Have you ever been to an LDS event that was so outstanding, so well done, so enjoyable, enlightening and uplifting that you wanted to preserve it and put it in your food storage? I mean, apart from when I’m speaking at church. (Seriously – when I’m speaking, a lot of people tell me that I should can it.) We get a lot of events of that caliber out here in Wisconsin. The latest was the “City of Lights Mormon Prom” sponsored last night by the Milwaukee South Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was simply the most amazing and enjoyable youth dance I’ve ever seen. This is becoming an annual tradition that smart LDS and non-LDS families will be sending their kids to for years to come. It’s just for kids age 16 through 18, and they must agree to follow high standards of dress and behavior. It’s a totally classy event and even includes professional-quality photography where individuals and groups can get beautiful photos taken that will be made available on Facebook.
Toward the end of the dance, I watched in amazement as nearly 100% of the young men were on the floor dancing with a partner. Only a handful of girls weren’t dancing, and I’m sure they would have been if only a few more guys had come. During the fast dances, behavior was wholesome and fun–none of the vulgarity that is often the norm at school dances. During the last slow dance, I looked at the faces of the kids and saw smiles, conversations taking place, and maybe a touch of romance in a case or two, and no inappropriate contact.
I drove a borrowed van there with six kids from the Appleton area (the Fox Valley). We’re almost 2 hours away from the South Milwaukee Stake Center (driving slower than normal), but it was completely worth the drive and I was so glad to be able to help kids, including my youngest son, get down there and experience this event. On the way back, I asked the kids about the dance. The general response agreed with my perception: probably “the best dance ever.” One of the girls said what made it different and great was that the boys were dancing. Others commented on how good the DJ was (they paid serious money for a true professional) and how fun the other kids were. They made friends, had a wonderful time, and were just delighted at what a wholesome dance can be like. Uplifting, well-organized events that bless the lives of youth and foster friendships–what’s not to love about this?
The event was not well supported in our area, for some reason. If other parents knew how important this kind of event was, more would have been there. One of my pet peeves as bishop was the lack of good LDS dances for the youth, and I even ran into trouble when my ward, with the help of my proactive future daughter-in-law in our ward, then a Laurel (who still doesn’t recognize that this was a totally arranged marriage), started organizing our own dances and inviting other wards. This is the model that the Milwaukee South Stake is following: creating a valuable service and inviting other stakes. Thank you!!
Our kids need a healthy, positive alternate to the out-of-control or outrageously uncontrolled proms offered by or through our school systems. Many kids really enjoy special dances where they can dress up, but need a more wholesome environment–an environment where girls are not expected to dress as if they were erotic objects, where young men are expected to behave as gentlemen with self-control and politeness, and where music is more than pulsation and vulgarity. It began with prayer, ended in prayer, and included some very positive and uplifting words from Brother Mortimer of the Stake Presidency at the end.
I knew that the Mormon Prom dance would be something unusual when I heard that “recommends” signed by a bishop were needed to go. Dance recommends?? My mistake—it is actually a “dance card” or rather a one-page form that states the standards of dress and behavior expected and requires the participant to commit to keeping those standards. The form needed to be signed by the participant and the bishop. No signed dance card, no admittance. I’m sure they had backup plans to handle those who lost theirs or didn’t know, but it was clear that they were serious about the standards. So serious that there was even a side room set up with a sign describing it as “The Modesty Room” where I believe several women were ready with shrugs and other means to help any young lady who did wander in with an inappropriate dress. This wasn’t about turning people away, but turning them towards higher standards and behavior, with loving help and guidance.
Kudos to South Milwaukee Stake and their terrific youth who organized the event and created the beautiful decorations. Kudos to the leaders and youth of the Stake and its wards, and to the other wards and stakes that participated, including a big group of kids from the Green Bay Stake, even further to the north of Milwaukee that we are. Kudos also to the photographer, Don Crowther–-also a popular speaker, business leader, master social networker, and marketer. I learned a lot watching him work with the young people, by the way, and got some terrific career advice while chatting with him.
This was a memorable and inspiring event in many ways. Even better than one of my sermons, I suppose. If you’re in Wisconsin, let your kids plan on it for next year.