Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Infamous Youth Ball

After the momentous Inauguration Ceremony and the mishaps of our delegates on the Mall (witness the Infamous Purple Tickets), we were poised to experience the upside of Inauguration Day through attending the Youth Ball in the evening, one of the 10 "official" balls where the President would himself make an appearance.

Setting context first, the Presidential Inauguration has established a tradition for itself ever since the rise in power of the federal government in the first part of the 20th century, evolving to encompass three major activities in subsequent order:

1) Inauguration Ceremony: a swearing in of the new president at 12pm EDT, followed by the new president's inauguration speech to the citizenry
2) Inauguration Parade: a triumphant march from the Capitol Building to the White House (incidentally moving day for the new President), followed by a processional of marching bands, troupes, and delegations
3) Inauguration Balls: a series of elegant soirees (usually black tie) that celebrate the ascendancy of the new presidency and mark a new era in Washington DC

Presuming to have golden tickets, we ventured off into the frigid evening to join the festivities of the MTV crowd and celebrity-rama that was the Youth Ball. This was one of the new events ushered in by President Obama to recognize the huge support of the younger generation (18-35) in his campaign election. Upon arrival, we realized that our golden tickets were not so golden as we joined a line 1,000 deep in the biting cold. Another 45 minutes later, we were able to thaw our feet inside the welcome tent that held the metal detectors and screening checkpoint.

A lesson learned from inauguration activities - expect lines for every conceivable activity. Finding the ballroom (20 minutes), checking the coat (15 minutes), getting food at the buffet (10 minutes), realizing that the entertainment is happening in a wholly separate auditorium (15 minutes), jamming into a crush of people with the hope of actually seeing Kid Rock and Kanye West perform live (45 minutes), feeling that inevitable disappointment to understand that the closest nearly all of the revelers would get to both acts and the President and First Lady would be from the various monitors around the waiting areas and other ballroom (45 minutes), gathering the belongings and finding the path back out of the building after the President's dance with his wife (15 minutes), and not feeling so bad after walking out of the venue to see that the line outside to get in to the ball was almost as long as you left it nearly 4 hours earlier.

We did get a kick out of reading about all those celebrities we supposedly partied with in the news: Demi Moore & Ashton Kutcher, Usher, and Fall Out Boy to name a few that strangely missed us in the revelry. We did get a chance to come across Rosario Dawson as her security detail found her a path past the barricades into the main event ballroom, all the while being accosted by a bitter Obama campaign staffer who was sharing her feelings of ingratitude for not finding herself across the barricades as well. No doubt there were hard feelings for the $75 tickets and $10 martinis to boot, but sometimes those are the breaks, I suppose.

A final lesson learned from inauguration activities - just pretend like it is New Year's Eve, expect very little, and give yourself a chance to be surprised. We'll have to wait another four years to apply these inauguration lessons. In the meantime, we will have to enjoy the fact that President Obama is in the same building but on a TV monitor instead of in the flesh.

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