Maybe it was the glorious weather. Or, perhaps it was that golden moon hovering over the Meyerson. But the annual Dallas Symphony Orchestra League’s Deb Ball seemed to relax past stringent rules on Saturday, February 7.
Before the first wave of guests gathered in the Meyerson’s lower lobby, the 40 debs in magnificent white ballgowns with long gloves were posing with their escorts in white tie and tail for a group photo on the steps leading to the McDermott Concert Hall. After the prim and proper photo was taken, the group broke up with some posing for cellphone photos and others just relaxing. Not to sound way too corny, but the cluster of girls in white dresses “chilling” on the staircase looked positively dreamy. This collection of gowns was just slightly spectacular. But the signal was given and the debs disappeared backstage following the tradition that the debs and their dresses are formally presented to “the world” on stage and not before.
Ah, but protocol doesn’t always fit with a girl’s plans. As guests started arriving, the Meyerson’s downstairs lobby filled with men in tuxedos and tails and ladies of all ages in fabulous gowns. Some of the designer frocks were shimmering; some were jewel-colored. And, of course, the jewelry was remarkable. In the tapestry of colors, there was one that stood out to vet observers. It was a pretty young thing in a white ballgown with opera gloves. It was a deb. Glory be. To the newcomer, it was no biggie. But for the very proper types, it was right up there with a bride greeting guests at the church door before the wedding.
One vet raised her manicured eyebrow and summed it up, “Naughty, naughty.”
Still the deb stayed drinking water and having a male friend provide tidbits for munching. Mustn’t soil those white gloves, don’t you know.
But she was the only white swan seen in the cocktail reception. Another one scampered to a crowd on friends/family and then rushed back up the marble steps to be with the sisterhood.
Another eyecatcher was the young lady in the multi-colored evening gown who proved that even in formal attire one can walk across the lobby chewing an appetizer with mouth wide open.
Others in the crowd were Assembly President Claire McCormick in a gown by Sherri Hill and President-Elect Sarah Frazee in a dress from Tootsie’s; evening emcee Stan Gardner with his wife Sara Lee Gardner in a gold Chris Roth gown with matching wrap; mother-of-a-deb Mary Mitchell in a shimmering Giovanni with white shawl; deb little sis, 7-year-old Emma Allen spending time with Event Chair Venise Stuart in a red, hot Patti Flowers with added sparkles from Eiseman’s; Aileen Pratt in a “vintage” Carolyne Roehm and husband Jack Pratt in Armani, of course; and former DSOL deb Margaux Anbouba in a black gown by Milly with a Christian Dior purse, Louboutin shoes and her mother’s Syrian jewelry.
As the Meyerson chimes alerted the guests to move upstairs for the presentation, some were a little surprised at the attendants who advised them that beverages were verboten in the hall.
Stan welcomed the tiers of guests and gently suggested that decorum should be kept in mind. Translation: No shouting, hollering, stomping, air horns, etc. This message seemed to be directed to some of the younger members of the crowd, who seemed to be visiting the Meyerson for the first time. The message got across to the majority. However, there were momentary breaks with cheers from deb buddies. One went on a little too long and was answered with sh-sh-es from parent-age types.
Another issue that developed was the problem of guests leaving the hall during the presentation. In some cases, when a deb and escort left the hall, some of their friends exited, too, to congratulate the twosome on a successful debut. The friends didn’t take it kindly when attendants told them there was no re-admittance. After a huffy complaint or two by returning guests, the staffers decided that it wasn’t worth a disturbance to abide by the rule and just let the returnees back in. Guess along with a program, organizers need to include rules for attending presentations.
As for the presentation itself, it went off without a hitch. Okay, there was that one time when the deb appeared high atop the stage and heard the wrong song being played. The music stopped and the right tune was played. Luckily, the deb didn’t flutter an eyelash and continued on.
DSOL President Dixie Marshall and Venise thanked all involved in the Dallas Symphony Orchestra fundraiser including Cynthia Beaird, Sharon Ballew, Marena Gault and Sharon Popham. Honorary Co-Chairs Cynthia and Brice Beaird were presented. Then Stan returned to the podium to introduce the Assembly officers and Honor Guard officer. To the left side of the stage, three rows remained empty, while the rest of the seats were filled. Eventually those empty places would be filled by the presenting fathers, uncles and grandfathers.
While all 40 swans (Arianna Allen, Ellie Allums, Kathryn Anderson, Emily Bearden, Ellen Beecherl, Madeline Beecherl, Sarah Bruyere, Anne Marie Bullington, Sissi Buss, Sarah Carlsen, Courtney Chavez, Ellen Crowe, Carolyn Cunningham, Mary Cole Daulton, Sydney Dunbar, Alex Ferrer, Brownlee Fielder, Caroline Frattaroli, Margaret Hardage, Gracie Hayhurst, Brookie Hewes, Lexie Hood, Camille Humphrey, Arielle Iola, Sarah Kline, Courtney Klingaman, Coco Kubicki, Olivia Lewis, Alexis Madormo, Meghan Mitchell, Abbey Mock, Lauren Newman, Brooke Oliver, Brittany Perry, Caroline Reece, Megan Reynolds, Mason Strickland, Tiffany Tubb, Hayley Waring and Sydney Wilkins) pulled off the step-down from the entrance stage to the main stage where they executed perfect Texas dips and then from the stage down to the hall’s floor, they weren’t off the hook yet. It was those tricky steps leading up from the hall to the hallway that proved a surprise challenge. Those dang, gorgeous expensive gowns that looked like glorious puffs of meringue didn’t mix with the steps. Some of the debs with bouquets in one hand and Honor Guard in the other discovered themselves in the dimly lit aisle stepping on the hems. Realizing the next step would probably take them down, they dropped the fellow, grabbed a hunk of the skirt and managed to climb the stairs.
After the last deb was presented, she and her escort swiftly moved to the back of the stage for the presentation of all 80 debs and escorts on stage.
The next step in the evening was the first dance that was to take place in the Meyerson lobby on the dance floor between the debs and the senior men in their lives. While families and friends surrounded the dance floor and many of the younger crowd found spots along the balcony overhead, a pathway was cleared for the debs to make their way from the hall to the dance floor. Soon, a parade of debs and Honor Guard members were seen parading along the path. At the edge of the dance floor, the escorts peeled off and the debs sought their families to hugs, smiles and congratulations as photographers hustled to get photos. When all were reunited, the first dance of the night took place on a very crowded dance floor with moms smiling from the sidelines.
Following the dance, guests settled down to dinner and more partying. The next morning the deb families would gather one last time for the Tears and Cheers brunch at the Fairmont’s Pyramid Room before heading back to the real life of jobs and schools. Those magnificent white gowns would go into storage.
For more photos of all the debs and many friends and families, check the MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.