A Look Back: Presidential Inaugural Ball at the Convention Center

By Punch Pulse Correspondent Lindsey Clark

After the numerous Inauguration events that I went to this weekend, not to mention the sudden drop in temperature on Monday, you would think the last thing I’d want to do last night was put on a ball gown and trek down to the Convention Center to attend a party with 20,000 other people.  Though the number of attendees was daunting and the icy cold wind was enough to make me consider wearing snow boots with my dress (the horror!!), I was actually really excited to attend one of the official Inaugural balls and therefore I was not detered by exhaustion or the blustery weather.  As someone who adores getting dressed up, there is really not a whole lot that could come between me and getting my black tie on, and I was especially looking forward to playing dress up at last night’s ball.  And I guess I mean that literally - I wore the same dress that my mom wore to an Inaugural Ball that she and my dad attended for Ronald Reagan here in DC in 1981 and not even the punishing concrete floors of Halls A, B and C of the DC Convention Center (seriously, my feet STILL hurt!) could distract me from the excitement of wearing my mom’s gown to its second Presidential Inauguration, 32 years later.

ball gown

left me today and right, my mom in the original!

For those of us blue ticket holders, the event (also known as the “public” Inaugural Ball) included performances by Alicia Keys, Brad Paisely, fun., Stevie Wonder, members of the cast of Glee, John Legend, Mana, and Soundgarden.  Shortly after fun. closed their set with “Tonight,” (which I think we all were singing louder than the band was), The President and First Lady came out and danced as Jennifer Hudson sang “Let’s Stay Together,” and afterwards Jamie Fox performed “I Can’t Stop Loving You” for the Vice President and Dr. Biden’s dance.  There was food (or at least I saw someone eating pretzels), drinks (if you were willing to stand in line for 30 minutes), and lots of great music – and rumor has it that Katy Perry, Beyonce and Usher were among the performers in the upstairs halls for the Commander-In-Chief’s Ball.  My only complaint (aside from missing Alicia Keys’ performance since she was on the early side of the performance schedule) was that coat check on the way out was a complete nightmare and I stood in line for over an hour to get my coat back, but A) I had just seen the President and First Lady dance to one of the greatest songs ever and nothing was going to put a damper on that for me and B) 20,000 people were all trying to get their coats at the same time, so no matter how well you plan and organize for that, it’s going to be a mess.  I passed the time in line by checking out dresses, counting the number of girls I saw walking around barefoot with their heels in their hands (I lost count – and interest in counting  - after 197), and inventing elaborate stories to tell my boss the next day that would explain why I was so utterly exhausted after the Inaugural weekend (turns out her stories all beat mine this morning).  After a post-ball drink, I headed home to (begrudgingly) get out of my ball gown and back into reality.  And just like that, Inauguration weekend was over.

DC is an incredibly exciting place to call home every day of the year, but I definitely feel it ten fold at times like this.  Being able to be a part of so many of the fantastic events going on over the weekend – regardless of your polictical leanings – is one of the things that makes DC such a unique city, and, even in the face of having a million extra people in town, not being able to get a cab (or your coat) to save your life, and standing around in uncomfortable shoes on concrete floors for hours just to get a 2 minute glimpse of the Commander in Chief…there’s really no where else on earth I would rather be.  Although, thank GOD the next Inauguration isn’t for another 4 years because it might take me that long to recover from this one!

 

About Lindsey Clark:
As the Punch Premiere Correspondent, Lindsey covers all things film and theater related. When not writing for Pamela’s Punch, Lindsey serves as an Executive Assistant at the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (www.pcah.gov). Aside from writing and seeing as much theater as possible, Lindsey enjoys the arts, live music, spending QT with her dog, Lincoln, and being little sister to fellow Punch Correspondant Niki Clark. Follow her on twitter @lindseykayclark. Contact Lindsey at lindsey@pamelaspunch.com.
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