Okay, so. I'm working on story wherein my main character has dropped out of school, but is going back for her prom night - she hasn't officially dropped out, but her parents died and she hasn't been back since. It wasn't that long ago, so given her bereavement the school probably just thinks she's off in mourning, and she hasn't told them she's not coming back.
The trouble is, I'm Australian, and our school dances are - I believe - not much like US proms. So I've got no idea what would actually happen on the night. I know one's date typically picks one up in a limo, often shared with 1-3 other friendly couples, and I know there's dancing when you get there, and I know - vaguely - about the Prom King/Queen stuff (although I've heard about a Prom Court, and what's _that_? Runners-up?) but I have no idea about the general structure of the event.
So, some specific questions, plus please feel free to give any other info I may not have known to ask for!
• When in the school year is the prom typically held?
• Are non-student partners allowed?
• Despite her recent absence, she'd still be allowed in, right? Especially as the date of another student?
• What happens when everyone turns up?
• Is there a dinner, or is it all dancing?
• Are there any 'formal' dances with your specific partner, or is it all straight into modern music from the get-go, and associating with your date is up to you?
• At what point in the evening would the Prom King/Queen stuff be done?
• Are there any other specific events during the night?
• How late do proms usually go?
• Is there a formal endpoint, or does it just end when the last students have trickled away to after-parties/fumbling sex with their dates?
• What kind of treatment/social reaction is the main character likely to get if she goes as the date of one of the background faces in the "cool kids" group? (See below for details of the social milieu:)
Some background, in case it will make any difference:
• The story is set a few decades in the future, so I can bend a few inconvenient things if they get in the way, but school and school culture are basically the same as today. There is some anti-homosexual bias present in general culture, though not nearly as strongly as today; it's stronger in schools (as kids will take any excuse to ostracise someone).
• The school is an academy for rich corporate kids with powerful parents, so almost everyone is assumed to be well-off enough to afford the 'luxuries' of all the prom trappings. A few really gifted scholarship students aren't, though.
• The main character (Rebecca) has been something of an outcast throughout her school career, of the leaning-on-the-wall-and-sneering-at-ever
• Rebecca is likely to be attending prom with one of the football team (Dane), who's one of the "in crowd" but has had a thing for Rebecca for a few years and chose to ask her in an act of rebellion, rather than the "in crowd" girl he was expected to ask.
• They will likely be accompanied by her two best friends, Scott (date as-yet unknown, but probably not a fellow student) and Annie (date likely to be a smoking-hot female non-student; Annie has not yet come out to the school as a lesbian), and by Dane's best friend Garth, the football team quarterback - who is likely to be taking another male student (which will provoke plenty of drama as Garth has also not come out as gay before now).
(Sorry about all the names, but it gets impossible to keep the people straight when you're just saying "the main character's date's best friend"... :))
So! Help much appreciated - any broad picture or fine details will be more than I've got now. :)