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Dispatch From D.C.: The Mid-Atlantic Inaugural Ball

By Karl Klockars in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 22, 2009 10:20PM

For those who have never been to an Inaugural Ball (a group which included myself up until a couple nights ago), let me make this parallel: Imagine a wedding reception for approximately 8000 people. The attendees probably don't know each other from Adam, and may only be there for one person, bride or groom. Everyone is uncomfortably dressed, underfed, and most likely overserved. And everyone leaves saying, "Well, wasn't that fun!"

The semi-reunited Grateful Dead were apparently the house band; no one would know because they didn't speak a word to the audience aside to announce that they were taking a break for the appearance of Joe Biden. After his speech, they returned for a couple more phoned-in songs and called it quits before Obama came out at a little past 11 p.m. After the Obamas danced to "At Last" and left, there was one final rush to the bars scattered throughout the convention hall, a few completely predictable wedding-reception style songs from the DJ, and thanks and good night, folks.

To continue the now-tired wedding theme, our Illinois contingency was flying solo among the East Coast-centric scene, making us the random relative no one knows, but got invited anyways. We didn't recognize one person or politician outside of a Dennis Kucinich + Wife seen leaving early. Even our hopes for a C-list appearance were dashed. The Mid-Atlantic ball was for D.C. pols, local staff members, and Jersey and New York folks, leaving us wishing that even Roland Burris would at least get lost and stumble in somehow.

The see-and-be-seen crowd was presumably at other more high-end bashes, which left us looking around for Elliot Spitzer - which reminds us, playing the game "Find the Most Hooker-looking Escort" is never so entertaining than at an Inaugural Ball. The VIP section at Mid-Atlantic appeared to be mostly schmoozing parents with terribly bored kids drinking soda and waiting to leave.

This is not to say that it wasn't an incredible occasion to be at, not by a long shot. It was the opportunity to spend a few minutes in the company of the most powerful person in the world, and the knowledge that you're attending a once-in-a-lifetime event you'll remember for life made it more than worth while. I'm just following up what Roxanne Roberts said: Eat before you leave, wear comfortable shoes and prepare for war at the post-party coat check. It all ended as so many receptions do: People dancing goofily after drinking too many $6 Heinekens.