The history of the People’s Prom on Valentine’s Day

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If you live in Vancouver long enough, you’re inevitably going to attend or meet someone who has attended the People’s Prom. This long-standing tradition started 13 years ago by a group of local activists. The intention was to throw a party that not only gave people who were bummed about Valentine’s Day something fun to do, but also raise funds for causes they felt were important – and underfunded.

Some people call it the prom you never had in high school. There won’t be any school monitors breathing down your back. Nope, anything goes – from costumes to dance moves.

The mandate is for everyone to have fun, feel comfortable and go crazy. It’s an all-inclusive good time. Every year the location changes, but one thing remains the same: there’s a strict prom dress code in effect. Anyone who shows up without an outfit that could have worked at their high school prom – or a Halloween party – isn’t welcome. In other words, don’t show up in street wear, and get creative.

“It’s up to each individual person to dress as crazy as they want,” says Cassin Elliott, one of the current members of the prom committee. “It’s a place where people feel comfortable, it’s a safe space to dress how ever you want. Prom dress, wedding dress, whatever.”

“Anyone who isn’t in a prom outfit will be turned away at the door,”

In addition to being a party, the People’s Prom is also a fundraiser.

A portion of the cover charge is put towards the People’s Trust Fund, a pot of money that funds groups who are “taking creative forms” when it comes to organizing peaceful protests.

“It’s funding the un-fundable,” says Elliott. “No one else is paying for people to make giant puppets.”

In 13 years, every single event has sold out. Elliott credits the popularity of the People’s Prom to the fact that it’s only put on once a year, and it gives people an alternative to traditional Valentine’s Day events.

This year, the People’s Prom will be held at the Ukrainian Hall. Advanced tickets are sold out but for the first time, there will be a handful of tickets available at the door. The prom starts at 8 p.m. One ticket per person.

The 13th Annual People’s Prom
Thursday Feb. 14th 8pm-1am
The Ukrainian Hall, 154 E. 10th Ave.

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