My matric dance: a deceitful evening

By Nandi Majola

The journey to my Matric dance is one which I can clearly recall. During the April school holidays, I made my way to Braamfontein to have my measurements taken. My dress would only be worn in July but I had been planning this evening for most of my high school life. It had to be perfect.

Anticipation for the dance really spiked in the last few months of Grade 11. We had bid the class of 2010 farewell and were starting to enjoy some of our privileges as the Matric class of the following year. We had exams of our own to prepare for, but my friends and I did not miss an opportunity to do some important research for our dance. Our afternoons after school were spent googling celebrities on the red carpet. I even remember creating and saving folders with hair, make-up and dress ideas. Looking back, I think I went a little bit overboard…

At the start of Matric, conversations about potential dates had begun in earnest. In my circle of friends it was important to talk about who we were interested in taking because we wanted to make sure that we were not asking the same guys. I was very indecisive when it came to that particular aspect of the dance. I had written down some names in my notebook, but none of the guys were what I was looking for and I did not know many. I was not too keen on inviting the same partner from my Grade 11 dance because as handsome as he was, he failed to fulfil his duties as a date, firstly by arriving late and then by chatting to another girl the entire night!

As 23 July 2011 drew closer, the nerves and excitement also took off. I had made regular trips to my dress designer who was starting to add the finishing touches. By the time of my final fitting, I had completely fallen in love with my dress. I thought it was going to be suitable for our theme which was “Hollywood in the 50s”. I was also slowly beginning to accept that I was not going to find a date in time. My dreams of having a grand entrance in a vintage car began to seem like an impossible reality when I realised that I was not going to go to my Matric dance with the date of my dreams. Instead, I would have to spend the night I had been preparing for months for, “alone”.

On the day of my Matric dance, I woke up and did a celebratory dance. I was beside myself with joy. A whole day would be dedicated to doing hair and make-up and being treated like royalty. On this day, we also heard the sad news of Amy Winehouse’s passing. I could not believe it, but I put it aside in my mind to focus on the day’s festivities. When I finished at the hair salon, I raced to the other side of town to do my make-up. It was my first time having my make-up done professionally. I could not recognise myself in the mirror when my face was complete. With my dress, I knew that I was going to look beautiful. Amid the excitement of getting ready, I tried to ignore the fact that I was going to have to walk the red carpet alone. I had given up on the idea of getting a cool ride and decided to go to my dance in my Dad’s car. When we arrived at the venue, I realised that it was not a bad idea at all.

The traffic snaked its way up the hill to the Hellenic Hall. I realised that if I wanted to be seated in time, I would have to trek up this hill in my heels. The wind did not help. I tried to be merry even though inside I could not believe that this was happening. Some grand entrance! When I reached the top of the hill, I hoped that my make-up was not ruined by the tiny sweat I starting to break into.

I pulled myself together. All eyes were now on me. I felt claustrophobic as I greeted my teachers alone. I had been envisioning this moment for months and it was a nerve-wrecking one indeed. I could feel everybody’s questions. “Where is her date?” “Is he still coming?” “She doesn’t have one?” When I walked to the end of the red carpet I received my rose and stepped into the hall…it was heavenly.

Except for the particular moment when I arrived alone, I can barely remember my Matric dance. It was all a blur to be honest. I remember that the music was yawn-worthy, and by the time it was the main course of our menu, people were already making plans to leave so that they could get to the venue of the after-party. If there were any grand entrances in limousines or helicopters, I had missed them. It was not all a complete bore, but I do wish that we had not allowed this event to take our hearts and minds by control. Seriously, there have been much more important things to worry about as my journey so far in university has taught me.

Most people say that your Matric Dance is second to your wedding day as far as “big days” are concerned, but I am certain that I will not spend as much energy on my wedding as I did for my Matric dance. I might even be barefoot.

(For pictures of the night, look here)

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