Matric dance costs escalate

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

Over the years, the matric dance has evolved from just a farewell party for matriculants to a red- carpet event.

It has become one of the most exciting and glamorous nights for the bright-eyed aspirant high school graduates. Pupils make sure that their dresses and suits are designed months in advance to avoid any disappointments.

Hair and facial appointments are booked early and nails carefully manicured to ensure that everything is absolutely perfect on the big day.

But all that glamour and glitz comes at a cost.

"My son Sechaba wants a black suit and a full-length leather jacket for his matric dance," said Themba Molefe.

Molefe said he will do all he can to get his son what he wants but will not go beyond what he can afford.

"I won't break an arm and a leg to impress him," he said.

However, Molefe was concerned about the things that the youth get involved in during the ball.

"Our children get too excited and end up experimenting with drugs, alcohol and engage in other immoral activities," he said.

He said he would ensure that his older son takes Sechaba to the function and picks him up afterwards.

Molefe said that parents should be "vigilant and know what their children get up to at the ball".

Zibani Ngubane, the father of Ncamisile, said he had not allowed any of his children to attend a matric dance.

"I am against this matric dance thing. None of my children have attended it," he said.

Ngubane said he had heard about "bad" things that children do at the matric dance.

"Children get drunk at these parties, which they don't do in front of their parents," said Ngubane.

He said parents should choose the activities their children are permitted to engaged in.

His daughter, Ncamisile, a pupil at St Julius High School in Cato Ridge in KwaZulu-Natal, said she shares her father's sentiments.

She said she would not go to the ball, but would instead save the money for her studies next year.

"Farewell functions are okay, but they cost a lot of money," she said.

Another parent, Delisile Mchunu, said: "I will do anything to make my son happy on his special day."

She said she trusted that her son Thabiso, who attends the Esther Payne-Smith Secondary School in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, would behave himself.

"He is old enough to know wrong from right," she said.

However, she said she could not dismiss the thought of the after party, which has nothing to do with the school, and that was what made her scared.

"As a parent you become concerned about the things they do at those parties. It does not matter whether your child is a boy or a girl, you don't want it to happen to them."

According to designers, girls often have difficulty in finding matric dance dresses that are impressive off the shelf.

"Some children make huge and impractical demands about how their dresses should look like," said renowned designer Ephraim Molingoana.

He said some clients want him to copy Hollywood stars.

"I tell them I cannot do that because I am a creator not a copycat," said Molingoana.

He said the most expensive dress he has made for the occasion cost R10000.

On the night of the function, vintage cars, limos and convertibles descend on the red-carpet occasion, ferrying matriculants and their partners.

To make sure that they make a grand entrance to the ball, some even go to the extent of getting celebrities to be their partners on the night.