Celebrations and parties do not have to be just for birthdays, weddings, holidays, and corporate events. Some cities and social networks have their own traditions that can be very meaningful to the people who take part in them. I am taking this opportunity to share a recent personal experience of being a debutante reflecting on the memories made and traditions kept.
In Fort Worth, there are two social clubs that date back to the early 1900s. One is a young mens club, Steeplechase, and the other a women’s club, Assembly. Every year in the fall both clubs present young women to society. If your mother, grandmother, or aunt is not in Assembly, then girls can be sponsored by their fathers or a close friend in Steeplechase. Debutantes are presented at the annual ball, one weekend apart.
As my mother is a member and Secretary of Assembly and both my grandmother and great grandmother served as President, this is where I made my debut. It was held at Ridglea Country Club at 8:30 on November 7, 2009. The presentation started at 9:00, where each of the 12 Assembly debutante’s made their bow (nose to the ground) to the president. The James Davis orchestra played a song of our choice as we promenaded to the President, Vice-President, and Secretary of Assembly. A waltz with our fathers signified the end of the presentation, where drinks, food, music, and dancing followed.
The presentation symbolizes the old traditions of introducing your daughter to society, or men. The idea is not to force your daughter to marry, but it allows the daughter to begin dating officially. Nowadays, these balls tend to have the same overall focus. Each debutante’s family throws a party during the school breaks following the presentation. In order to have a larger party with more guests, families throw a party together. The debutantes attend these parties all year round, with different dates to each party. The “party service” determines compatibility between young men and women based on their age, schooling, and friends in common. Although awkward at times, I have become better friends with many more guys in Fort Worth from other schools that were just acquaintances.
Debutantes presented at both clubs attend each ball. Debutantes are differentiated by their color of dress. For example, Assembly debutantes wear a white gown to Assembly while Steeplechase debutantes wear a colored gown to the same ball. While I attended Steeplechase, I wore a colored gown while the Steeplechase girls wore their white gowns. Since the whole process revolves so much around tradition, I decided to wear the colored gown that both my mother and grandmother wore to Steeplechase. The lace on the dress and the dress itself were falling apart, so I had an exact replica made in order to honor them. I have grown up looking at pictures of them in that dress, hoping one day to make my debut and share that bond with them.
This experience is memorable to me because my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great grandmother all made their debut in Assembly, and have all been president or held office. The traditions may be old fashioned but they bring families closer together. I will always remember this year and what it meant to both me and my family. With Christmas break soon approaching, I cannot help but get excited for all of the parties to come. I hope that one day, my daughter will choose to make her debut as well and share these same memories and traditions.