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Memphi Mid-Winter Ball

The British Invasion

Story by Suzanne Thompson Cozza | Photos by Don Perry

The Mystic Society of the Memphi held its Mid-Winter Ball at Memphis Country Club. A string quartet from Memphis Symphony Orchestra played as guests walked through a reception line where they were greeted by Memphi’s host couples. The British Invasion was the 2017 theme, a hint of which was evident to guests before they entered the club, as two gentlemen attired as Queen’s Foot Guards, complete with tall, black bearskin hats, stood outside the front doors and stoically opened them.

The ballroom was swathed in red, white and blue chiffon, which was draped from the center of the room to its four corners, completely covering the ceiling. General chairpersons Steve and Pam Guinn chose the theme, which was executed to perfection from the club’s décor to the featured band, “Liverpool, a Beatles Tribute Band.”

“Memphis Country Club has been transformed into something spectacular,” said Steve Guinn during his opening comments as he thanked the decorating committee. Memphi members, whose tuxedos were accented with signature green sashes and included the 2017 King of Carnival Edward Dobbs, circulated among guests before the presentation of royalty began.

Green satin ribbons marked an aisle in the center of the ballroom, which was lined with chairs to give the families of Memphi royalty front row seats at the presentation ceremony. The identity of the duchesses is held in secret until their presentation at the Mid-Winter Ball. The queen of Memphi and the Ouro, or king, are presented at the Crown and Septre Ball, the most formal of all Carnival Memphis events, held in June annually. Before the presentation of the six duchesses, each escorted by her husband-duke, replicas of the gates of Buckinghan Palace swung open.

This year’s duchesses and their escorts are: Anneliese and Will Watts, Kelly Jo and Mitch Graves, Melissa and Tim Adams, Catherine and Ricky Harris, Joan and Mike Heflin and Kathryn and Jim Gilliland. Each duchess, dressed in a plum-colored sleeveless gown with a rhinestone-trimmed, empire waistband, entered the room on the arm of her duke, and they danced down the center of the ballroom to a Beatles tune.

At the end of the ballroom, each duchess stepped onto a platform, where she twirled and curtsied, before dancing back to the front of the room.  After the presentation, guests took their seats for dinner. The duchesses and dukes were seated on a dais at the center of the dining room, where red velvet curtains served as a backdrop. Dinner consisted of lobster bisque, followed by an entrée of braised beef short ribs served with horseradish mashed potatoes, along with roasted Brussels sprouts and crispy leeks. A dessert of pear crème brûlée with hazelnut biscotti finished the meal.

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