North Carolina Debutante Ball

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North Carolina Debutante Ball
Genredebutante ball
Date(s)Labor Day weekend
Location(s)Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Raleigh, North Carolina
United States
Patron(s)The Terpischorean Club

The North Carolina Debutante Ball, also known as the Terpsichorean Society Debutante Ball, is an annual debutante ball held in Raleigh, North Carolina. The ball, hosted by the Terpsichorean Club of Raleigh, is the oldest and most prestigious debutante ball in North Carolina. Originally organized in 1923 as the Raleigh Fall Festival, the formal debutante ball formed in 1927 with the founding of the Terpischorean Club. The ball is held every year over Labor Day weekend in downtown Raleigh.


The North Carolina Debutante Ball was originated in 1923, when a group of merchants from Raleigh, North Carolina sponsored the Raleigh Fall Festival. Young women from prominent North Carolinian families were presented as candidates to be crowned as Queen of the Festival by the Governor of North Carolina.[1] In 1927 the Terpsichorean Club, a secret society named after the Greek muse Terpsichore, was formed to organize and sponsor the first official North Carolina Debutante Ball.[2] The annual ball was set to be held on the first weekend after Labor Day at the Raleigh Civic Center.[1][3]

Over time, the debutante season expanded from one evening ball to a weekend including tea parties, luncheons, parties, and two formal dances held at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium.[1][4][5] During this time, the tradition of having each debutante formally presented, as they were during the festival, was reestablished. Each debutante was escorted by a chief marshal and four assistant marshals. In 1956 the rules changed and the number of assistant marshals permitted was reduced to two. In 1953 the rules were changed again to allow fathers to serve as chief marshals for their daughters.[1]

The ball was placed on a hiatus during World War II.[6][7] In 1948 the ball was postponed until the week after Christmas due to a polio epidemic in the Piedmont Triad.[1] In 1996 the ball was postponed again due to severe damage across the state from Hurricane Fran.[1]

Modern ball[edit]

Every year young women from around North Carolina, usually in their freshman or sophomore year of college, are nominated to be presented at the ball.[8] Members of the Terpsichorean Club make the final selection of candidates. The women are selected from families who have made economic, social, cultural, or civic contributions to North Carolina.[6] A "lead debutante" is selected every year from Wake County, as the seat of the state capitol.[6] The ball weekend, still during Labor Day weekend, includes eight functions.[9] The formal presentation of debutantes takes place at Meymandi Concert Hall in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh.[6]

Notable debutantes[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "North Carolina Debutante Ball | NCpedia".
  2. ^ "Terpsichorean Club of Raleigh announces 2017 N.C. Debutantes | Raleigh News & Observer". Archived from the original on 2020-04-01. Retrieved 2020-02-20.
  3. ^ "Fifty-first Annual Debutante Ball: Raleigh Civic Center, Raleigh, North Carolina, September 8th, 9th, 10th MCMLXXVII". Terpsichorean Club. February 21, 1977 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ "Article" (PDF). Retrieved 2020-02-21.
  5. ^ Terpsichorean Club (Raleigh, N.C.) (February 21, 1968). Forty-second annual debutante ball: Memorial Auditorium, Raleigh, North Carolina, September 5th, 6th, 7th MCMLXVIII. Terpsichorean Club. OCLC 214034119 – via Open WorldCat.
  6. ^ a b c d Staff, North State Journal (July 21, 2019). "2019 North Carolina Debutantes announced".
  7. ^ "Hickory women to be presented at North Carolina Debutante Ball". HDR | Hickory Daily Record.
  8. ^ "Debutante Society".
  9. ^ a b "An Unlikely Debutante". Retrieved 2020-02-20.