A date for prom night

By Staci Matlock
Posted 5/31/18

It takes a measure of courage to ask the girl you like to the high school prom.Nicholas Santistevan has courage in spades. But the girl, the one he's liked since …

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A date for prom night


It takes a measure of courage to ask the girl you like to the high school prom.

Nicholas Santistevan has courage in spades. But the girl, the one he's liked since sixth grade, couldn't go.

Nicholas, 15, was more than a little bummed out about it. This would be the ninth-grader's first prom, after all. His high school, Vista Grande, was hosting the special night May 12 at the fanciest hotel in Taos, El Monte Sagrado, complete with red carpet.

His mom, Tamara Casias saw how sad Nicholas was not to take someone to the dance. She offered to go with him. He accepted.

"I took my mom to prom instead," Nicholas said proudly.

It would be her first prom, too. She was in high school and pregnant with her first son during her own prom. She didn't go.

And so it was on the special night in May, mom and son, dressed in matching deep purple shirts, he in a black suit and she with a black skirt, went to their first prom. "I was nervous," Casias said with a laugh. "I hadn't worn a skirt for, like, 20 years."

His mom said it was customary for the guy to take his date to dinner. So Nicholas treated his mom to chicken tacos at Guadalajara Grill.

Next it was on to El Monte, where they walked the red carpet, past cutout silouhettes of paparazzi taped to the walls and dozens of balloons, a night when students were the stars. They were handed glow-in-the-dark bracelets to put on. The place was packed and a DJ was spinning the tunes.

"He right away took me to the dance floor, spun me away and back," Casias said of her son. "I had to just hang on."

Nicholas was soon burning up the dance floor with other friends of his, too, who temporarily left their dance-phobic dates on the sidelines to shimmy with him. "I was dancing awesome," said the teenager.

Casias said a teacher came over to her later and said Nicholas, with his energy and his complete lack of fear to take to the dance floor, had changed the whole tone of the night. Soon others joined him, abandoning the self-consciousness that keeps many from moving to a beat, at least in public.

Nicholas, who has Down syndrome, began to dance before he could walk. "He didn't really start walking until he was three and a half," his mom said. "But before then, whenever he would hear music, he would sit up and start moving, popping up and down, dancing."

As he grew older and more mobile, Nicholas spent hours watching Youtube dance videos, learning different styles. He'll dance for two hours in the living room, Casias said. "He was a three-year fan of Gangnam Style," his mom said. That dance won him first place a few months ago at the Vista Grande talent show.

Sometimes his mom would dance in the living room with him, especially if the song had a cumbia beat.

By 10:30 p.m. on prom night, after two and a half hours of almost nonstop dancing, Nicholas and his mom were the only two still moving to the beat at El Monte.

He won a trophy for best dancer that night.

"It was fun," Nicholas said.

Next year, he plans again to ask the girl he likes so much to prom.

But if she can't go, who knows? Maybe he'll ask his mom.


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