There's a frenetic buildup that culminates in Prom Night


Brinson Byrd and Sarah Peebles, left, dance alongside Anders Hobbs and Andrea Barranco last Saturday at Gainesville High School's 2003 junior-senior prom at the UF Doubletree Hotel and Conference Center.

DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Thursday, May 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, May 1, 2003 at 12:39 a.m.

Maybe the worst part of prom for Alex Awbrey, a 16-year-old junior at Gainesville High School, was letting her older sister, Ashley, help her put on makeup.

Facts

The Prom lineup

EASTSIDE HIGH'S 2003 PROM, "An Evening Under the Stars"

  • When: Saturday, 8 p.m-12:30 a.m.
  • Where: Sheraton Hotel, SW 13th Street

    BUCHHOLZ HIGH'S 2003 PROM, "Heaven On Earth"
  • When: Saturday, 8 p.m.-midnight
  • Where: Reitz Union, UF campus

    P.K. YONGE'S 2003 PROM, "Nuit d'Amore"
  • When: Saturday, 8 p.m.-midnight
  • Where: University Centre Hotel, SW Archer Road

    HAWTHORNE HIGH'S 2003 PROM, "Cherish the Moment"
  • When: Friday, May 16, 8 p.m.-midnight
  • Where: Savannah Grande. N. Main Street, Gainesville

    LOFTEN HIGH'S 2003 PROM, "Starry, Starry Night"
    When: Friday, May 16, 7-10 p.m.
  • Where: at Loften, E. University Avenue
  • Newberry High School's prom was March 22; Santa Fe High's was March 28; Gainesville High's and Oak Hall's was April 26.

  • "What are you doing!?" Alex, seated on a stool in her bedroom, asks anxiously as her sister points an eyeliner pencil at her.

    "I'm putting this on," Ashley answers. "Would you . . ."

    "No, you're not," Alex replies, re-igniting a back-and-forth conversation that their mom, Linda, has probably heard a thousand times.

    "Yes, we are," Ashley insists.

    "No," Alex replies.

    "Yes, we are."

    "No."

    "Yes, we are."

    "I can't take it," says Alex, exasperated.

    Laughing, Ashley responds, "I know you can't, but it's funny. Why do you do that with your eyes? You're flinching."

    Alex pleads to her friend, Stephanie Shumate, who is looking in Alex's dresser mirror also putting on makeup, "Stephanie, tell me if she starts to make me look like a hooker."

    "Stop. If you keep moving, I'll knock you," Ashley threatens.

    It's about 5 p.m. Saturday, and Alex and Stephanie have been up since 7:30 a.m.

    As members of the GHS student senate, they are part of the crew responsible for decorating the ballroom at the University of Florida Doubletree Hotel for Gainesville High's prom.

    Between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., Alex, Stephanie and a group of other student senate members collaborate to decorate the room in the chosen "Before the Night Falls" theme.

    Ashley, a freshman at UF majoring in set design, pitches in to help assemble a faux waterfall made out of shimmering blue fabric that cascades behind a makeshift bridge, and the group of GHS students struggle to make trees out of cardboard and green balloons.

    "Hey, guys. I think it'd be better if you stepped back and looked at what you need," Stephanie yells to the group as they stand around one of the trees trying to turn a string of dark green balloons into a tree top.

    Eventually, she walks over and lends a hand, within minutes the tree is complete, and she is ready to make her next stop - the hairdresser.

    Busy schedules

    Alex and Stephanie are not the only ones among the group with hectic schedules.

    Monique Gillum, a junior, laughs at junior class sponsor Lori Rodriguez, who suggests she take a nap before coming back to the hotel for the evening celebration.

    "I can't go home and sleep. I have a hair appointment at 1:15, then I have to go help someone else, then I have to go do my makeup and get dressed, and then I'm coming here.

    "And, I've been here since 8 o'clock this morning. Whew. I am tired," Monique explains to Lori.

    After leaving the hotel and taking a short break, Alex and Stephanie meet at Hair Hunters for their 3 p.m. appointment.

    By the time Stephanie makes it to Hair Hunters, she still has no idea how she wants her hair done. She eagerly flips through hair design books.

    Alex, on the other hand, comes with her Teen Star Styles magazine in hand and has dog-eared the page "Prom Styles That Sizzle," to show her hairdresser.

    The two girls sit in chairs facing each other, a mirror separating them, as their hairdressers brush, straighten, twist, pin and hair-spray their hair.

    By the time half of Alex's hair has been straightened with a flat iron, Stephanie and her hairdresser are still discussing how to have her hair fixed.

    "I don't know what I want," Stephanie says as she flips through the pages of Alex's Teen Star Styles magazine. "I don't want to look like a stiff head."

    Within an hour, Alex's hair closely resembles the teen model in the picture, with the addition of baby's breath that her mom, Linda, ran out and purchased just for the occasion. Stephanie's hair is getting a final blast from a hair spray bottle.

    "Ah, that's beautiful. Look at her, she looks like a princess," Linda announces about her daughter.

    "Oh, the back is so pretty. Ooh, I love the back. That's super cool. I love the back," Stephanie says as Alex models her new hairdo.

    "The oohs and ahhs have started," Linda says, smiling. "Your father will be crazy tonight. I'll have to send him off. He can't stand (the oohs and ahhs)."

    The two girls plan to be at prom by 9 p.m. and have 4 hours before they go to Alex's house, put on makeup, get dressed, meet at Lake Alice to take pictures with the other nine guys and girls they will go to prom and have dinner with. Whew.

    Not what she expected

    Aside from Alex's older sister torturing her with an eyeliner pencil (and later a mascara wand), an alligator at Lake Alice swimming up to the shore as the group and their paparazzi of parents took pictures, and a group of students ripping down Ashley's waterfall at prom, Saturday night was a lot of fun, according to Alex.

    "It was different from what I thought it would be. But different in a good way," Alex explained a few days after the big event. "You plan for prom all year and you think it's going to be a certain way, and then it's different. I can't explain it."

    Alex planned to spend Sunday at the beach recuperating with her friends.

    Somehow, not surprisingly, she was "too tired" to go.

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