It’s senior year, and the essays, tests and presentations are piling up on your to-do list. Your most nerve-racking experience is hitting “submit” for college apps. And now, months before the class has even begun to discuss graduation dresses, you’re spend your weekends getting fitted for dresses at bridal shops.
That’s right: this year, seven Marlborough girls, including myself, will celebrate being eligible for marriage by becoming debutantes through events at the Beverly Hilton hosted by three philanthropic organizations: the mother-daughter National Charity League, the predominantly African-American Los Angeles Links and the church-based Armenian Western Dioceses.
Debutantes are presented to society at a lavish ball where they dance, eat and mingle with family and friends, unless they are locked in a bathroom and miss the festivities à la Amanda Bynes in What a Girl Wants.
Unlike some, my parents never forced me to be a debutante. Instead, they took me to the debutante ball every year to see my friends and cousins smile and curtsy, slowly getting me interested in the idea that someday, I too could dress up in a white dress and be presented to society.
While my debut isn’t until February, I am already turning into a bit of a debutantezilla. I’m on the hunt for the perfect dress, comfortable white heels (which will surely double as my graduation shoes) and a pair of silk white gloves.
I may have a little bit of time until my own formal introduction to society, but the National Charity League’s Courante, which will take place on Nov. 26, and the Los Angeles Links Cotillion, which will take place on Nov. 25, are fast approaching.
Catherine ’12, an NCL debutante, had no trouble finding her dress but is a few steps behind on learning her dance routine. Catherine, who was out of town for both rehearsals, now receives private dance lessons with her father to master the moves before her big debut in front friends and family.
“That’s the fun of it—having a lot of people there to support you,” Catherine said. “I’m really excited that everyone else is excited.”
The same dance is performed in almost all debutante balls. First, the girls and their fathers dance a waltz with a box step; next, the debutante’s official escorts are introduced, and then the girls dance with them as well. First rehearsals include girls walking around in petticoats over their clothes, trying to get a feel for their dance moves while wearing a big dress.
NCL and Links debutantes bring their own escorts, while my organization pairs you with other Armenian boys who have signed up and are relatively close to our height.
Links debutante Kaela ’12 said she is enjoying going to rehearsals with her father.
“He’s more distracting than my escort!” Kaela said. “Plus, I can’t boss my dad around like I can my escort.”
Beyond the dresses and the dances, though, the defining debutante move is the curtsy. Debutantes curtsy once when we are first announced, another time after we walk around the room and back to meet our fathers and a third time when all the debutantes and escorts are out on the dance floor.
“They tell us to practice our curtsies when we brush our teeth every night,” NCL debutante Caitlyn ’12 said. “Though I don’t know if anyone actually does that.”