A Night Best Spent at the Tables


Angela Yang

Students at the homecoming dance gather around the Blackjack table

High school dances have never quite been my vision of an ideal evening, but this year’s Diamond Bar High School Homecoming was enlivened by the choice of venue. The Richard Nixon Presidential Library enchanted me with its scenic historical ambiance as I strolled through halls of presidential portraits.

 That said, a few practical improvements could definitely have enhanced my night.

Walking past the doors first entailed shuffling through security check lines that stretched far around the side of the building, giving me the impression we were waiting to board a ride at Disneyland. The wait itself wouldn’t have given me any reason to complain—potential hazards should understandably be vetted before guests entered the venue—but I was not prepared for my date and me to be separated for the first half hour as the males-only line moved quickly ahead.

Having two lines should theoretically have sped things up, but next year both should instead be open for free choice. I don’t see the point in separating by sex when after passing security, boys just joined the throng of other guys waiting outside the entrance for their dates to make it through.

The dance floor was sweltering, the air stifling as soon as we walked in, and I found myself witnessing an amusing spectacle of boisterous grinding action occurring underneath elegant chandeliers and sophisticated drapery.

Not wanting to participate in the kind of dancing that characterizes Homecoming, I entered that room with snacks—and one slow dance that discouragingly few pairs participated in— in mind. Cookies, brownies, chocolate-covered strawberries and the like were appetizing, but the selection was limited and I would have preferred the fare to be balanced by a few saltier options as well.

Outside, groups of people huddled around the blackjack tables overlooking a sea of beautifully set, black cloth-covered tables in the garden. My date and I decided to join a game, during which he taught me how to play the card game for the first time.

 I found it a little peculiar to see students gambling at a high school function—albeit only with plastic chips—but it did integrate nicely into the Monte Carlo theme of the dance. Despite being the first to lose everything, I found the blackjack tables to be a definite highlight of my night.

Moving on to follow the sound of students belting out old Justin Bieber lyrics, we found ourselves looking over clusters of spectators cheering on hearty karaoke performances by a group singing into the microphone up in front. It felt like we entered an atmosphere so warm and pure you couldn’t help but smile.

The only noticeable mishap of the evening was when one of the photo booths malfunctioned, costing those in line unaware of the technical issue at least half an hour of confusion and wasted time. Though the booths were fun and mostly functional, I wasn’t particularly impressed with the plain black backgrounds. I would, however, have loved for last year’s flipbooks to make a return.

The remainder of my night was spent enjoying the views at one of the outside tables or beside the fountain, where it was easy to find a quiet and more private location to simply spend time with my date.

I left the dance satisfied with a night of memories, well worth this year’s price tag of $65 or $70 a ticket. But regardless of the specifics of venue and activities, any Homecoming can offer only as good of a time as you make of it with the people you’re with.