The 57th Presidential inauguration has come and gone, and hopefully so too have the traffic jams, tourists and massive delays. Despite the inconveniences inauguration brings, the weekend also means patriotism, special events and lots of celebration, sometimes in the form of a ball.
While attending a ball – in the traditional sense of the word – is a rarity in this day and age, there was no shortage of formal gatherings throughout the weekend. The balls filled D.C.-area museums, conventions centers, hotels and the occasional art gallery. In the case of the North Carolina Society of Washington, D.C. Inaugural Ball – one of the balls I attended – the chosen venue was a bit sportier. The Nationals Ballpark to be exact.
If there’s one benefit to having an event at a sporting venue, it’s quick entry and exit. We were swept indoors to get our tickets checked with barley a line in sight. I hadn’t event smoothed out my gown and coat after departing our taxi before we were indoors.
After getting our tickets checked we were off to what they called a VIP experience. While we weren’t treated to a “VIP” experience necessarily, we were able to kick off the night in a really fun way. After cocktails in the Nationals Clubhouse – the home team’s wood-paneled locker room complete with cocktails and light hors d’oeuvres – we had our go in the batting cages.
Swinging away in a gown may make you cringe, but it was beyond fun. One item of note many women will appreciate – on the way to the batting area there was a rubberized coating on the floor for cleats. Well, it felt like a dream on my high heel-clad toes. Flooring designed for athletes that doubles as perfection for stilettos. Who’d a thought.
The food was slightly above average, although I did have to beg the caterer for an extra slice of the beef. They would have received higher praise for the food but I was too disappointed by their dessert offering. A cookie. On a plate. As it grew later, they had an offering of late night snacks – including ballpark staples of hot dogs, nachos and cracker jacks.
They also had a newbie bartender – poor thing – who was pouring whiskey in place of scotch and scotch in place of bourbon. Probably not the right person to work an event with southerners in attendance.
Despite the casual setting, the ball was complete with everything you’d expect from a party in Washington. Politicos huddled in corners, staffers elbow to elbow at the bar and members of Congress making rounds to thank their supporters. Oh, and a buffet.
It felt like just another event in D.C. – albeit with partygoers more dressed up. For an inaugural ball, I couldn’t help but want more.
It has been said that things got somewhat out of hand at Andrew Jackson’s inaugural party in 1829. Attendees celebrated perhaps a bit too hard at the White House, breaking thousands of dollars worth of china. They were so out of hand, Jackson was forced to flee to Virginia for the night. The only way they could get everyone to leave? The staff dragged vats of punch out on the lawn.
Did I want to be lured out of the ballpark with tubs of bourbon? No. But it would have made for a great story.