Bushwick Debutante Ball Turns to 'Impolite Society' to Empower Women

By Meredith Hoffman on May 29, 2013 7:06am 

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 The Brooklyn All Bush Ensemble is a new collective of Bushwick women.
Bushwick Debutante Ball
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BUSHWICK — This ain't your sorority sister's debutante ball.

A group of local women are using the traditional coming-of-age gala to host their own version of the high-society event, but they only have three demands for guests: "Get gaudy, get glam, get trashy!"

The borough's new female club BABE, or the Brooklyn All Bush Ensemble, promises "freaky-beauty" makeovers, "the most (in)appropriately glam photo op," and "maybe even a deranged sorority girl or two" at their over-the-top shindig this weekend during Bushwick Open Studios.

"We'll all be dressed in ball gowns, which we've decorated and destroyed to various degrees ... so we encourage people to dress up however they feel the most confident and fun!" said BABE member and Bushwick resident Liz Bowen, 23. "And yes, in fact, there will be some channeling of the now-infamous deranged sorority girl."

The spectacle and absurdity of this celebration are more than just "fun and whimsical" — it provides a way for the group to achieve its ultimate intention of empowering women, Bowen said.

"The idea of a debutante ball is kind of emblematic of a society that's very traditional and tends to objectify women. It's a bunch of conventionally beautiful teenage girls putting on white dresses to show 'polite society' how refined and pure they are," Bowen said. "So we thought it would be fun to subvert that, and introduce ourselves to 'impolite' society as this group of women who aren't afraid to talk about our bodies and our experiences in ways that maybe the traditional debutante-ball types might not approve of."

Meanwhile, the ball will act as a "debut" for the new club, which a group of women formed while finishing a local production of "The Vagina Monologues" this spring.

"Basically we want to be an outlet for women in Bushwick, in Brooklyn or anywhere in New York to break the silence surrounding women's bodies and struggles," said Bowen, who will also be rapping with two other women about street harassment at the ball. "Kind of in the same vein as how we're reclaiming the tradition of the debutante ball, we took this word [babe] that's traditionally been used to objectify women and turned it around to be a platform for us to claim agency over our own bodies."

But not only women can enjoy the ball's performances, DJ set and dance party, Bowen said, noting that "people of all sexes and gender expressions are officially, cordially invited."

The ball's online announcement also promises that "if you love women, we love you!" and adds that the ball is free of a cover charge but accepts donations for the club's future events.

"Trust us, this is just the beginning!" the group said.

The ball is Saturday at 10 p.m. at Brooklyn Fireproof at 119 Ingraham St.

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