Before you start reading "Dread South", here are a few vocab words that you should know:
A "debutante" is a young lady from an aristocratic family who is officially ready to start dating.
The word comes from "debut", which means "first performance". In the old days, young ladies between the ages of 16 and 21 would have a "debut". This was essentially a big party to announce to the world that the young woman was now officially ready to start dating. Men would then come "courting" which means that they would visit, with the goal being eventual marriage.
Every year, rich families would host parties and balls to facilitate the courtship of their daughters and sons. These balls were sometimes called "cotillions". A cotillion is basically a formal dance for rich white Southerners who are trying to find good matches for their daughters and sons.
A debutante is a young lady who is ready to start dating.