The Debutante Ball in the Age of Instagram

A ritual of the 1 percent endures in Manhattan.

Comments: 156

  1. More like 0.1 percent the rest of the 1 percent do not have this kind of wealth or time.

  2. Or interest...

  3. There are circles even in New York that money and power will not allow you in. These frequently involve "old money family" and when did your family arrive. These new parties are a fantastic way for these people to donate to charity and mingle with friends. But they will still not allow you into the most private reaches of society. The same applies in Vienna or Paris. Family history and dedication to country are more important than wealth. Money will only get you so far anymore.

  4. @Per Axel As the fact checkers like to say, This is misleading. While it is true that money and power alone will not provide entry, it is equally true that entry is not possible without money and power.

  5. @Per Axel Yes. And I call it a "5' deep dirt ceiling". Most of us do not even know that celing exist - you think you are looking into the black sky...but without the stars... Thank you NYT for shedding light on it.

  6. @michaeltide actually, you may be surprised to learn, I was, that there are funds reserved for French aristocrats to attended certain fancy, debutante like balls if their families no longer have the means to manage on their own.

  7. This reminded me of two satires: White Stillman's film, "Metropolitan," and Julian Fellowes's book, "Past Imperfect." Both are delicious and unforgettable trips through "debutante season."

  8. Dreadful autocorrect: I meant Whit Stillman.

  9. I can attest that debutante balls are alive and well in the Bay Area, too, though perhaps not as posh as those in NYC. I had no idea about their existence when our daughter was attending a public high school, but they are big to-do at private high schools.

  10. My sister went to Berkeley High too. I was really surprised when she came home talking about them like it was something she "had" to do.

  11. @sarah No one "has" to do anything. Is a debutante ball, cotillion or whatever you want to call it any more ridiculous or silly than being on a dating site? These events are public, safe for the participants and everyone pays ahead of time, so no arguments over the dinner bill.

  12. Tax inheritance at 99%. There is no moral justification for children of wealth to inherit massive unearned wealth--they need to earn what they get like their parents did. Take that money and put it towards funding truly equal education for ALL kids--especially the underserved urban and rural kids, and let everyone compete on an even playing field. Equal results (ie Socialism) is NOT the American way. But equal *opportunity* is. Inherited wealth is an anathema to the American spirit.

  13. Too bad for “coming to this country to get a better life for your kids”. Guess it’s “me me me” to you. Most people’s motivation to succeed comes from their visions for their kids’ futures. Take that away and the economy will plummet.

  14. @Christie Absolutely not the case, and probably the opposite. Instead of measuring what you pass down to your children in terms of material wealth (which they should earn themselves), you should measure it by how much time you spend with them--teaching them by example, etc. The fact that you don't even know that says everything about who is all about "me me me" in this situation.

  15. @J c There is a difference between charity from the rich, in which the rich decide what to fund, and taxes going to social programs and a social safety net. The difference is democracy. The taxes are spent by democratically elected representatives. What the Republicans have accomplished is to make half the country believe that taxes are NOT spent democratically at all, and that government is "the problem." I don't mind what these people chose as a charity, but I do mind them having the choice. Lots of "charity" money goes to things rich people use, like elite universities.

  16. Its this kind of thing that makes people struggling to pay their mortgage or rent - while hearing about how great the economy is- bitter towards the affluent.

  17. To people living in Kibera, a rented 2/1 might seem like unimaginable luxury they could resent. It’s all relative. Remember after the financial crisis, when companies canceled shindigs right and left so as not to be easy targets? It had a devastating effect on the travel and leisure industry. I’m not a fan of wealth-resentment; I’m much more in favor of just saying hey, employees need to be valued and paid decently.

  18. The money spent helps the dressmakers, hair stylists, florists, musicians, waiters, chefs, and clean up crew pay the rent and mortgages.

  19. @S Turner You fundamentally misunderstand what you are looking at. These children have done *nothing* to earn the wealth they are exhibiting. I'm not against rich people--even rich people that flaunt it. I'm against people that did literally nothing to earn wealth possessing and flaunting it. That is wrong. It is inefficient. It is unamerican.

  20. I’m so averse to public ritual and Society that I didn’t even have a wedding (just the courthouse, on our lunch break) so I get palpitations simply looking at these pictures. It is also an absolute mystery to me that obviously accomplished women would want to participate in a PLU classic meat market, even if it has been way up-dated. But hey, how people spend their money is up to them. Keeps other people in business.

  21. @S Turner They are donating the money. (The organizers said they expect to donate more than $50,000 to a music therapy program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center through Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research, a charity started by the socialite Denise Rich.)

  22. @Mickela I believe S Turner was referring to the fact that such lavish events "keeps other people in business" such as the photographers, the restaurant (waitstaff, cooks, cleaning crew, etc.),etc.

  23. @Mickela So the profits from 2 tables. What happens to the rest of the money?

  24. The Debutante Ball in the modern age is simply an attempt to continue a cultural tradition similar to those in many other ethnic and social groups, like the quinceañera coming of age ceremony, that have also been resurrected after almost dying out. However, since they involve mostly white, and wealthy people, they get mocked and questioned by the press instead of being treated with the respect reserved for other such rites. All are authentic in their own way, however, and should be treated equally when reported on.

  25. @David Godinez In no way shape or form did I get the sense that this article mocked them.

  26. @David Godinez Nope, I also mock my culture and quinceaneras. They're more than "simply an attempt to continue a cultural tradition"...they're a cry for attention in a social media-driven society, and a way to show off just how much money one's family can throw at it. They don't carry the same significance as they originated with, and anyone who believes they do is a fool for not looking at the bigger picture.

  27. @David Godinez I didn't get the sense that the article itself mocked the tradition, though a lot of the comments have. To me it read like a straight up story about a tradition that's unfamiliar and hidden from most of us. I thought it respectfully raised an interesting question -- what's the modern purpose of a social event that initially evolved to present and show off wealthy young women ready to marry. For what it's worth, I'm not comfortable with mocking anyone's dancing.

  28. Quinceanera looks like more fun.

  29. @networthy furthermore, many quinceanera festivities put additional strain, if not debt, on already financially precarious families.

  30. @Abby Krug Yeah! Because all Latinos are poor! /s

  31. This is odd to say the least. None of this seems very sophisticated, elegant, elite or even 1%-ish.

  32. those were the silliest dance sequences I've ever seen. Funny to see this and kind of weird. But, they looked like they were having some fun. I just don't know...smiling

  33. Edith Wharton....you took the words right out of my mouth.

  34. What's with the spin of "the 1%"? We're talking the .1%, not 1. Versailles lives. Will the Jacobins do anything about it or not?

  35. @Fred White More like the .01%.

  36. I noticed in the video at the bottom a lot of them aren't dancing, just walking—and looking rather lost. Surely if you're going to be spending so much money for entry, you should get ballroom dancing lessons beforehand?

  37. Darn, I think I dislocated my eyes with a tremendous eye roll.

  38. "Christiane McCabe has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in geology. She has been a research fellow in the Arctic. She has taught math and science in Micronesia.“Not your stereotypical debutante,” she said." This actually sounds exactly like someone who would be a debutante in 2020. Someone with high achieving education credentials who has worked jobs here and there that sounds very interesting (Arctic! Micronesia!) But maybe were readliy accomplished given parents that have $25k for a table at a ball...

  39. Nowadays I think it is more of a networking and self branding opportunity, esp. at a 2d/3d tier event like this. I thought the International ball was the one for nouveaux riches outsiders. but there is apparently this one as well. One or two of the original ones for local "aristocracy" still exist I think but others have disappeared, whether because of disappearing aristocracy,unwilling offspring, or lack of money, I don't know. But there will always be plenty of new money and self promoters in NYC, so this one continues.

  40. Nowadays I think it is more of a networking and self branding opportunity, esp. at a 2d/3d tier event like this. I thought the International ball was the one for nouveaux riches outsiders. but there is apparently this one as well. One or two of the original ones for local "aristocracy" still exist I think but others have disappeared, whether because of disappearing aristocracy,unwilling offspring, or lack of money, I don't know. But there will always be plenty of new money and self promoters in NYC, so this one continues.

  41. “A ritual the 1 percent endures”? Who’s forcing them?

  42. It doesn't look chic or fun at all.

  43. It looks contrived to me.

  44. Growing up in NJ, I recall a smaller but equally grand event for African American women, called the Cotillion. Friends spent months learning to dance properly and other social graces. What's the NYC equivalent of an AA Debutante Ball?

  45. I believe they are held here, but don't know name(s).

  46. There really isn't relevance for debutante balls in 2020, but interesting from a cultural perspective that they occur. Nice they raise charitable donations, but wonder how little net proceeds actually go to charity? nu

  47. @Bexley Lady Most of them were indeed for charity, not a sleight of hand, as debutantes before these balls were introduced by their families. (My great-grandmother started one. I declined for various reasons). But I must say it seems very, very silly now. The world of the establishment is gone, even as inequality is on the rise.

  48. The frightening element would make more sense if the ball was held on Halloween.

  49. Just another indication that the rich ARE different. When you have so much money, more than you could ever spend in a lifetime, extravagance is meaningless.

  50. How interesting. It's like reading about a tribal culture in New Guinea or somewhere equally (from my viewpoint) exotic.

  51. @writeon1, Well, they are not meant for you.

  52. I was struck at how the ballroom dancing was more lurching about. If anything is a sign of performative 'gramming, it is that this ball looks great in a filtered still, but there were a lot of left feet in action. For all the money spent on clothes and charity tables, it looks like they cut corners when it comes to learning the grace and style required for formal couple dancing.

  53. The gilded age of dynastic wealth in oligarchic America?

  54. Have at ‘er... but, yet, another indication that taxes need to be raised at the top levels.

  55. I thought they only existed nowadays for Southern teenagers. What on earth?

  56. How Northern of you.

  57. Typical ignorance of both the South and the North. I assure you there are Balls right around you in your oh-so-woke Seattle.

  58. As Amy March puts it in Little Women, "...marriage is an economic proposition for me." Do we really believe the conventions of 1890 are that much different from today? This is America, we worship power, money, and youth. From the Virginia Company to the Amazon Corporation; one named for the virginal Queen and the other for a tribe of powerful woman warriors.

  59. What a nightmare. I cannot imagine any young woman or man wanting to partake in this. The rich really ARE different, and not in a way that most of us envy.

  60. I've seen groups of dogs at the dog park running and playing together and exhibiting more grace in their movements than what the last gif shows this crowd awkwardly manifesting.

  61. And people are confused why Sanders is so popular?

  62. I thought dinosaurs were extinct?

  63. Envying, verbally attacking rich people attending social function typical faux woke action.

  64. The recent creation of obscene levels of dynastic wealth accumulation and every billionaire is a failed government policy. Americans would be rioting in the streets if they understood how much has been stolen from them. It’s not jealousy. It’s moral and righteous outrage.

  65. ...sitting in my hum drum office waiting for the drip of income next Thursday. I don’t have time for a protest, we have a meeting about new computer use compliance in two hours and the coordinator is gonna kill us if anyone misses it. The revolution isn’t.

  66. @LILO Minus draft, accessing cheap affordable Netflix satisfying opiate, no rioting; periods of contentment satisfying.

  67. Accomplished women, beautiful as well. But how did the men earn their way in?

  68. @Jonathan From what I remember, the men (the escorts) are sometimes students at one of the service academies (e.g. West Point, Annapolis, etc...) and are picked/volunteer to attend. Those men are a little more economically diverse and lend the air of old world escorting by future military officers. I had several friends who attended the service academies from our blue collar home on Staten Island and they had some stories to tell me about the excesses of the rich at these parties (especially the after parties).

  69. @Jonathan Height and dancing ability.

  70. @Jonathan Reading “An American Tragedy”. Watching “A Place in the Sun”.

  71. Quite demeaning for the men, to have them on their knees like that.

  72. That photo with the women in the middle and the men on their knees on the perimeter is so-o-o creepy.

  73. Stupid, pretentious, out-dated event. Little rich girls complaining about being invited and so proud that they didn't go. It's the same old song, hugely rich people stating how much they "depise" having privilege and money. Gimme a break.

  74. Ugh talk about retrograde. I'm from Dallas and the wannabe's love their coming out parties as if this is still the 1950s. That along with mandatory SMU attendance and a Pi Phi memberships. LOL perfect little rich girls.

  75. @Mary Rivkatot, ah yes, SMU and the Pi Phis. I recall one particular football season when UT Austin played SMU at Austin. At halftime, just before the bands took the field, SMU sorority pledges lined up in front of their bleacher stadium seating facing UT students and dropped a wide elegantly painted banner that read: "Our maids went to UT." We Longhorns seriously gored their Mustangs that afternoon. ; )

  76. Weird stuff. Honestly.

  77. Ridiculous.

  78. These rich people use their donations to charity to save face for this kind of narcissistic display. However, the rich don’t need a ball to donate their money: giving it outright is fine and save money at the same time. And while they’re at it...just outside Cipriani at 42nd Street are loads of homeless and mentally ill citizens of New York who’d love some help from these preening show-offs.

  79. Thank you so much for reporting this ball - I find it fascinating and so interesting to learn about people so different than I. Live and let live, think of all of the money spent that trickles down to other people?? Our Denver Post will not even report our Debutante Ball at the Brown Palace - not politically correct enough for them, and that makes me very sad.

  80. @Mamie Watts LOL. Why don't you and your richie rich friends donate some money to the Post to save some journalists' jobs instead of holding archaic parties and whining about the lack of coverage??

  81. Reminds me of the first scenes in the '30s film My Man Godfrey, the scavenger hunt for the Forgotten Man, played by William Powell.

  82. @Deborah It was on TCM last night!

  83. I have dressed in gowns and attended waltzes in San Francisco. They were fun, and cost about $250 per couple, with dinner. However, everyone knew how to waltz. Why call it a ball, when clearly many of those attending can't dance? A roomful of waltzing couples is an elegant, beautiful thing to behold. This was just painful!

  84. Inadvertently, I read the NY Times article about Daniel, the Golden Retriever, at The Westminster Dog Show and subsequently read this article about debutantes at The Viennese Opera Ball. It was a bit surreal, how similar the two events are - the contestants' attire was equally elegant at both but the dancing was better at Westminster. People seem to be having fun at both events and as they were presumably participating on a voluntary basis, what is the harm? Yes, there is a waste of resources going on ephemeral expenditures throughout our society, not just at the top, but are we now to judge and determine what others do with their discretionary spending? (*I do agree with a wealth tax, however, more progressive taxation, and better provisions to lift people out of poverty - but that is a discussion for a different forum.)

  85. @Margaret Race "I do agree with a wealth tax, however, more progressive taxation, and better provisions to lift people out of poverty - but that is a discussion for a different forum." well maybe the two issues are related: _if_ billionaires paid their fair share in tax and social mobility was as high in the US as it is in Europe, then maybe people would not sneer so much at this type of antiquated events, and see them as an inoffensive, if a bit weird, way to have fun. but needless to say, we're not there as a nation yet, and even worse, it seems like we're moving farther and farther from that ideal of fairness.

  86. Although to me this would be a total waste of money, what is wrong with these people donating their money to charity as they wish, while also having a great time? If they have a good time, and have the money to back up that good time, then so be it, without all the negative commentary. Charitable golf events, Catholic charity bingo with wine and food, charitable fishing tournaments, etc are all events I dont desire to participate in, but certainly dont knock them either. Of course those aren't as pricey as this thing. I also wasn't aware that people are supposed to be judged for how they dance, but thought the purpose was to enjoy yourself?

  87. This ritual is rich girls ready for upper-class marriages displayed as merchandise to rich men: a job interview decorated with white "purity" gowns. Yuck. Let the thing die. Women are now viable without the "career" of marriage.

  88. My primary experience with debutante balls is an episode of Gilmore Girls and various comments by Jane Austen, and this article plus Austen's and Lorelei Gilmore's opinion of them has me more convinced than ever that there are about a million better ways to lead a meaningful, interesting, satisfying life. I suppose one of that advantages of not being in the 1% is that I've never had to contend with this particular form of nonsense. So, at least there's that!

  89. They would never fit in on Dancing with the Stars.

  90. Fairly bad dancing.

  91. Wonder how many of these women attended and graduated from public schools in NYC???

  92. What a droll little evening for these cherubs! I'm sure it will serve them well as they make friends and gain access to the levels of power and privilege.

  93. My daughters attended several debutante balls in NYC and Boston in the early 2000’s. The only memorable thing they talk about to this day is when another attendee made off with shoes my daughter had borrowed from me and she had to return home barefoot. Apparently the young women take off their shoes after a few dances. Mine were kind of irresistible, I guess. J.

  94. Alex Donner and Peter Duchin's bands are and have been so popular on the party circuit in New York all these years for a reason. They are good and they are versatile, playing everything from Frank Sinatra to Gaga. The fact that you may hear them at most events on the circuit is a testimony to how successful they are.

  95. Dance is clearly a lost art

  96. "D. Colgate Rumbough, who was listed in the Viennese ball’s program as a chairman of the Junior Committee, called it “more authentic and more elegant” than other stops on the social circuit. “It isn’t just another party with Peter Duchin or Alex Donner,” he said, referring to two society bandleaders. “It’s the full experience as it is done in Vienna, with a full string section, lush and romantic.”" Ahh, well thank you for clarifying, 'Colgate'. I thought it was just another standard Duchin/Donner party. Wait- who are they?

  97. @DennisMcG A Donner party is where you eat the rich.

  98. I came of age during the debutante era of the early 1960s. While I did not “come out” my brothers and now-husband were escorts at some of the fanciest balls. My question is, what is that crazy dancing in the video? It looks like something from the 19th C., not anything I remember from ballroom dancing lessons.

  99. @PSS Upon seeing the video of the dancing, I had a similar thought concerning the dancing. Especially given the statement that the dancing ability of putative escorts is an important consideration. The video of dancing shown in this article documents couples who appear to sport no more and sometimes less than beginning ballroom dance skills. Ah, one must always be on guard for hyperbole from those who inhabit the lofty towers of the 1%!

  100. @PSS I'm guessing it's a polka. It's a Viennese ball after all. But, only a few couples really seemed to know what they were doing,; most seemed to be just striding or bouncing around.

  101. But who exactly does the inviting, and from whom do they compile their lists? Also, who "applies" to be accepted at this ball? Who would even hear about doing that? Those key points were not explained. In Vienna, real balls are attended by anybody and they're a lot of fun.

  102. .01%

  103. Oh for heaven’s sake. It’s a pretty tradition for many families. The truly “exclusive “ debutante balls have nothing to do with a girl’s “accomplishments” and everything to do with her family, ie “old money” or old “social position “ (often the two are far from the same). It’s a party and the girls look very pretty in their white dresses and long white gloves. It’s far from being a meat market as these girls are in their 1st and 2nd year in college and have no desire to marry for years. They do this as it’s a family tradition- mother, grandmother did the same. The International debutante fall is only exclusive if it means one can write a fat check, and this one is similar. These balls are for the aspirational. Interesting that commenters who are offended by such don’t also take a shot at Sweet 16’s, Quinceaneras, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, all of which are often very expensive, elaborate affairs, with no benefit to a charity. Had sad class warfare has reached the point when being part of a nice party is considered such an awful thing to do. Such parties provide a lot of people with lucrative employment.

  104. @India If you think this is class warfare, just wait until the GOP takes away everyone's health insurance while raising taxes.

  105. @India It's exclusionary, misogynistic, snobbish and gross. And imagine how much money is being spent on this.

  106. Because the raison d’etre of these kinds of events is exclusivity. Exclusivity means exclusion: people like it because most are excluded from it. Very different premise than quincenieras.

  107. I was perplexed by a BS/MS in Geology? I guess when you don't have worry about getting a job, you can study whatever you like. When you are "not your typical debutante" the world is your oyster.

  108. @HistoryRhymes Geology is a useful major. A lot of geologists are employed by the gas and oil industry. Similarly, one wants to employ a geologist or someone with knowledge of geology when constructing large buildings, or trying to determine environmental impacts in conservation.

  109. @HistoryRhymes Spoken by one who clearly knows nothing of the application of geology into multiple facets of science and industry - resource extraction, civil engineering, environmental work, climate change research, risk management and emergency response planning, the list goes on. I work with many geologists; we are all gainfully employed. I'm taking additional geology courses myself now.

  110. @HistoryRhymes The entirety of society revolves around the geosciences. Do you enjoy roads and buildings that don't collapse underneath you? How about clean drinking water from a surface catchment like a dam or from a shallow aquifer? I assume you use electronic devices and plastics, not to mention toothpaste, cosmetics, white paper, tires, cat litter, electricity, drywall, water filters, food grown with fertilizer, metal, and glass. Maybe you looked at earthquake, avalanche, or flood hazard maps before you bought your home? Perhaps you appreciate the daily weather report. I have a BS in Geological Engineering, an MS in Geological Sciences, and a six-figure job waiting for me upon completion of my PhD. Oh, and no debt, because I held paying jobs and internships within my field for the entire twelve years I've been a student of geology.

  111. To those of us outside the financial elite, this looks like a bizarre pageant. I really do not get it. But then again, this is not *for* me.

  112. I imagine most people cannot relate to this. It's definitely a moneyed and privileged event. Long ago, I also was a debutante. I remember my gown and picture in the paper. The ball was lovely. But it was something my parents wanted and I had enough academic and social achievements to qualify for the selection process. My mother cried when I was one of the 12 chosen. I don't regret the experience but, for me, it was just one of many and I never thought much about it. Nor, did it ever occur to me to put my high-achieving daughters through the process. Anyway, this brought back some memories ... except now, it strikes me as so opulent.

  113. @Pavane ...and phony.

  114. @Pavane I think you intended to use the word "obscene," correct? Or is that just everyone else that was thinking that. Inherited wealth is immoral, inefficient, and unamerican. We need to end it immediately.

  115. Fascinating. I thought debutante balls were a hold over from the antebellum south. I attended one here, Dogwood Debutantes, many years ago. It was a bizarre ritual display and appraisal of the young women, and reminded me that old, aristocratic traditions still applied. It's a shame to see the woman market alive and thriving in this day and age.

  116. No, they are not particular to the South. Sad to see a Southerner possessing the bias of the arrogant Yankee North.

  117. Twenty years ago, I attended a large debutante ball as an unassigned escort. Unassigned escorts were to show up (in uniform), look as strapping as possible, and ensure that every debutante had multiple men waiting at least 1 minute but no more than 5 minutes to ask to cut in for a dance. Each girl talked about how she was not an average debutante and how she was only there to make her parents happy. The after-parties each night were some of the most debaucherous events I have ever attended. We joked that the debutante balls were simply a way for the elite to have the kind of drunken and promiscuous experiences that normal college girls did without the negative stigma. Although the majority of us (the plebeian escorts) enjoyed the event, we also understood our place.

  118. @Bill You should write a tell-all book!!!

  119. I was one of the debs. Declined from talking to the Times because I knew this would be the likely angle. It's funny though, this was actually the most 'real' thing I've participated in for a while. I like how this article mentions dating apps, which are honestly hell. I didn't join this to get 'matched up', if it had that vibe I would've hightailed it quick. The day of the event I was almost overwhelmed by how much I felt like Cinderella. I've been trying to 'deprogram' myself from all of the Disney, rom com etc. that I ate up as 'the truth' as a kid, so I was actually pretty shocked when I looked in the mirror and thought "Oh my god, kid me is actually getting a moment. What the heck". I'm 'aware' enough to be shocked by how much I liked this event. Met up with a lot of people my age on a regular basis, I didn't drop more than 1,500 on everything leading up to the event (I almost never go on vacation, I don't spend a lot going out because I'm pretty much a homebody, idk you can argue that it's a lot if you want to). In 'these modern times' annual organized events still get people together. There were opera performances which were incredible. Also they posted the worst dancing of the night, and we spent the week before doing long rehearsals. Felt like being on a school team again, which was nice. This was an easy opportunity for the Times to say what is expected. Also I personally didn't take my phone during the ball. If I wanted attention I'd post a pic in a bikini.

  120. Lavish introductions of females to society are hardly limited to rich white folks in NYC. Would the author have had the same poison in the pen for a Hispanic quinceañera? Just as lavish and costly, if not more. Oh, but white folks represent a much more convenient target? Don't they?

  121. I think the Viennese Opera Ball is lovely. Why shouldn’t these young ladies attend? The proceeds from this ball goes toward a very good cause. With so many people suffering from cancer today, this money is directed to much needed programs. I think we all know someone who has had cancer and if these donations go towards this terrible disease we should praise this. This money will do a lot of good; and who knows those complaining may find themselves one day developing this disease. I certainly hope this is not the case but cancer can and does strike many people. Hopefully those critical of these fancy balls will not be a recipient of this dreaded illness.

  122. So they have money or want to show that they have money or whatever, what's with all the cattiness folks? Live and let live. BTW, I am sure NYT commentors are the best dancers in the world, people are saying ...

  123. Oy Vey

  124. This antiquated and ostentatious, pretentious "ball" should go the way of beauty pageants and other appalling wastes of time and money. The accompanying videos are hilarious, highlighting the fact that these obscenely rich and spoiled white people have absolutely no rhythm.

  125. Sewanee author John Jeremiah Sullivan would be my pick to write a feature story about debutante balls. If you haven’t read Pulphead look up his essay about a Christian rock festival, Upon This Rock.

  126. Is this the same one Blair Waldorf attended?

  127. The name D. Colgate Rumbough makes it worthwhile to read this article.

  128. As my mother said- “Rich people have to have SOMETHING to do with their money!”

  129. They need dancing lessons.

  130. "The crowd is predominantly white." Because I'm sensitive to this sort of thing, I couldn't help but notice that the photos with African-American participates are of the same woman...

  131. Christiane McCabe has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in geology. She has been a research fellow in the Arctic. She has taught math and science in Micronesia. “Not your stereotypical debutante,” she said. Wealthy, unfettered and free to pursue whatever she wants while barely an adult? Sounds pretty stereotypical to me: lots of debutantes at the undergrad I attended claimed they “weren’t” that debutante yet still embraced the tradition.

  132. So this event will donate the rough equivalent of the cost for TWO guest tables to the charity they note in the story (up to $25,000 per table and "more than" $50,000 to be donated.) That's a lot of overhead. It's not about the donation. I guess that makes it feel righteous. Had to laugh at the comments about the after-party debauches!

  133. Did I spot Spalding Smails in the background? " Ahoy polloi"

  134. Looks absolutely painful. Why would anyone want to dress up exactly the same as everyone else, and pretend that they know how to dance with strangers? The rules of the super rich are perplexing and boring. Some traditions should die.

  135. John Jeremiah Sullivan (Sewanee C’97) would do this subject justice. If anyone hasn’t read JJS’s collection of essays, Pulphead, check out Upon This Rock, about attending a Christian rock festival.

  136. The rich maybe different but they sure could stand to take a few dance lessons.

  137. The guests dancing in the video look like they have no idea what they're doing. I feel kind of embarrassed for them.

  138. My sister was a deb and I always thought it was a revolting patriarchal ceremony where a young woman was presented like a prize steer to society in general. In the 1950's when she made her debut, it was a hunting ground for an acceptable (code for old blood, monied) husband. I recall my narcisistic mother simpering around, dropping the words "deb ball" whenever possible to establish what she believed was the social superiority of the family. I wouldn't care if a debutante had a PhD from MIT in astrophysics, I would still think her a fool.

  139. Debutant ball, or cattle call? Hard to tell the difference.

  140. My goodness. I hope they had a good time, because from this side it does all seem rather irrelevant, doesn't it?

  141. Flintstones aficionados: prefer attending Joe Rockhead’s “Fireman’s Ball amongst “riffraff” or the Ambassador’s Reception?☺️

  142. I think one could video a group of poor farmers, waitresses and all sorts of down-at-heel laborers—economically disadvantaged people in other words!—and see better examples of dancing. Or what else can we call what they are doing? It looks like a stampede of exceptionally awkward beasts. Mrs Astor indeed! I’m swooning myself, in 2020!

  143. Jacqueline Bouvier, I recall, was feted as "Deb of the Decade"-- unlike the doltish dollar dregs of the decade featured here -- a lower-upper-class lollygag of louts -- gag me with a (silver-plated) spoon.

  144. Clickbait article, y'all knew everyone would want to read and comment to hate on some rich people. A party is not news. Nor is it a reason to hate on the wealthy - some of them behave in such a way to provide real reasons to hate on them, but throwing a benefit party would not be one of them. Many of them have done nothing to earn others' ire, but seem to do so anyway.

  145. Get over it people! If someone wants to spend their money on a dance for their kids, let them! This is still America, although with Bernie's popularity and the likes of the comments here, it seems that could be short lived. Who are these elitists commenting on what wealthy people should spend their money on and how they should live? Stop the resentment encouraged by 'us' vs. 'them' 'rich vs. poor!'

  146. Meh. Any party can be fantastic, or miserable, depending on who is there and how well they relate to each other. It's the guests that make the fun, not the clothes.

  147. It’s really true. Rich folks cannot dance.

  148. I'm sure Ivanka was a deb. How is that not "elitist"??

  149. I could watch the dancing video all day. White people hopping and galloping and colliding.

  150. @Annie Private party harming nobody unlike annoying menacing subway “showtime!” hustlers.

  151. @Annie That was a little startling to witness, wasn't it?!

  152. @Annie LOL-I laughed so hard at all the stiff white people who have absolutely NO sense of rhythm!!

  153. All those women in white dresses and flowers looks like something out of Midsommar. When do the sacrifices begin?

  154. I didn't see any tattoos on the women. That's a good thing. How do I get my son invited to one of these? He too has no tattoos.

  155. When I was young I had always thought that Debutante Balls were a made up thing. I was quite surprised to find they were real. Now do you think someone will create a course for adults to try these Debutante Balls? It would be fun to try!