The Death of School Dances: How We Cancelled Winter Homecoming


Maggie Craig

South Forsyth High School cancels their first Winter Homecoming due to lack of participation. Students found the dance to be “not worth” the time and money, but is there something else that’s causing the “death” of school dances?

Maggie Craig, Editor-In-Chief

As winter break came to an end, I returned to my club duties and checked my unopened messages. Our sponsors received an email saying that we needed to nominate representatives from our clubs for the Winter Homecoming Dance in February, so I quickly sent out messages to my members, anticipating a flood of responses and nominations since many students participated in Homecoming back in the Fall. 

However, I soon found myself urging members to nominate one another after being met with swift, apathetic silence.

At the beginning of January, South Forsyth High School made the announcement that they would be hosting a second Homecoming Dance to celebrate basketball and winter sports. This Homecoming would’ve been the first winter dance in SFHS history, until it was unfortunately canceled on Jan. 27 due to the lack of interest from the student body. 

This lack of interest was initially confounding. Every year in the Fall, the student body generates a ton of hype around the football Homecoming game and dance, a tradition that’s been going on at South since the opening of the school. Most of the students and staff dress up for Spirit Week, HoCo proposals flood social media and the student body section sees its largest numbers at the Homecoming football game.

Why then, did high school students find this new dance to be “lame,” if they participated so enthusiastically in the other identical high school functions? 

When I first heard about the second Homecoming, I was excited to get dressed up and dance to overplayed pop songs with my friends. But as I asked around, no one seemed interested in going. There was an overwhelming lack of enthusiasm for the Winter Homecoming that may come from a mixture of peer pressure, “bandwagoning” and Generation Z‘s penchant for apathy. 

“The Lonely Generation” 

Gen Z apathy derives from their increasing belief in nihilism, or the philosophical viewpoint that existence is useless since death is inevitable. Many researchers have identified several factors which have encouraged this nihilistic outlook on life, including technology and social media, increasing mental health issues and climate anxiety

While there are many factors to consider, older generations often see Gen Z’s lack of motivation to socialize as a sense of entitlement. Millennials and Gen X individuals grew up without an abundance of technology and access to the Internet, so they took advantage of opportunities to go out and socialize with peers at school dances or other events. Now that social media and streaming services are commonplace, many Gen Z teenagers would rather stay at home instead of going out to social areas. 

According to a 2022 study from Morning Consult, 65% of Gen Z respondents claimed they spent more time per week interacting with their peers via video games than at school (64%) or work (51%).

Despite Gen Z’s nihilistic views and tendency toward self-isolation, are we really choosing to be “lonely,” or do we just feel like most events are simply not “worth it”? In the case of Winter Homecoming, I interviewed several SFHS students, asking them why they decided not to attend the dance. 

“[Winter Homecoming] was [scheduled at] a weird time in the year,” said junior Ava Sanders. “The weather isn’t as nice, and people have to buy a whole new dress, so for some [students], it wasn’t worth it.” 

Sanders, who originally wanted to attend the Winter Homecoming, also identified shortcomings in its marketing towards students, her peers.

“I feel like students judged it before they could even give it a chance,” Sanders said. “Since it wasn’t marketed since the first semester [students] were just like, ‘Oh, this is very last-minute. They’re doing this just to get us more involved. We don’t want to do it.’” 

However, according to Student Council club sponsor Leah McGray, that was not the case. 

“Several students told me they didn’t know about it,” said McGray. “Though, it was put on the school calendar in August. And we started sending out information from the very start of the [first] semester.”

McGray, who is in charge of planning football Homecoming, was put in charge of the new Winter Homecoming. With the help of Student Council, she wanted to host this new dance to “build school spirit” and “get interest” in the spring and winter sports, as those sports often don’t get as much appreciation as Fall sports do.

McGray initially got a lot of requests from students to have a winter dance, but when it became a real project, she received less enthusiasm for it.  

“I heard that people didn’t want to buy another dress,” she said. “So, I reduced the ticket cost to try to get interest, and that didn’t help.” 

The “Bandwagon” Effect 

 McGray believes that “bandwagoning” may be partially responsible for the cancellation of Winter Homecoming. 

“Some students said that their friends weren’t going, so they weren’t going to go,” she explained. 

The “bandwagon effect” is a psychological phenomenon where individuals will only do something if they see other people doing it. This phenomenon is also called the “herd mentality” or “groupthink.” With Winter Homecoming, many students noticed that others didn’t want to go, so they decided not to go as well. 

In the setting of school events, many students participate in Fall Homecoming and Prom, and it could be because those events see a large attendance every year. Fall Homecoming and Prom are also longtime traditions at SFHS, and tradition is a form of groupthink.

Since Winter Homecoming was a new concept, there possibly wasn’t enough societal pressure that helps perpetuate the attendance of the other school functions. 

Sanders also witnessed the underclassmen’s response to the new dance, and she stated, “The freshmen thought, ‘who’s going to really go to that?’”

Everyone believed that no one was planning to attend, so naturally, no one wanted to go.

This “safety in numbers” mode of defense made wanting to go to the dance seem unnatural. Sanders believes that many of the underclassmen depended on everyone else’s opinion of the dance. Since the general consensus was that it was “lame,” no one dared to buy a ticket out of fear of acting apart from the crowd. 

In Defense of School Dances

Regardless of whether it was your nihilistic outlook on life, the bandwagon effect, or simply because you didn’t feel like going, I think every high school student should start partaking in these school events, no matter how “uncool” they may seem.

Yes, the DJs are terrible, the decorations are subpar, and the food is primarily nonexistent, but those factors are all classic staples of the high school dance experience. To enjoy a school dance, you have to keep your expectations low and have the right people to go with. If dancing isn’t your thing, you may not enjoy the dark and deafening ambiance of a school dance. But after the pandemic, we can’t take these cheesy social events for granted.

As a senior who has gone to many Homecomings and Proms, don’t rule them out from your high school experience. You’ll never know if you’re going to actually hate something or find it lame if you never try it. 

We could try it again; I’m not opposed to it. I just don’t know how to get students involved.

— Leah McGray

The next time South attempts to create another social event in between Fall Homecoming and Prom, everyone should attend. Show up. Bring your friends and create new traditions at SFHS.

At the end of the day, we’re only in high school for four years. The time is too short to not try new things. Take that fine arts class you’ve always wanted to take, wear that colorful outfit to school and enjoy school-sanctioned events. Dances may be “overrated”, but they only come once or twice a year. You can spend all of your other weekends staying at home and watching Netflix.

And if you find out that you don’t enjoy school dances after attending one, try it again. I hated my freshman year Homecoming experience, and I vowed to myself that I’d never go to a school dance ever again. But thankfully, I caved, and the next school dance I attended was my junior year Prom. It was one of the best nights of my life. 

I know our generation doesn’t “do” socialization, but I urge you to get out of your comfort zone and try your best to enjoy yourself at school dances because I promise you, they’re enjoyable as long as you go with an open mind and good group of friends.