For weeks, officials at Calvin Coolidge High School had been looking for a plane to have the homecoming dance, and finally D.C. Del. Walter E. Fauntroy held out the possibility of having it on Capitol Hill.
Hundreds of Coolidge students were looking forward to boogeying in the basement of the Rayburn House Office Building to the sounds of the Mass Extinction band. Some of the girls had new dresses. A few fellows had new suits. The Coolidge Colts football team was geared up to beat Roosevelt for the first time in eight years.
But late Thursday afternoon, the day before the dance was to be held, Fauntroy's office discovered that a teen-age dance was not permissilbe on House of Representatives property.
Fauntroy's office had directed school officials to an employe of the Committee on House Administration, who had given preliminary approval for the affairs. But that employe, it turned out, was the chief caterer, responsible for booking dates, not approving requests.
So, the Coolidge homecoming dance became a dream deferred, and the Colts lost to Roosevelt, 14-13, on a touchdown scored after Coolidge had been penalized on the play that would have ended the game.
Coolidge senior Kevin Mayfield had to find somewhere else to wear his blue-and-beige Yves St. Laurent suit with matching suede shoes that he had purchased for the dance. Senior Yvette Hanson was also let down. "I was all prepared. I had this slick little outfit to wear. Had everything all laid out," she said yesterday.
And Terri Davis, the 17-year-old homecoming queen, had her official reign postponed. At halftime of the football game, she played flute and marched with the band. She was called out to the center of the field to be introduced, but the king was nowhere to be found. No king, No dance.
"I just wish we could have one," Davis said in the stands, as friends gathered around to look at the jeweled tiara on her head. "I feel happy because I won the election for queen, but I'll have to find somewhere else to go tonight."
Neither school principal Otis Thompson nor Margaret Carroll, the Coolidge teacher who served as liaison with Fauntroy's office, blamed the congressman for the bumbled planning.
And Fauntroy's office does not accept the blame. "They were not misled. We did not mislead them," said Fauntroy spokesman Eldridge Spearman.
Kathy Lapko, office manager for the Committee on House Administration, said the inconvenient last-minute postponement could have been avoided had her office heard from Fauntroy earlier. Fauntroy's formal request for use of the facilities arrived at 3:20 p.m. Wednesday, two days before the dance.
Several of the students who stood outside the school in a nippy fall wind watching the game yesterday, focused their anger on "the system," an impersonal "they."
"They should have told us right away. Now what are we supposed to say?" said Mayfield. "It won't be the same [later]. Today is the day."
Gone are the days when Coolidge has its homecoming dance at home -- at the school. Two years ago, the dance was held at the school and young people -- school officials said the culprits were outsiders -- tore the place apart.
"To protect the building, I said we would not hold any dance here because they would do something to destroy the building trying to get in free," said Thompson, the principal.
Last year the dance was held at a Catholic church, but every church approached this year declined to host any large group of minors, Carroll said. When other places proved either unavailable or too high in price, she said, "we thought we could call our congressman."
Carroll called Fauntroy's office and was told that if the caterer approved, the dance could be held. Carroll then sent Fauntroy a letter formally requesting his sponsorship for the event. That letter arrived last Friday. Fauntroy's request for the space arrived across the street at the House office five days later.
"It might have helped tremendously if the latter came to us in a more timely fashion," Lapko said yesterday.
Spearman blamed the delay on the mails.