The Walter E. Washington Convention Center is very large. It has three stories and six rooms. The two balls, the Commander in Chief Ball and the Inaugural Ball were both in the same building at roughly the same time. The building has six rooms. The CICB, with 5,000 attendees, was in one room and started about an hour earlier than the IB, which was in all of the five other rooms with 35,000 (!) attendees.
The CICB was in a room on the first floor and the IB was split between three rooms on the second floor and the two rooms on the top floor. In both cases the multiple rooms were opened to be one big room.
I don’t know what I was thinking about how the ball would actually be run. You’d think that both of us would realize that dinner would not be a sit-down affair. Scott and I both worked on Capitol Hill for eight years. You don’t feed 35,000 people sitting down, requiring all those waiters and table cloths and dishes. No, you do several buffet lines of rather cheap food and no chairs. Since we had eaten those sandwiches, we weren’t hungry. I did scope out the food just in case, but nothing appealed to me. That turned out to be a good thing, I guess, as it disappeared rapidly.
There was an open bar, quite large, in the back of the room. The lines were about six people deep all the time. Not actually too bad, really, since all the entertainment was displayed on two or three projection screens.
There were several entertainers on the list for the evening, but we didn’t see them all. Not all of them performed just for our ball. Some were only in the Commander in Chiefs Ball, such as Stevie Wonder and Jennifer Hudson.
For the IB, the acts seemed to alternate between locations and were shown on the projection screens so that you didn’t miss any of them, at least between the two big rooms of the IB. We didn’t get any of the entertainment from the CICB.
We were on the top floor and got to see Smokey Robinson, Katy Perry, Black Violin, Usher, and at least a couple of others live (I don’t know the names). On screen we saw Far East Movement and Alycia Keys. There may have been a couple others from the other room that I don’t remember.
When it came time for the POTUS and FLOTUS to appear, they appeared to us on screen. At the time, I thought they were downstairs on the second floor but in person for the IB and they were. I fully expected them to make a personal appearance to our section and I was quite disappointed when that didn’t happen. A security guy that I asked about it said that the Pres had shown up at the far end of the room. Not bloody likely. Today I found out they went home about 10:30 p.m. I would have too had I known!
So there you go, “expectation is premeditated disappointment.” But I’m not that much of a partier and staying up late and dressing up and all that. I was really hoping to see them live. ‘Twas not to be.
All in all we were standing or walking for five hours with no sitting down.
I did stand in line to get water from the bar and got two half-sized bottles of water the first time, but they were out of water the second time. I got a can of Coke and bottle of Minute Maid cran-raspberry juice the second time.
Still more. Link to Part Five: https://coreconnexxions.wordpress.com/2013/01/22/black-tie-execution-in-all-of-its-meanings-inaugural-ball-pt-five/