Nowadays, in order for a high school prom to garner national attention, something rather extraordinary — or, better yet, something vaguely scandalous — has to occur before, during or after the event.
For example, maybe some indignant chaperones spray kids with Lysol after they discover the students “grinding” on the dance floor. Or a student uses a social networking site to ask a movie star or country music singer to be his or her date — and the actor, actress or singer says yes. Or a same-sex couple is crowned king and queen by their peers.
But back in the day — specifically, back in 1958 — students at an Ohio high school simply had to stay awake in order to get their names and faces in the June 9, 1958, issue of LIFE magazine. Stay awake and dance, that is. And go riverboating. And eat breakfast. And ride roller coasters. And dance some more. . . .
“Traditionally,” LIFE noted in its June 9, 1958, issue, “senior proms are the high school students’ big night to howl. To keep them happy and off the roads and ultimately wear them out, many high schools now sponsor all-night dances. The only trouble is that each generation seems to take longer to wear out.”
The article continued:
Students at Mariemont High School near Cincinnati came close to the ultimate this year when they put on a “prom” that lasted almost 32 hours. It started with a progressive dinner (spaghetti to strawberry cake), followed by a formal but highly energetic dance. Then the students boarded a river boat for a cruise and dancing to a jazz combo. Dawn found them somewhat subdued and back at the school for breakfast. Sent home for a short rest period, they emerged refreshed and descended on an amusement park. By nightfall half the students had discovered they were mortal and had gone home to bed. The rest whipped up another dance. “It keeps getting better and better,” one said, “as I get more and more numb.”