ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – An Orange County DJ is hosting a virtual prom for high schoolers who are missing out on their dances due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Immanuel Smart has been DJ'ing for 11 years. He said this time of the year is usually busy for him with weddings, proms, and conventions. But he said he started losing gigs in February when the coronavirus stopped the music.
“A lot of the conventions that were in town at the World Center, they canceled and they knew about it. They canceled all the way out to March, April,” Smart said.
Smart, known as DJ Chocolate Rain, said he changed up his business and started hosting virtual dance parties through Zoom.
Through those events, Smart said he got the idea to host a Zoom Prom for high school students who are missing out on the big dance this year.
"I really felt for them that they weren't able to have the full high school experience and it wasn't their fault. I just feel like this will be a great way to have that experience," Smart said.
Smart said he is working with local and national schools for the event. He set up a private, password-protected Zoom session for the dance. He said moderators will act as chaperones throughout the event.
He said he is making it as close to the real experience as possible. Students are encouraged to dress up and their families are invited too.
Participants can run for Prom King and Queen. Students will get to vote for the winners during the dance. They can also make song requests and will get to show off their dance moves.
"If you've ever been to a basketball game and you get put on the jumbotron and you get super excited, it's the same feel with Zoom," Smart said. "Everybody is on here. There's a whole bunch of small screens, but I have the power to put them on the big screen and they get super excited that everybody sees them."
Smart said he knows this isn't the prom high schoolers imagined, but he is hoping it will still be a night to remember.
"I want it to be a good, uplifting event for people to come to," he said.
The Zoom Prom is Saturday, May 9 from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. EST. Tickets are $10. Click here for more information.