West Side teens prepare for First Annual Cotillion Beautillion Gala

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Cotillion season is underway in Chicago, with debutantes and beaus preparing for their formal rite of passage. Inside the 11th Police District, plans are underway for the social event of the year for Chicago's West Side, the First Annual Cotillion Beautillion Gala.

"The Cotillion process actually teaches them to appreciate one another," said Community Advisory Chairperson Nicole Harvey.

"To me the most outstanding element that they will learn respect young ladies and how to eat at a dinner table," said Sgt. Daniel Allen.

The Chicago Illinois Chapter of the Links is already preparing for its 57th Cotillion this spring, an elegant affair with sponsored young ladies presented to society in distinctive white dresses.

The tradition of Cotillions goes back decades and took on special meaning among high-society African American families, emphasizing philanthropy, professionalism and etiquette. Cotillion season is meant to prepare young African Americans for formal events, and life in general.

"The Debutante Cotillion...honors the academic accomplishments and extracurricular activities of young African American women," said Kimbra Bell Balark, chair of Chicago Illinois Links Debutante Cotillion.

For the young men on the Westside, this tradition is a new one, and they've added their own twist. For their event, beaus and debutantes do not need to be sponsored, but rather nominate themselves for the free program. They will have 8 weeks of classes about college, careers, courtesy, and how to carry themselves with pride.

"Learning skills that will prepare you for later in in life ...go to a job interview, know how the present yourself, know how to dress, be able to get that job," said Laron Simpson.

"Women like to be treated a certain way so when I get older I can treat them the right way," said Reginald Sandifer.

The young men and ladies will be formally presented under the golden dome of the Garfield Park Fieldhouse on April 22.

Those interested in the Westside Cotillion Beautillion can apply by contacting the 11th District CAPS Office at caps.011District@ChicagoPolice.org or 312-746-9841.

The deadline to apply is Feb. 20.
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