I was fortunate to have a ticket to the hottest party in town – The US Presidential Inaugural Ball. For his first inauguration in 2009 Barack Obama attended ten official balls. Now 4 years later, reflecting the tough economic climate for many Americans, the number of official balls was cut to two. They were both held at the Washington DC Convention Centre.
The Inaugural Ball was split across two massive halls on different levels, one just for ‘Friends and Family’ and included donors to Obama’s re-election campaign. The Commander in Chief’s Inaugural Ball was for active service men, women and their spouses. Many of the musical performers shuttled between the two balls.
I attended the Inaugural Ball, which with no chairs or tables to sit at and a concrete floor first looked a bit like an empty aircraft hanger. However, it soon became more glamorous as it filled up with guest dressed in their finest black tie attire. In the days leading up to the Ball extra supplies of Spanx were delivered to a nearby luxury department store, which had sold out before the 2009 inaugural balls. Outfits varied but most women opted for full-length gowns, with men in tuxedos or military uniform.
Guests were mainly Obama supporters who had travelled across the country to be there and Washingtonians with the right connections to get their hands on a ticket. A $60 dollar ticket to the Inaugural Ball included entertainment, but not drinks. Unlike the ‘Friends and Family’ section upstairs, which had an all night open bar and was fully catered. In the main hall food was limited to bar snacks, such as salted pretzels and cheese crackers. There were multiple bars serving champagne, wine, beer and spirits, including American themed vodka.
Outside the hall there were stands selling official inauguration merchandise including badges, T-shirts and even commemorative shot glasses.
The performances were the focus of the Ball with an impressive line up which included Alicia Keys, John Legend, Glee’s Amber Riley [above] and Darren Criss, Jamie Foxx and Stevie Wonder. Katy Perry, Usher and Smokey Robinson played in the ‘Friends and Family’ section of the Ball. New York band Fun played 'We Are Young' and the crowd went wild, singing the chorus in union.
Then came the most eagerly anticipated moment of the evening, the President and First Ladies’ dance. The atmosphere in the room was electric as Barack and Michelle danced together on stage while Jennifer Hudson sung Al Green’s 'Let's Stay Together'. There was no published set times for the performances so people dashed across the floor from the multiple bars to get a glimpse of the couple on stage.
Michelle Obama, who wore a red halter-neck designed by Jason Wu, was as popular as her husband amongst the crowd. Leslie, 25, from New Jersey said, “The President and First Lady always look gorgeous when dancing together, and Michelle Obama always turns heads no matter what she's wearing, I loved her new haircut and the red dress.”
In-between live acts D-Nice, the White House’s own resident DJ, played lots of the Obama’s favorite Motown to keep everyone in the party mood. The Ball ended at around midnight and in below-freezing temperatures everyone, some carrying their heels, piled out of the Convention Centre onto the street. For select VIPs it was straight on the White House for a private after party with the Obama’s that carried on into the small hours.
by Olivia Feld