Let's cram hundreds of teenagers from high schools all across Central Minnesota into the River's Edge Convention Center and let them sweat on each other to pop music. What could possibly go wrong?

This week my Facebook memories reminded me of something my friends and I went to all the time, and that was Night Storm parties at the River's Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud. The event itself was basically an "all school dance" where high school kids from around Central Minnesota could go, dance, and meet new people in the same age bracket.

Here is a tweet that sums it up pretty well:

In the summer of 2011, my friend group's entire social schedule revolved around when these parties were happening, what we were wearing, who was bringing a yearbook as our form of ID, and whose mom was going to drive us all the way to Downtown St. Cloud from Long Prairie.

And bless those moms for tolerating a car full of teen girls spending a whole hour's long drive coming up with different hand signals we could give to sneakily get away from unwanted boys dancing with us. Those moms deserved a medal of honor. Or at least a bottle of wine.

Fortunately, not much of an online trace is left of this era in teen entertainment. The only things I could find online are blurry bathroom selfies, several almost-unreadable Tweets, and a Night Storm Party Twitter account that hasn't been updated since 2015.

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The only pictures of my own friend group attending one of these parties are from outside of the River's Edge Convention Center. One of the driving moms took our group photo, and then one of us posted it on Facebook, and we get the memory of it every year. (Note the trends of the era: cuffed denim shorts, basic Old Navy Flip Flops, and shades of melon.)

Abbey Minke
Abbey Minke

Sometimes these events feel like a fever dream. Did we really let our lives revolve around spending a weeknight (yes, weeknight) dancing to "Roll Up" by Wiz Khalifa with a bunch of kids we didn't know?  Photographic evidence would suggest it, but I still have my doubts. I guess we all have those things we look back on that makes us cringe a little.

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