LEWISTON — Half a century ago, Norm Dube had no interest in his senior prom.

The glitz, the glamour, the drama and romance. Who needs it?

“I guess I was just too dumb,” Dube said Friday night, “to realize the value of the prom.”

Fortunately, there are such things as second chances.

As the hour grew late Friday night, Dube was holding his date tight, embracing her in a dance that had waited five decades.

“I’m making up for something that I didn’t do 50 years ago,” said Dube, now 66 years old and dashing in a tuxedo. “This makes up for all of those years of regretting that I missed my prom, and for feeling like a horse’s butt about it.”

Mistakes of the past were rectified and, according to those who organized the Adult Prom at The Dolard and Priscilla Gendron Franco Center, that’s what it’s all about.

“This,” said Mitch Thomas, executive director of the center, “is a second-chance prom.”

Nearly 100 people turned out for the event. Some were looking to make up for mistakes of the past, some were just there to relive the glory days.

For Anita Dube, it was a little of both. She went to her prom back in the ’60s, she said, but not with the man who would become her husband.

“I wish I’d known Moe back then,” Anita said. “My date for the prom was one of those guys who doesn’t talk a lot. With Moe, I wouldn’t have to worry about that.”

There’s a compliment in there somewhere.

The dance drew a range of people, from teenagers just a few years removed from their proms to plenty of folks well past retirement age.

There were women who missed their proms because they happened to be pregnant during their senior year of high school and there were men who were never invited to the big dance.

“First time at a prom,” said 18-year-old Alex Burns, beaming in his rented tux. “At any kind of dance, actually. I never had anyone to go with and I wasn’t interested in going by myself.”

Burns, of Norway, may have had no luck in high school, but his luck changed when 19-year-old Charley Hilligoss invited him to the Friday night event.

“She sent me a text and said, ‘Do you want to go to the prom with me?'” Burns said. “I said, ‘You better believe it.'”

How popular is adult prom? The Saturday night event sold out so quickly they had to offer it Friday night, as well. The lure of doing it over, apparently, is just too great for some to resist.

At the prompting of event organizers, some dressed in the style of the decade in which they grew up.

Brian Zaldumbide was one of those. With the leather jacket and the hair down below his shoulders, the 47-year-old looked like he’d be right at home in 1975.

“This is actually my dad’s jacket,” he says. “I got it out of the attic just for this.”

Zaldumbide, leaning against the bar and waiting for drinks, said he didn’t go to his prom back in the day.

“I don’t remember why, to tell you the truth,” he said. “It just wasn’t important at the time.”

It seemed pretty important Friday night, though. Zaldumbide, in his hippie-era wig, was there with 36-year-old Aga Matusiak, a Poland native who wore a flowered dress and a wig of her own.

“I’ve never been to an American prom,” she said. “I had to convince him to come along. He’s been a good sport about it.”

Event organizers wanted the night to have an authentic school-gymnasium feel. Glitzy decorations and music spanning generations helped with that, but there were extra touches, too. There was the crowning of a prom king and queen, for instance. There were those playing the parts of teachers, a principal and vice principal, cheerleaders and even a lunch lady.

Dan Kane, with his zippered sweatshirt and ball cap, took on the role of gym teacher and chaperon. A decidedly hard-nosed chaperon, as it turned out, with no tolerance for tomfoolery.

“I won’t have any drinking or smoking,” Kane’s alter ego snarled at the prom-goers as they arrived at the door. “Or, you know… patty fingers.”

As it turned out, drinking was perfectly OK for the adult crowd. In fact, for some, that’s what set it apart from a regular high school prom.

“You see that punch?” Thomas said, indicating a bowl of bright red beverage. “It’s spiked. Deliberately spiked, I mean.”

That worked just fine for Zaldumbide.

“Back in the day, you were always sneaking around, trying to get away with things,” he said, handing a drink to his date and keeping one for himself. “But not tonight.”

Zaldumbine would go on to be crowned prom king.

Jessica Daniels, of South Paris, was pleased with the relaxed liquor rules, as well. The 32-year-old was doing things a bit differently this time around. She took a date to her prom back in high school, she said. But for the adult prom, she skipped that lame tradition and came instead with group of half a dozen lady friends.

“I’m having more fun already,” she said.

The night was expected to continue until 11:30 p.m. before the whole scene is repeated Saturday night with a whole new crowd.

For Burns, the 18-year-old prom first-timer, there was no curfew to worry about, but there were time considerations.

“I hope I can get enough sleep,” he said. “I’ve got an Eagle Scout ceremony early in the morning.”


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