It’s a Sunday night. Instead of doing last-minute homework or cherishing the rest of her weekend, junior Brooke Erickson goes over to another girl in her grade’s house. With a large group of girls, they put on their dresses and do their hair together, and then carpool to the country club where Cotillion is being held.
Erickson is one of the students from East who go to Cotillion, a series of three dances throughout the school year ranging from casual to formal. They span from autumn to spring, and provide as an icebreaker for students in the Shawnee Mission School District. Kids are assigned a date for the night via date card, and then spend the rest of the evening dancing with people from other schools.
“It’s just a lot of small talk,” said Erickson. “You ask a lot of the same questions: what sports do you play, do you have brothers and sisters, slow dancing is like talking and messing around, basically.”
Dinner is provided beforehand, and students sit with their assigned dates. They dance the first and last song with them, as well as a song in the middle. The remainder of time is spent perusing a date card, which is filled with the names of eight students across the district.
Girls stand by a sign from their school, and wait for the boy on their date card to find them. They dance both a slow and fast song together. Their time together lasts about five minutes.
There’s one open dance in the middle, where students can choose their partner.
Sophomores through seniors participate in Cotillion. They’re invited sophomore year. Students with older siblings who are in it are automatically invited. The best way to get involved is to find out which parents are in charge of the particular grade, and talk to upperclassmen who have done it previously.
“I’ve actually danced with a lot of the same people,” said Erickson. “It’s to help you get out of your comfort zone.”