Thursday 29 September 2016

Hair? Hummer? Fake tan? Yes, Debs season is in full flight

Published 18/09/2015 | 07:00

Emily Burke (18), a student at St Colmcilles, Knocklyon, has her make-up done for her Debs by Breifne Keogh of Brown Sugar in Blackrock, Dublin
Emily Burke (18), a student at St Colmcilles, Knocklyon, has her make-up done for her Debs by Breifne Keogh of Brown Sugar in Blackrock, Dublin

The stretch Hummers are lined out, the gunaí hanging on the backs of bedroom doors and the bottles of fake tan standing proudly to attention.

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Yes, 'Debs Season' is in full flight - a heady rite of passage when teenagers floundering in post-Leaving Cert limbo reunite for an evening of big emotions and even bigger hair.

The Debs mixes together elements of the UK's now defunked Debutante Season and the all-Americana notion of Prom Night to create an event that is distinctly and unashamedly Irish.

These days, Debs are an all-night affair, complete with awards ceremonies, based on themes (Masquerade, 007, Oscars), candy carts, photo booths and fire juggling shows.

There are specialised Debs companies that can turn dream Debs into a reality.

Between the limos, the tickets, the clobber and the 'hur', the Debs are big business. Most girls spend roughly €600 getting dolled-up for the occasion. And it seems that the boys are also upping their game.

"Lads used to rent any old suit," Alan McArdle, founder of Debs Ireland, said. "Now they are demanding Best Dressed Gent awards."

Mr McArdle has been helping students organise their Debs for 20 years and says modern debutantes are committed and conscientious party animals.

"Practically every school wants to keep the party going till 5am and finish with a breakfast buffet," he said.

During the boom years, the Debs went into overdrive and started to resemble episodes of MTV's hit series 'My Super Sweet Sixteen'.

Kids were getting dropped to their schools in Robinson R44 helicopters and the starting price for a stretch Hummer was €800.

But in the past five years, prices for limos have dropped, with most companies now offering a 'Debs deal' of four stop-offs and a complimentary bottle of Prosecco or Sprite for around the €550 mark.

It may be costly, not to mention cheesy, but the Debs are a hugely important milestone for students on the cusp of adulthood.

Irish Independent

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