On Friday night, a crowd with no shortage of eyeliner filed past a nearby yarn store and into the Brooklyn Monarch, a concert hall in East Williamsburg, for “Emo Prom.”
Slow dances were few and far between. Instead, about 800 revelers thrashed around to music from bands like My Chemical Romance and Good Charlotte. Many wore fingerless gloves and chokers made of safety pins; an attendee dressed as Billie Joe Armstrong, the lead singer of Green Day, shouted along with the chorus of “All the Small Things” by Blink-182.
The crowd included former prom queens and those who had skipped their high school proms. “I wasn’t really, like, in with my high school crowd,” said Jet Berelson, an organizer of the event and one of its D.J.s. Around 1 a.m., Mr. Berelson took the stage to crown an emo prom king and queen (winners were chosen by applause).
Many of the promgoers said that emo was mounting a comeback. In the edited interviews below, several paused their head-banging to give examples of recent emo moments in pop culture and reflect on their own high school proms.
Congratulations on being crowned prom king. How do you feel? It’s very validating. I do appreciate external validation a lot.
What was your high school prom like? I wore a suit, and my date asked me with a “Breaking Bad”-themed promposal.
What’s the point of prom? It’s a nice way to spend time with your loved ones. This is sort of arbitrary, like, an emo prom on a random April day. But I think it’s nice to see people in the community coming together to enjoy music.
What is the most emo thing to happen in pop culture lately? I just heard a rumor that Timothée Chalamet and Kylie Jenner are dating. Maybe it’s not emo, but it is embarrassing for both of them.
Azeem Alexander, 24
What was your high school prom like? It wasn’t as cool as this. This is way more lively.
What’s the point of prom? It reminds us of our youth. We should always stay in touch with that.
What is the most emo thing to happen in pop culture lately? Coming from a guy’s perspective, I feel like black nail polish and eyeliner is starting to become more mainstream.
Sky Nida, 21
Where did this outfit come from? A bunch of us combined closets tonight to make outfits. I’m wearing a sheer top, a bikini top that I made, a tie and a rosary and pearls. I really like the fallen-angel type of aesthetic.
What was your high school prom like? I would always overdress for school dances. When you’re a teenager, you don’t go to many things where you get to dress up. Weird subculture nights like this are so important to me now because you get to go for it.
What is the most emo thing to happen in pop culture lately? Emo and goth style have been really adapted into the mainstream. They give so much more space for people to be weird. I love incorporating horror into fashion.
Evan Wovsaniker, 31
What was your high school prom like? Kind of awkward.
What’s the point of prom? It’s nice to gather around people you know, or would like to know. This is certainly not your average prom.
What is the most emo thing to happen in pop culture lately? The Wednesday Addams TV show, where there’s the whole prom scene with the black outfit. I saw someone dressed like that tonight.
What was your high school prom like? I wasn’t one of the popular kids, so I didn’t care about prom. I didn’t go.
What’s the point of prom? I think it’s more ritualistic. For me it makes no sense. I guess it’s the first step to marriage or whatnot, like, we want to be perceived as a princess or a prince.
What is the most emo thing to happen in pop culture lately? The fashion is coming back. For people like me who are now in our 30s, when the emo scene started, we couldn’t afford this stuff. Now we can.
What was your high school prom like? I honestly think I should have won prom queen. I had a crown and everything.
What’s the point of prom? I think it’s just a fun way to end high school and a fun way for everyone to start partying before they start partying as adults.
What is the most emo thing to happen in pop culture lately? My Chemical Romance getting back together.
Marquis Brown, 24
Custodial maintenance worker
What was your high school prom like? I didn’t go. I didn’t have anyone, so I blew it off.
What’s the point of prom? I don’t know!
What is the most emo thing to happen in pop culture lately? The piercings and everything, the tattoos.
What was your high school prom like? I was not who I wanted to be when I was in high school. Now I’m in a much better place in my life. I convinced all my friends to come out with me tonight because I wanted to live out my high school prom and emo fantasies all at the same time.
What’s the point of prom? It celebrates the ending of something, but also the beginning of something.
What is the most emo thing to happen in pop culture lately? I think Yungblud is revamping what emo music is. He wears skirts, he wears fishnets, he wears makeup. He is himself, unapologetically, and I think that’s everything that emo stands for.
What was your high school prom like? I went a couple times. I actually won prom queen.
Do you hope you win prom queen again tonight? I didn’t know they had that!
What’s the point of prom? Even though we’re getting older, it’s good to relive those times. They were honestly the best.
Nix Aronowitz, 18
High school student
Where did this outfit come from? I’m just outside of my emo phase right now, so I was trying to pull together everything I have left over. This skirt is from an old schoolgirl costume I had from when I did a play in, like, middle school.
What’s the point of prom? To celebrate the end of the year. But I think the idea of prom king and queen is super weird. Not only gendered but just kind of like, strange.
What is the most emo thing to happen in pop culture lately? There’s been a lot of people, like, trying to be emo.