On this date in 1951, 23 Charlotte debutantes, “looking as gracious as any ante-bellum belles,” appear on the cover of Life magazine.
Inside, Life devotes a four-page spread to Charlotte’s recent challenge to “the social supremacy” of Raleigh:
“For many a decade an old social tradition has plagued North Carolina’s country belles: the only affair that would surely stamp them debutantes was Raleigh’s big Terpsichorean Ball. Once every year young ladies all over the state would keep a wistful eye on the mails for Raleigh’s cherished invitation. Then, hearts aflutter, a few of them would set out for the capital and twirl around for a while in white-gloved elegance at the one dance that really counted.
“But others thought it unfair that Raleigh should set itself up to be the social arbiter of the state. So last year the ladies of Charlotte decided to throw off the yoke. Charlotte, they reasoned, was bigger, richer and nicer than Raleigh, and should have a say of its own. They seceded from Raleigh society and announced their plans for the Charlotte Debutante Ball.
“This June the ball’s second staging proved Charlotte was ready to give the Terpsichorean a real race for prestige. Charlotte’s debutantes were every bit as dainty and decollete [as Raleigh’s], Charlotte’s young men were just as gracious.”