Saturday, February 8, formal wear was abounding all over Dallas. There were some folks who were black-tie party hopping, with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League as the evening’s goal.
For instance, Carolyn Tillery, who has just stepped aside from her Beverly Drive editor’s duties, had to stop by Brook Hollow for John Clutts’ black tie birthday party hosted by Dr. Sami Arslanlar. No doubt she was so glad she did. The place was decked out in black and white with red background lighting in the main dining room. About 120 settled back for dinner including Carolyn and Tav Lupton, Ruth Buzzi and husband Ken Perkins, Jill and Tracy Rowlett (he’s lost about 45 lbs.), Tiffany and Paul Divis, Jean Lattimore, Barbara Brice, Yvonne Crum, Laree Hulshoff and Ben Fischer, Gregory Dunbar and Terry Van Willson. B-day boy John was sporting a dashing black cape. It was a birthday gift from philanthropist Dee Wyly. Seem the cape had last been worn by Dee’s late husband Charles, who wore it to a White House state dinner back in the ‘70s.
Ah, but we digress.
While the DSOL debs rehearsed their Texas-dip bows, checked their cellphones, chilled and stay out of sight, the lower level of the Meyerson was abashed with men in tuxedos and tails and women in glorious colors and jewels. Of course, you want deets, so here goes: Amber Armstrong in shimmering gold Badgley Mischka, Caroline Hall and Emily Johnson in red BCBGeneration, Helen Butler in blue glittering Naeem Kahn, Betty Osborne with Prada shoes and Judith Leiber purse and Katy Bock in Alexander McQueen gown with VBH purse and jewelry from Bachendorf’s (duh!).
As the crowd grew, the champagne flowed and cellphones recorded groups of friends. Why, one quartet of pretty young things asked Myrna Schlegel if she would snap their photo with one of their cellphones. Being the mother of three girls, Myrna immediately accommodated.
When one of the Honor Guard was asked why he had signed up for the assignment of escorting the deb, he didn’t hesitate — “An open bar and college girls? Oh, yeah!” Well, it was a dumb question when you think of it.
Just before the Meyerson chimes called everyone upstairs to the McDermott Concert Hall, the Honor Guards and deb dads in their white tie and tails accessorized by dashing purple sashes were seen heading up the stairway. They were following their marching orders. After all, Production General Jan Strimple had a schedule to keep and the gents weren’t going to deny her.
Guests found their seats as the James French photography team took their place to record every moment. Then it was time for the presentation of DSOL President Ginger Sager and Ball Chair Dixey Arterburn, who was doing double duty. In addition to heading up the deb season of Mardi Gras-theme parties to raise funds for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Dixey was a mother of one of the debs, Libby Arterburn. She introduced the Honorary C-Chairs Gene and Jerry Jones, who briefly stood. Then she thanked her team of co-chairs Sharon Ballew, Cynthia Beaird, Marena Gault and Sharon Popham.
Master of ceremonies Stan Gardner then introduced the officers of the Assembly and the Honor Guard.
Just before Lauren Allday started off the presentation at the head of the stairs on stage, Stan gently suggested that decorum and respect would be appreciated. That was a mighty test for some of the young guests. Throughout the 38 presentations, an occasional surge of whooping and hollering resounded through the hall. But calm appreciation was the mood of the night.
Well, that is until one of the last debs was presented and a young gent in the back hollered, “You look so goddamn good!” Thanks to the Meyerson’s fabulous acoustics, hundreds heard his words. But by that time, his remarks were greeted with a smile. After all, watching 38 debs execute that killer bow was like watching tryouts for the Olympic figure-skating team. Parents, siblings and friends were relieved that one and all of the debs bowed perfectly and the escorts did their job.
Okay, so one of the cute escorts got a little confused on which direction to leave the stage, as he headed with deb on his arm backstage. Luckily, the deb and Stan redirected him to the stairs leading to the floor. Even then he needed just a little assistance following the aisle to the back of the hall. But don’t go thinking it was an embarrassing moment. Nope! If anything, everyone in the room was appreciative of the break in the perfection and related to the young man’s situation.
After Murphy VandeMotter and Tommy Schleier exited the stage, the entire group of debs and escorts were presented on stage to the guests. On the side of the stage, the deb fathers, who had been seated along the Terrace, quietly exited for their next test — the opening waltz with their daughters in the lobby. The moms, who had been seated along the center aisle, also paraded out, followed by the guests.
In the lobby, the white dance floor that earlier had a sign saying, “Don’t walk on the dance floor,” was surrounded by the parents. Guests were everywhere. Some found a perfect viewing spot on the balcony overlooking the band and dance floor.
As the minutes ticked by, Dixey looked at the stairs leading to the hall. She was worried— “Where were the debs?” She needn’t worry. Suddenly the debs in their flowing white gowns and their escorts paraded down the stairs and directly to the dance floor. It was just at the edge of the dance floor where the escorts released the hands of their debs, who spotted their families and rushed to them.
On one side of the floor Charlotte and Shy Anderson greeted daughter Haley. Nearby Vickie and George Bayoud were joined by deb daughter Meredith and son Griffin. Jordan Jones spotted her parents, Karen and Stephen Jones, as well as grandmother Gene Jones. Ex’s Lawrence Bock and Holly Deason posed for photos with their daughter Fallon. When Sarah Branch stepped on the dance floor, all fingers were pointing her out. But the only one she saw was that of her dad Dan Branch.
As the debs danced with their dads, Dixey smiled. Everything was fine, just fine.