Not Your Parents’ Prom: Inside Philly’s Elaborate Send-Off Culture

By Cassie Owens
Philly.com

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Prom send-offs are the party before the party. The basic premise, an opportunity for relatives and family friends to fawn over the prom-goers. These days, however, in Philly’s black community in particular, the prom send-off can be much bigger than the prom itself.

PHILADELPHIA

Saudia Shuler had promised that there would be action.

Last year the North Philly mom made national headlines after dropping $25K for a prom send-off.

You might remember the camel she hired for her son, J.J. Eden Jr.’s, Dubai-themed bash. When it came to creating a send-off this year based on the film “Black Panther,” let’s just say she sensed which way to go.

Her panther, Queen, stayed caged and mostly quiet Wednesday evening as hundreds of people gathered, scores of them in costume, on 22nd Street near Shuler’s soul food restaurant. Who would benefit from Shuler’s largesse this year?

She had held a sort of casting call for the fete; she chose Dayanna McBride, a graduating senior at the YesPhilly school from South Philly as the star of her show, which went up almost immediately on social media.

Prom send-offs are the party before the party. The basic premise, an opportunity for relatives and family friends to fawn over the prom-goers, is a custom that goes way back. These days, however, in Philly’s black community in particular, the prom send-off can be much bigger than the prom itself.

Many families have journeyed past the living room photo opps with trays of light bites. It is common now to see black mothers ordering custom photo backdrops and enlisting DJs and photographers. We’ve witnessed a James Bond-themed production where a lucky couple traveled by helicopter. Who needs to borrow Mom and Dad’s wheels when one can rent a Rolls?

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