I have a question for you: Have you ever been to a Debutante Ball or made your debut?
Chances are that if you live in rural Australia the answer to either question would be yes. Or if you’re over a certain age then the answer might be yes.
We have been in Tumbarumba for 30 years and for many of those years, in October, the local Catholic School has held a Debutante Ball as their major fundraiser.
Over the years I have said it was an anachronism, which if I’m honest (and I always try to be honest), I have never really been a huge fan of, but it’s always a fun evening.
And then we were asked to be the guests of honour at a ball!
Deb Ball 2021
This year due to Covid, the annual Ball was on again/off again and finally it was settled to hold it on Saturday December 4. A huge amount of work goes into these events from many volunteer helpers, dance choreographers, set designs, setup and pack-up. It was a very successful night.
At each ball, a special guest of honour is invited for the debs to be presented to and this year my husband, the Mathematician, was given this honour, and by default as his wife, I was also very special. He was a teacher at the high school for many years before retiring and very involved in many community groups. He knew all the debs, and their partners, having taught them or members of their family over the years. It was a big thing to be asked!
We were honoured to be invited for this role and felt a bit embarrassed at the attention but it was a lovely night. Everyone looked beautiful and the parents were so proud of their offspring.
We were introduced to the crowd with a potted history of our life and family, as we walked down the red carpet to take up our place at the front of the hall. We took up our places with other special guests, the school Principal and President of the Parents association.
The debs were introduced to us by a Maid of Honour and my husband knocked elbows with the young men, (in lieu of a handshake), the girls curtsied to me and I put a blue sash on them.
Their dresses were described by the MC, as well as information on each of them, their family, aspirations and goals for when they finished school.
And yes, Debutantes still wear long white gloves.
They then danced some set dances in front of the crowd of friends and family before the band struck up and no-one could hear or talk to each other. Many moved onto the dance floor for more contemporary dances for the rest of the night!
What is a Debutante Ball?
In Australia, débutante balls (or colloquially “deb balls”) are usually organised by high schools, church groups or service clubs, such as Lions or Rotary. The girls who take part are in either Year 10, 11 or 12 at high school (i.e. aged between 15 and 18). The event is often used as a fund-raiser for local charities.
The Australian debutante wears a white or pale-coloured gown similar to a wedding dress. However, the dress does not come with a train on the skirt, and the debutante does not wear a veil. The boy wears black tie or another formal dress suit.
It is customary for the female to ask a male to the débutante ball, with males not being able to “do the deb” unless they are asked, similar to a Sadie Hawkins Dance. The débutantes and their partners must learn how to ballroom dance. Débutante balls are almost always held in a reception centre, school hall, the function room of a sporting or other community organisation venue e.g. RSL club, or ballroom. Usually they are held late in the year and consist of dinner, dancing, and speeches. Source
My daughters remember me not being too interested in them making their debut so none of them ever did. It’s funny that my first date with the Mathematician was to a friend’s deb ball back in 1977!
What to wear?
I decided early on to wear my orange Mother of the Bride dress from my youngest daughter’s wedding, which was held in Fiji a few years ago.
The dress is knee-length, softly pleated and falls beautifully, it’s also bright, bold and elegant so I felt comfortable, despite most others wearing more muted colours! At least you wouldn’t miss me 🙂
I did ask my daughters for advice on shoes – I wore the strappy coloured shoes with the dress originally but wondered if the more classic shoes would be better suited and they agreed with me. It’s amazing how we can be in touch instantly when we need advice!
The Mathematician wore his Wedding Suit and looked very dapper!
On the way to the ball I snapped this cheesy selfie just for some fun!
I think we scrubbed up OK don’t you?
Another interesting experience to add to the rich tapestry of our lives!
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A tragic accident at age 17, resulting in a Bravery Award from the Queen, didn’t deter Debbie from travelling the world. A young retiree, after being made redundant from her 22 year career managing education programs in a men’s correctional centre, she now loves reading, blogging, riding her ebike and a good cup of tea! Also known as Granny Debs to her 4 grandchildren.
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