Burgess Cotillion etiquette

Burgess Cotillion Program

Mrs White – Cotillion Mom

My first experience with Burgess Cotillion was being the "little sister who wasn’t old enough." My big brother Steve did cotillion for just one year as a 7th grader. I remember that he learned “who goes first” through the Cotillion doors and that he came home with the most awesome prize imaginable: a glass Santa boot about six inches tall full of pennies. The story gets fuzzy after that of why no one else was signed up for Cotillion. Mom says she lost the paper and/or the location moved (and this was well before you could just Google it) and she didn’t know how to register again. That was that.

But lucky for me, I stumbled across a small advertisement for Burgess Cotillion in the School Guide (maybe Kids’ Guide, apparently fuzzy stories run in the family) when my oldest, Tommy, was in 3rd grade. We had missed the September dance but were ready in plenty of time for the Halloween dance in October.

Step one was to convince that 3rd grader to participate. I broached the topic while we were driving. “I’m signing you up for Cotillion.” “What’s that?,” he asked. “Where you learn to dance with a girl” – and then I tried desperately to sound casual and not laugh out loud. “Oh, and I’ll pay you $5 a month to go.” Success! Tommy had a great time! He even won a prize during the last guest night of the season when he brought some friends and had his “bring a guest raffle ticket” drawn. Cotillion took a summer break and Tommy was anxious to start again in September to start earning his $5 again.

Tommy is now a senior in high school and I haven’t had to pay him to go to Cotillion for years. He’s learned to tie his own tie without my help and I’ve learned that the local thrift store is great for putting together theme dance outfits. All four of my children started Cotillion in 3rd grade and have had a great time. They always get a kick out of seeing someone at school or a concert and saying, “Hey! He goes to Cotillion!”

I love to dance, but it wasn’t just for the excellent dance instruction that made me so happy to see that advertisement. My kids are quite shy so it was the lessons and practice with social interaction that I was looking for. They have learned how to look someone in the eye when they shake hands, how to be polite with a stranger, how to be friendly with their peers, and how to feel comfortable in a group. And of course it doesn’t hurt that they all can dance a mean foxtrot.