Debutante balls might sound outdated. But in 2019, they're more popular than ever.

It’s almost the time of year where seas of teenage girls in white dresses, long satin gloves and carefully manicured hair take the hands of young men in black and white suits across the country.

Yes, it is nearly the season of the Debutante Ball.

Historically, the Debutante Ball (or ‘deb’ as we Aussies call it) was an event where a young woman was ‘introduced to society’ through the acts of social etiquette and appropriate morals.

Today, it seems it is just an occasion for fun and some really bad dancing.

But surely this occasion, you know, the one that was introduced hundreds of years ago for women to essentially be used in a ‘potential wife parade’ for eligible suitors, is now considered outdated?

From general observation the answer seems to be, well, disappointingly… no. In fact, the tradition is still clinging on steadfastly, perhaps even gaining in popularity in some areas.

Teenagers translated: parents will understand.

Video by MMC

Lain Adams, who took part in her deb four years ago, and her mum Leonie Gudgeon shared their insights about the event and its unwavering popularity.

“Lain didn’t want to do it initially, I had talked up how antiquated the whole thing was for quite some time,” Leonie told Mamamia.

“However, she succumbed to peer pressure. The girls would be talking about dresses, partners, make up and she wanted to be involved with them.”


“I felt like I would miss out on too much if I didn’t do it and all my friends were doing it,” Lain added.

With the peer pressure of not wanting to miss out on the fun that all her friends were having, Lain signed up for a local debutante ball organised though her school.

The ball, which is usually held in a local hall, is the finale of weeks of lead up.

“Lain would have dance lessons once a week for two hours in the eight weeks leading up to the ball,” Leonie said.

“Lain and I were totally over it in the end. The reality is parents need to do a lot of running around on top of all the other running around we already do.”

debutante ball Australia
The ball itself is the culmination of weeks of dance lessons and preparation. Image: Supplied.

Although Leonie and Lain both concede the overall experience was fun and is still something she and her friends talk about now, the event didn’t really teach her anything apart from how to dance, a skill she has never used since.

But it’s not just the teaching of useful skills that are lacking when it comes to debutante balls. By the end of the process, you can also be out several thousands of dollars because participating in a deb comes with a hefty price tag.

Leonie lists a multitude of items that were required for the event including: dance lessons, a dress, jewellery, fake tan, professional make up, a hair style, limousine, shoes and then of course, tickets to the event itself. Overall, it cost around $1500 for Lain to participate in her deb ball.

“I am glad I did it, it was fun”, Lain said. “But I don’t think I gained anything from doing my deb."

Leonie agrees, saying she would much prefer for the investment of time and money to be used for something else, even if it was another event, but one that's more purposeful and relevant to today's day and age.

What do you think of deb balls? Tell us in the comments section below. 

Shona Hendley is a freelance writer from Victoria. An ex secondary school teacher, Shona has a strong interest in education. She is an animal lover and advocate, with a morbid fascination for true crime and horror movies. Shona is usually busy writing and raising her children: three goats, two cats and two humans. You can follow her on Instagram @shonamarion. : www.instagram.com/shonamarion/