Rites of spring
An otherwise outdated ceremony for girls brings life to lost traditions
Published: May 4, 2011
Four debutantes preceded her. Two will follow. But this is Lauren Roberts' time.
She attended last year's ball, watching the pageantry from the audience. It was so magical, so enchanting, that she applied to be one of those taking the long walk to the stage this year. She went through all the rigors — the application process, the etiquette lessons, the cultural tours, the self-improvement sessions — with six other girls just as eager to be part of this rarified world.
"I didn't know any of the girls before, but we were all really excited to be there, and all of us looking beautiful and growing closer together," the 17-year-old says. "We formed a bond for everything we accomplished."
Now, down those marble stairs she goes. Down to the edge of the room, where the spotlight pours onto her. Down the long dance floor to the stage. And down to the floor for the elegant curtsy, the exclamation point on all her efforts, the small but significant summation of the night and all that it means. "You get to stand up there while they read off all your accomplishments, and it made me feel really good to be recognized like that," Roberts says. Of all the pageantry here — the formal etiquette, the beautiful gowns, the choreographed waltz, the precise movements — her favorite part is just being honored for her everyday accomplishments — those for a single, magnificent night, and those for a life still ahead.
Clark watches from the shadows at the spectacle she's pulled off. And she beams.
"The hope is that we will make a positive impact on the city of Detroit and remind people that everything in Detroit is not bleak; that we do have shining jewels, these talented young ladies and men who will make a difference in society," Clark says.
Tomorrow the debutantes and escorts go back to normal life. But tonight, as they waltz beneath the hanging chandeliers of a magnificent old ballroom, they are celebrated for what they've done with those normal lives. Tonight they are stars.
"I kind of felt like it was my moment," Roberts says. "I felt beautiful."
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