The New Orleans Debutante Tradition

Debutantes are big in Louisiana...especially in New Orleans. It's certainly the French influence...after all, the word debutante comes from the French débuter, which means "to begin." And New Orleans is nothing if not French-influenced (see Cafe du MondeThe Vieux Carre and the best cajun food you can find anywhere on earth).

Post Katrina, though, the debutante community in Louisiana suffered. Today's Times Picayune tells the story of Lynn Lewis, who was royal princess for the Swan's club in 1977, and who followed in a line of friends and family members who had their own Season as part of the Swan's Club in Kenner, LA.  Her two eldest daughters had their own seasons in the late 90s, but her youngest, Candace, was due for her own cotillion in December 2005, just months after the hurricane ravaged the Gulf Coast.  
Because of Katrina, the biannual cotillion was put on hold, and Candace couldn't have her coming out. 
"We had to worry about recovery and rebuilding everything," Swans President Idella Washington said. "We weren't sure when we were going to be able to have the ball, but we knew eventually we would."

But, things are finally back on track:

On July 26, for the first time since 2002, the Swan's Club celebrated its 25th anniversary and presented its Debutante Cotillion at the Marriott Hotel in New Orleans. This year's theme: "A Debs Dream: Believing and Achieving.""

And the best part?  After hours of etiquette and waltz instruction, a scrapbook and essay contest, a presentation tea, and a Mother's Day event at one of the local churches,.Candace Lewis was named queen of the ball.

I couldn't have written that one better.


In other news, I had brunch today with fellow debutantes Sarah Rees Brennan, Sarah Cross and Sarah Ockler...yes...four Sarah's at one table at Chat 'n' Chew and there was no rip in the space time continuum. Not that we didn't try our best. It was very fun...and so great to chill with a group of brilliant new writers.

Now, I have to be self-disciplined and stop watching Mad Men so I can write. Wish me luck!