Freshman PDC creates stress for female students

PDC, or Pre-Debutante Cotillion, a 43-year-old privately held dance that has become an Atlanta tradition, sent widespread panic among Atlanta-area freshmen when the first invitations to the freshman dance came out on Jan. 6.  The voices of freshman girls battling for dates to the annual dance filled private high school hallways across Atlanta.        

Although the dance is not until April 3, freshmen are already beginning to worriedly plan ahead. Four PDCs are held each year at local country clubs – one for the girls in each grade level, although girls may ask a boy in any grade to PDC. Freshman PDC is the last dance of the season: sophomore PDC is typically held in January, junior PDC is usually held in November, and senior PDC is always in January.

The girls’ high stress levels may appear trivial from an adult’s point of view and have them wondering, “Why is this one so important? Why is freshman PDC the most stressful?”

“The freshmen don’t really know how it works; they’re kind of just starting out their first year,” said sophomore Meghna Patel.

Most upperclassmen have at least one PDC under their belts, but the same cannot be said about the freshmen. Not knowing what to expect or how to handle the dance has caused high stress among the young girls.

According to freshman Ellie Conway, ever since the moment invitations arrived at the girls’ houses, there has been a constant chatter around school about whom everyone is asking.

“I haven’t had an actual conversation with anyone in three weeks,” said Conway, “because everyone’s stressing about PDC.”

Questions about dates, dresses, and everything PDC have exhausted conversations.

Over the years, girls have invented creative ways to ask their dates to PDC.  From “PDC” written on top of cupcakes or clever puns on decorative signs, the unique ideas never fail to impress onlookers. Yet finding an original way to ask to their dates plays only a small factor in the overall stress level of the frantic high school girls.

The term “swooping” has been used multiple times when referring to asking dates. If a girl “swoops” somebody, she has asked the date another girl was planning on asking. Girls are often left in tears from the large amounts of drama that ensue from PDC, such as having to rethink their dates after being “swooped.”

Asking a date to PDC can be chaotic, but many girls are reassured when the task is over and they know whom they are asking to the dance. The suspense leading up to the moment is tense, but after their dates are set, both people are able to relax.

“I think the asking is definitely the most stressful part, but once you get that over with, you are kind of relieved and you know you get to go,” said freshman Leah Klein, who is planning on attending the dance this spring.

Hosted by Libba Wight, the old southern tradition has been a fun way to socialize with others in the same grade at different schools. Although this annual production seems like pure pleasure, the PDC dance can be extremely stressful, especially for the girls invited. Girls go through a lot of work in preparation for PDC.  From mani-pedis to getting hair and makeup done, everything must be perfect on this night.

“Finding a dress is pretty hard, but that’s the most important. Then you have to find some shoes and get your hair and makeup done,” said junior Caroline Cravens.

The dress shopping can be the hardest part for some people. Many girls struggle to find that “perfect dress” in time for PDC night. Traveling to multiple malls and stores, both moms and daughters are tense during this time.

“Dress shopping is the most important thing,” said Patel.

As well as the stress of finding a dress, the cost of PDC can also put strain on many families.  People pay large sums of money in order to look their best on the night of the dance, but the price tags put a big dent in many people’s wallets.

The costs include buying a $265 ticket into the dance, a dress, shoes, and in most cases the cost of getting hair and makeup done by a professional.

Although the dance seems like a walk in the park for the boys, they are often just as anxious as the girls. Many boys are concerned that they will not be able to attend the dance because they will not be asked.  Girls can control their PDC experience, but the boys are reliant on the girls to ensure an enjoyable time at the dance.

“You don’t know if you’re getting asked and it’s kind of stressful,” said freshman Grant Matzigkeit.

Boys, even though they aren’t sure if they will attend the dance, remain hopeful and excited while waiting for a date to ask them. The excitement and anticipation leading up to the event can often overtake the amount of stress some students experience.

“I think it’s fun to see which one of your friends is going to ask you,” said freshman Lonnie Reid.

In past years, upperclassmen have attempted to sneak into PDC, especially at the freshmen dance.  “Crashing,” as it is most commonly known, has been an apparent problem at many PDCs in past years. Lately, there have been precautions put in place to prevent upperclassmen from attending the other dances.

Senior Molly Wright stated that students who are invited to the dance are required to bring some form of identification, whether it be a driver’s license or school ID, in order to prove that they are on the guest lists. Parent chaperones watch the crowd and remove any students who are not supposed to attend the dance.

In addition to the formal dance, the girls must attend the mandatory “Coke Party” in February to learn about proper manners and hospitality expected at the party.

Amid all of the commotion, the students always manage to enjoy their time at the dance.  The live band’s music allows the girls and boys to relax, and they are able to enjoy food and drinks as they chat with friends from other schools.

At the end of the long process, most people, male and female, agree they had a great experience at PDC. Many students realize that their hard work and preparation has paid off.

“The actual dance is really fun. I like it,” said Cravens.