High-school proms are such an if-I-knew-then-what-I-know-now situation. In real time, at seventeen, you stress out over being asked or asking; then you shop for days, then buy the gown and shoes or rent the tux, have your hair cut, hate your haircut, then go. The night unfolds too quickly in a haze of Fender Stratocasters, seafood Newburg, controlled substances, and pixie dust. And then, until the end of time, you look back awash in shame and regret and knowing how much better it would be if you could just have one more chance.
Jennifer "Rocky" Rockwell wants to give you one more chance.
The Oakland native dreamed up Prom Nite, set for Saturday, June 21, at Albany's Ivy Room, where folk-pop cult-favorite lounge crooner Harvey Sid Fisher and a host of DJs spinning everything from '50s cruising tunes to haircut-band hits to hip-hop will rock a dressed-up 21-and-over crowd amid pearlescent and gold decor, as phony chaperones patrol the place. But, see, unlike at actual proms, at a mock prom the music is certified cool -- even the uncool tunes, because the whole point of a mock prom, of a mock anything, is that it's ironic.
"I'm a theme-party enthusiast," says Rockwell, who organized a mock danceathon at the Ivy Room last year as a fund-raiser for youth programs at the Oakland Public Library, where she works. "It's neat to create a phenomenon, to create something that's more interactive than just standing there listening to a band. And a mock prom is a neat way for girls to dress up." The idea of a mock prom sprang largely from Rockwell's own regrets. As a senior at Skyline High, she recalls wistfully, "I had a midnight curfew on prom night because I'd been sneaking out of the house a lot that semester." She missed out on those after-hours high-jinks, but this time around she's the one making the rules. She selected the evening's theme: "Twinkle in Your Eye Reflected Off a Rainbow Bubble for One Moment." ("Celestial Forest Under the Sea" was a close second choice.) She bought a dress. And she picked the lineup.
Local favorite DJs Ivar, Garrett, and Sam Flax will warm the crowd up for silver-haired Hollywood-based headliner Fisher, whose underground hit Astrology Songs, released in 1995 on San Francisco's Amarillo Records, features a song for each sign of the zodiac (sample lyrics: "Talkin' 'bout the Taurus/Talkin' 'bout the Bully Bull Bull") A veteran underwear model, nursing-home singer, Tin Pan Alley songwriter, South X Southwest icon, and soap-opera actor, Fisher will perform his zodiac cycle at the prom with members of Harold Ray Live in Concert and three backup singers. "When I saw him play the Odeon recently, it was the funnest show with the catchiest hooks I've ever heard," Rockwell says.
"Like the danceathon," she says, "Prom Nite is an attempt to resurrect fun, hokey traditions amongst local hipsters. I like to witness how, by pretending, scenesters are actually participating in a way that becomes real. Prom Nite encourages dating amongst a demographic that doesn't go on "dates.'" Speaking of which, Rockwell is looking for one. She'll go solo if she has to, but if her phone rings -- well, as Erasure sang at many a late-'80s prom, "Oh, L'Amour." Singles $7; couples $10. The Ivy Room, 858 San Pablo Ave., Albany. 510-524-9220.
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