WHITE GLOVE TEST: Rachel Bass and girls at the 34th Annual Jack and Jill Beautillion Photography by Elizabeth Lavin

Save the Last Dance

The Jack and Jill Beautillion teaches young Beaux to dance—and to be men.

Being a Dallas Chapter Jack and Jill of America Beau is a commitment. Three months of Sundays spent in four-hour leadership development sessions. Four hours of community service. Six hours of team building. Then there’s rehearsal time spent learning two waltzes and a separate Beaux-only dance. On top of that, there are tuxedo fittings and scholarship fundraising to attend to. None of that sounds like something a high school senior, particularly today’s male high school seniors, would be especially interested in doing. But each year, 15 to 30 of Dallas’ brightest young black men take part in the 34-year-old tradition. They don top hats, gloves, and tails. They waltz with their mothers and dates dressed in ball gowns. They are presented, one by one, to 500 representatives of the black Dallas community. The goal is to produce a next generation of black male leaders. 

But the pageantry of the Beautillion ball is really just a means to an end. It’s the journey to the ball that matters to the parents, counselors, ministers, and mentors who nominate would-be Beaux. It’s the etiquette lessons, financial workshops, household budgeting tips, and other life lessons learned throughout the three-month program that will prepare these 17- and 18-year-olds for life beyond high school—possibly beyond Dallas.

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