portrayed in stereotypical prom movies. Your life will not change for the better or for the worse due to prom night alone. Think of it as simply another chance to have fun with high school friends.

* Don't spend a fortune unnecessarily. According to recent statistics, the average prom night costs between $500 and several thousand dollars, depending on all the extras tacked on. Some girls equate prom night to their wedding day, splurging on designer gowns and days spent in salons prepping. To impress dates, stretch limousines or large party buses are booked. If the plan is to continue the fun outside of the prom, scale back on prom budget so you'll have funds later for a late-night trip to the diner or a favorite hot spot. Girls can rent gowns just as gents rent tuxedoes. Go to a beauty school for a discount hairdo and lower-cost manicure. Think about a classy town car instead of an over-the-top limo, particularly if you don't have many people riding together.

* If you choose not to attend, that's okay, too. As schools continue to up the prom ante, selecting expensive venues at top-dollar prices, many savvy students simply do not see the advantage to attending prom. On prom night, get together with friends who have also decided to pass and make plans for a fun night. Think about attending a play or show, going to a comedy club, hanging out watching silly prom movies, or leave for a weekend getaway.

There are no longer hard-set rules for prom attendance. There's no reason to be embarrassed about attending the event without a date, as long as you have fun doing it.