If you’ve had a 5th grader go through the Wellesley schools, then you surely recall that 9-week period in the fall where the girls donned party dresses and white gloves, the boys put on jackets and ties, and they all trouped over to the Italo-American club and learned the basics of ballroom dancing and social etiquette. Maybe you were even a “Patroness,” as the parent chaperones have always been called. You most certainly have the pictures to prove your kids did actually dress up.
We’ve been alerted to a bit of confusion over classes going forward now that Don Mason, the owner of Wellesley Assemblies, passed away in December 2016 at age 86. Mason according to a trust document forwarded to The Swellesley Report by Mason’s nephew, Douglas Trudeau, arranged for the dance class operating in Weston and an amount of money to go to his long-time friend and business associate Susan Cole. The document specified that the two dance classes operating in Wellesley were to go to Trudeau. Trudeau is running Wellesley Assemblies next fall at the Wellesley Village Church in Wellesley Square. Cole is running Boston Assemblies next fall at the Italo-American Club.
One Wellesley. Two etiquette/dance class options for 5th graders.
According to Cole in an email to parents from her company Boston Assemblies, “I have heard from a number of you that you have received invitations to a social dance class operating as ‘Wellesley Assemblies.’ …This entity, ‘Wellesley Assemblies,’ is advertising itself as operating classes at the Italo-American Club on the same dates as Boston Assemblies’ classes are scheduled for the fall. We, Boston Assemblies have a binding contract to host our program, at the Italo-American Club for the fall season. Please be aware that…Wellesley Assemblies entity is [not] associated with Boston Assemblies. By advertising these classes, ‘Wellesley Assemblies’ has created confusion which I hope to dispel with this email” (bold wording is not The Swellesley Report’s).
Cole says that Mason was “… a wonderful friend and companion. We worked together for over thirty years in Wellesley.” The two put together and fine-tuned the curriculum for the class, making it a fun and safe environment in which kids could learn some of the social niceties. It had been, for both of them, their lives and their livelihoods.
Trudeau says that with his Wellesley Assemblies class at its Village Church location next fall he is simply “…carrying on the tradition under my uncle’s wishes.” He says he currently has over 200 students signed up.
I also spoke with a Patroness, Rebecca Burstein, who told me that “Doug Trudeau had reached out to all the PTOs, introduced himself, and said that he was taking over his uncle’s business.” She found him personable and that his manner pretty much squared with her idea of how someone who teaches etiquette should conduct himself. Based on communications with him, she says that the Patronesses decided to support Trudeau and Wellesley Assemblies. The Wellesley Public Schools are not involved in the classes.
Trudeau had sent out an email of his own in which he said “I am thrilled and excited to be taking over for my uncle to carry on a legacy that he started. I have very big dance shoes to fill, but I was taught by the best…and will do all I can to ensure the integrity of the program that he worked for over 50 years to build remains strong and intact. After all, I know he’ll be watching over me and all of your children.”
As one parent said, “Who knew there would be so many Social Dancing options?”
As far as I know, Doug Trudeau has been teaching the Wellesley classes for years, and it was long ago settled by Don Mason and Susan Cole that his nephew Doug would continue to teach the Wellesley classes, pursuant to their agreement. A number of people are quite surprised and perplexed that she is advertising otherwise. Such a shame, and so soon after Don Mason’s death that this had to happen.