Ballin’ at the Inauguration, or, Stevie for president

January 24, 2013

At first, when I woke up the morning after the Inaugural Ball, I thought the cheeky bloggers over at Buzzfeed had stolen my angle for this Lez’hur Ledger. There it was at the top of my morning Twitter feed: “The Inaugural Ball Was Just Like Prom.”

In a way, they’ve got a point. There certainly were cheesy photo opportunities, dresses, tuxedos, and an impressive amount of awkward guys positioning themselves around the outside of the dance floor, eyeing the younger women with the same expression I assume non-vegetarians usually reserve for an extra-rare fillet.

But, the more I thought about it, the less this ball had in common with my prom, because my prom was wild. We rented out a trolley to get there, and by the end of the first 10 minutes inside I learned daggering is not only a murder technique but also a euphemism for sexy Caribbean dancing / the most intense cardio of your life. One of my friends became a minor YouTube sensation after he was the only one who could handle Sharay’s booty, and another ate a magic brownie and peed himself on the floor. In a phrase, everyone came to get down.

That wasn’t really like my experience Monday night.

We got in a cab around 7. After 40 minutes of creeping through traffic, we got out in Foggy Bottom because it was quicker to walk. We hoofed it like 10 blocks to the Convention Center. I discovered the security was porous enough that I could have brought my flask, and proceeded crestfallen but undeterred.

There was some country star on stage when we got down to the floor. “How drunk are you?” he yelled. No one said shit. I decided it was time to fix that. We ended up stealing those first beverages (apparently you needed a drink ticket). I realized we were probably the youngest people there.

Then, I got the first thrill of the night. Erin Burnett, that hottie brunette CNN anchor, was there with a stuffier-than-usual Piers Morgan. They were up off the ground in a media booth chatting, backs to the stage. I decided to inject a bit of absurdity.

“MARRY ME ERIN BURNETT!” I called. She didn’t answer because she was on TV or something, but I did get a swift jab in the ribs from my date. Not as bad though as the guy next to me when he yelled “Yeah! Show your titties!” I guessed some people were drunk after all.

Obama arrived at around 9:30 unannounced. That’s when the irony of being at the ball really hit home: I didn’t vote for the guy. But whatever. Michelle’s hot and Jennifer Hudson can belt.

There was really only one reason I wanted to be there, anyway: STEVIE WONDER. And ohmygod it was worth every ounce of bullshit that night. We sang every lyric, I broke out the white-boy dance moves, we pushed through the crowd as if it were 9:30 Club. Problem was, we were pretty much the only ones; the people there were downright robotic. An act would come on, they’d all raise their phones to snap a pic, and then look down to Instagrind it. No one thought my screams of “STEVIE FOR PRESIDENT” or “FUCK THE LORD, PRAISE STEVIE” were funny, and they seemed annoyed that anyone would sing along with “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” But by this point I was in ecstatics and didn’t care.

We decided to  push up to the front for the next act. It was my man John Legend, and he did a version of “Redemption Song” that tore your heart right out of your chest. Again, the crowd wasn’t moving, and my ass-shaking to “Green Light” inevitably hit some of them. No one had the nerve to say anything though until the Bidens appeared. Jamie Foxx came out to serenade them with a divine interpretation of “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” I was trying to have a nice slow dance with my girl, until this potato-shaped lady next to us said, “Um, excuse me, but you just elbowed me in the neck.”

If I’d had any balls, I would have been like, “Oh yeah, lady? What’s your wrinkly ass doing in the third row then?” But I didn’t. Instead, Tiffany “accidentally” whipped the hag with her hair and she waddled off.

I don’t know why, but everyone seemed to have it in their heads that Beyoncé was going to come on. Maybe she played for the “real” ball upstairs (I think they got Katy Perry too). But the headliners, Soundgarden, might as well have been a fire for how quickly the women in heels made for the doors when they came out.

At first, I was a bit miffed no one else wanted to enjoy themselves at the ball. But, I realize who these people are: stuffy, District pseudo-socialites, probably more miffed there weren’t famous people to shmooze than happy to see a god in a man’s body play music (Stevie, duh). They probably all had work at 9 the next morning, and they partied like it. But, no matter. No one was there to tell me and Tiff not to have a good time, and we sure did. I guess in that way, it was kind of like prom—just about as fun as you wanted to make it. And at least this time, the grumpy adults who refused to dance couldn’t tell me and my date we were cuttin’ the rug too deep.

Gavin Bade
Gavin Bade is a former Editor in Chief of The Georgetown Voice

Read More

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments