Do you know what a Debutante Ball is?
Well, This invitation came in the mail for my son Patrick in early November.
It was an invitation to the pre-gala dinner and dance, which is an evening where the debutantes and their escorts rehearse the details of the ball and learn how to dance the waltz.
2011 Debutante Brielle Kuhn and escort Patrick Harris at the Pre Gala Dinner & Dance.
Patrick was an escort for the recent 2011 Sacramento Debutante Ball held on December 22, 2011 at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento, California. Since then, so many people have asked me about this lovely evening that I thought I’d share a few details here. It turns out that a great many people aren’t aware that the tradition of debutante balls continues today in most major cities. I certainly didn’t realize it.
The 2011 Sacramento Debutantes (24)
Caroline Calkin, Sarah McCarthy Cheever, Taylor Alexis Corey, Brooke Anne Coyle, Elizabeth David Eggert, Rachel Lynn Elliot, Amelia Paras Evrigenis, Madelyn Mackenzie Geary, Paige Elizabeth Ingram, Brielle Taylor Kuhn, Amanda May Martial, Megan Callie McKinnon, Hannah Rose O'Hearn, Madalyn Rose Peterson, Jessica Korine Poelman, Katherine Elizabeth Samms, Gretchen Burchell Schauer, Elisabeth Hollister Scott, Kendall Jordan Skreden, Madison Taylor Steele, Mikaela Susanne Stirling, Camille Christine Totah, Angelica Elizabeth Whaley and Hannah Kathryn Wilson.
a bit of history
The debutante tradition can be traced back to the English custom of introducing marriage-aged daughters of wealthy British aristocrats to society in order to find them proper suitors. Later in America, this custom evolved. By the 1890s, these kind of private parties given by parents eventually transformed into an entire social season made up of receptions, teas, and parties. And in 1901, the Junior League was created as "a volunteer workforce of debutantes" which introduced the philanthropic aspect into the debutante experience.
a “Coming out” ceremony that benefits others
Today’s modern debutantes are young women from all backgrounds who have completed many hours of volunteer work. In fact, this year’s beneficiary was the Shriners Hospitals for Children which has received more than a quarter-million dollars through the debutante ball. (Sacramento Bee;12/7/2011)
This is what I remember. Each debutante was escorted down a beautifully lit staircase by her date. When they arrived at the top of the second staircase they paused arm-in-arm, and her name was announced to the huge audience below. Next, her escort was introduced. Then her tuxedo-clad date stepped back and away, and the debutante’s father took her arm and the official presentation was made. Then father and daughter walked down the final staircase together, and the escort followed. In the photo above, you can see the fathers lined up and waiting for their daughters to come down to the main floor.
I finally found my way up to the top level where the debutantes were waiting and snapped a few photos. Aren’t those white gowns beautiful?
James Poindexter and Sweetie Scott were at the end of the line.
I noticed lots of friends and former classmates hanging out together and enjoying the show.
Once you entered the ballroom the debutantes and their escorts were easy to find. Sitting at a long banquet table, they were facing the large round tables of family and friends which filled the ballroom. Later, the dance floor proved to be too small for this large, gregarious celebration.
Here’s a picture of Maddie Geary and her date.
Before the dancing started, Patrick and Brielle stopped by our table for a visit. She has a wonderful family and we had a great time with them. We especially loved Grandpa.
Moments later, the announcer called all the fathers and their beautiful daughters to the dance floor and the music started. The song was appropriately titled, “My Girl.”
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a lot of good photos. It was jam-packed around the dance floor and I later heard that there were six hundred people in attendance. I’m not sure if that’s correct, but the crowd FELT huge.
What a sentimental dance for the Dads….and a sweet moment for the Moms.
I heard the dancing continued through the night, and Patrick tells me there was even a conga line that didn’t move because it was so crowded. It really was such a special time for these girls and all for a great cause. I wish I had more photos, but that’s all for now.
Oh, and one more thing… when did my son and his friends grow up into such handsome young men? (Forgive me for this one proud Mama comment)
But as a mother, I find there are so many moments lately when I’m talking with one of my sons and I notice something different. A soft, nuanced change that’s suddenly there, in front of me. A deeper laugh. A provocative opinion. A rougher, unshaven cheek. Or even a sensitive, thoughtful comment.
And I think, “Wow. When did that happen? It seems like just yesterday when …”
Do you feel that way sometimes?
Thanks for stopping by Friends- I hope you enjoyed your visit!