ON FAITH/ LOCAL: A procession of limousines dropped off young people dressed in tuxedos and evening gowns to the Annandale, Virginia stake center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last weekend. When the teens entered, they were welcomed with a London theme, adorned with British Union Jacks and other trimmings.
There were British soldiers posted outside the building, ladies with fashionable hats welcoming couples and a towering replica of London’s “Big Ben,” clock that loomed over a dance floor in the gym that was filled with teenagers dancing to the sounds of Michael Jackson.
“I love it. It’s amazing. They put so much work into it,” said Katrina Bache of Rockville as she danced with her date, Michael Draper during an event where religious affiliations, ethnic backgrounds and traditions took a back seat to chivalry and old fashion fun. The annual dance has been hosted by the Mormon church in Northern Virginia for a decade.
Ann Bush, coordinator of the event which attracted more than 700 people, said the theme “London Calling” was designed to give them an escape from a world.
“We wanted to take them away for the night and just let them have fun. One girl said this doesn’t even look like our church,” Bush said. “Kids today have so many pressures, worries and concerns, we just wanted to create an environment that was safe.”
Katie Taylor, the youth coordinator of the event, said the Mormon prom was a nice event because of what people didn’t have to worry about: “The drink, you have to wonder if its safe. The music, it kind of make you feel awkward. At this prom you don’t have to worry about any of that.”
Douglas Bush, president of the Annandale stake, was glad that so many of the young people from the church brought their school friends as dates. “This is a great way for young people in the church to show their friends that they can live according to certain standards but still have a lot of fun.”
Bush said about 150 adults had some role in the planning and preparation of the event.
One of the most extensive parts of prom preparation was transforming the corridors of the church into Portobello Road, a popular London strip that had a sweet shop, a smoothie shop, vintage shop photo booth. Ann Bush, who was born in England, said the event made her long for home. “I am always home sick for England.”
William Nixon, president of the Mt. Vernon stake said “This event began as an alternative to the high school prom where the young people would be a little safer, a little less drinking and less focus on sex. Over the years these proms have taken a life of their own. We have even had people fly in from other states.”
Calvin Walters, 16, and his date Rachel Knutti, also 16, were among about were among the young people at the event. As Walters strolled a corridor filled with sweets, finger foods, and pretty people, said “I love it. This shows that we can have fun and still be a good example for the Lord.”