As coronavirus cancellations bring schools across the world to a standstill, depriving young people of the kind of precious memories made in classes, at sporting events and dances, teenager Natalie Reese of Danville, California, mourned the cancellation of her school prom.
“I had already bought my dress,” the 17-year-old San Ramon Valley High School student said. “I had my makeup — I already had my hair planned.”
But instead of packing away the pink dress for another day, Reese decided to put it on, fix up her makeup and hair and head downstairs to the family living room. There she met up with the other five members of her family and staged her own prom in isolation. Her date that night? Her dad, Bryan Reese.
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“He was the only man in the house,” Natalie said, “so I asked him to be my date, and he gladly agreed.”
Reese posted videos of the stay-at-home prom on the social media site TikTok. A clip of Reese dancing with her dad gathered several million views. So did the video of family members dancing in formal wear, parading in pairs through the house like a Broadway chorus line.
Reese described the experience as “a way to get out of bed, put a smile on your face and make the best of a situation, and that was really motivating to me.”
Reese loved her makeshift prom so much, this past Saturday she organized a day-long worldwide TikTok prom, encouraging people to post their own videos of their stay-at-home event. She got responses from around the world, including Germany and the Netherlands.
“In a time where there’s suffering all around us, to have a kid that is naturally joyful – I think we need that,” said Reese’s mother Laurie Reese. “I think we all need that spark.”
To Reese, the event created a once-in-a-lifetime memory — maybe not the one she originally envisioned — but one uniquely forged by truly unprecedented times. Somewhere in there was a message.
“My message is just to keep on smiling,” Reese said. “This is temporary. It’s going to get better. It’s going to get better.”