Vanhojen tanssit

Vanhojen tanssit

Vanhojen tanssit or Wanhojen tanssit in Finnish (English: "The senior ball"), or De äldstes dag in Swedish (English: "The oldest's day"), is a formal prom held in Finnish upper secondary schools ("lukio") during the second year. It is a celebration of the fact that the 2nd year students are now the oldest of the school. The prom is usually held in February the day after the 3rd year students (or older) have finished school, after which they have a study break to prepare them for the matriculation exams. Sometimes the first word is spelled with a "w" for a more archaic feel. The people attending the dances are called "Vanhat" (or "Wanhat"; "The old").

The Finnish Wanhojen tanssit is usually more formal than the American prom - in the sense that the dances are in fact old, performed for example in some royal courts. The "Polonaise" is generally the opening dance. Other dances are the "Waltz", "Salty Dog Rag", "Quadrille", "Virginia Reel", "Krakowia", "Mignon", "Cicapo", "Gay Gordons", "Viennese Waltz", "Pas d'Espagne" and "Tango". Usually the event takes place in a big hall, often the school hall/gym, but an appropriate space may also be rented. The exact programme varies from school to school. In most schools a course for the students to prepare them for the ball is held.

Students attending the ball dress in formal attire; white tie (sometimes replaced with tuxedo) for boys and full-length evening gowns or dresses for girls. The dress code has somewhat changed during the course of time; the original idea in this event was to dress in old-fashioned outfits. This is still noticeable, as the girls' gowns are often modeled after historical styles and sometimes the boys wear historical suits for this occasion. Each person has a partner with whom they practice and then dance at the ball. Since girls usually outnumber boys in Finnish high schools (and other upper-level education) boys may occasionally have to get several partners. Girls may also dance with another girl - either all the time or for half a show and then switch to dance with a boy - wearing either a dress or a suit depending from what they want (or what the school regulations are).

The choreographies are rehearsed from the past autumn till February. Students mostly have two showings: one around midday for the other class levels at their school and later another for parents, who attend the event held in the afternoon or evening. In bigger cities some schools take part in the joint grand prom of the schools in the region for the evening event.

After the dances in the evening a dinner is held in a sometimes very formal restaurant. Afterparties may occur with more dancing and/or drinking.

External links

* [ Short video clip from French-Finnish School in Helsinki] (2007)
* [ 7 minutes long video showing most of the popular dances from Ressun lukio, Helsinki] (2007)

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