Following Tuesday’s swearing-in and inaugural parade was the Western States Inaugural Ball, one of the 10 official balls honoring the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States.

The Western Inaugural Ball was one of the four official regional balls held in D.C. on January 20. Other balls included the Commander in Chief Ball honoring the military; a Youth Ball that was broadcast on MTV featuring performances by Kanye West, Kid Rock and Fall Out Boy; and the first-ever Neighborhood Ball that was meant to be affordable for the public with tickets priced at just $25.

At the Western Ball, celebrities including director Ron Howard and supermodel Tyra Banks rubbed elbows with cowboys and danced salsa alongside politicians. The crowded room was abuzz with excitement as everyone waited for the president and first lady to make an appearance.

Held in one of the many cavernous ballrooms of the Washington Convention Center, the ball did not initially offer much entertainment to help the anxious crowd pass the time before the Obamas arrived. A cover band played 80s hits at one end of the room and lines for cocktails stretched from wall to wall. The room was surprisingly devoid of tables, so exhausted guests sat on the floor in their gowns and tuxedos, preparing themselves for the long wait ahead of them.

The arrival of Latin crooner Marc Anthony brought much-needed rejuvenation to the crowd. Anthony’s energy was contagious as he ran across the small stage, inciting the crowd to get up and dance as he sang.

“You know, it’s okay to dance,” he said repeatedly.

Despite exhaustion, the audience was happy to sing along with Anthony. The surprise of the evening was when he brought his wife, Jennifer Lopez, a definite crowd pleaser, onto the stage. Crushing rumors about their marriage being on the rocks, Lopez strutted across the stage and danced with her husband during a duet in Spanish, ending the number with a kiss.

“Man, she’s cute,” Anthony said.

The duet brought Anthony’s performance to an end and the temporarily refreshed crowd was once again running low on energy.

Around 11 p.m., Vice President Biden and wife Jill finally came onstage.

Biden delivered a brief speech before taking to the dance floor.

“Now you’re all going to see how I can’t dance,” he said.

He and his wife Jill proceeded to dance to “Have I Told You Lately (That I Love You),” and then made a quick exit in order to make their way to the other official balls which they were expected to attend.

Following Biden’s exit, the cover band continued to play 80s hits, but anticipation was mounting as it neared midnight, and the “O-BA-MA” chanting only got louder.

Finally, some time before 12 a.m., Obama and the first lady made their entrance. The crowd transformed into a sea of flashbulbs and the roars were deafening.

Obama spoke about the great journey on which the nation is about to embark, saying that it will take the help of all Americans to accomplish his new goals for the country.

“An Obama administration will make government work, but we’re not going to be able to do it by ourselves, we’re going to need you, and so this is not the end, this is the beginning,” he said. “And if we have the same kind of mobilization, the same kind of willingness to go all out on behalf of what we value most, then I am absolutely convinced we have better days ahead.”

After his brief address to the crowd, Obama invited his wife onto the stage to dance.

“Now I would like to dance with the person . who has done everything I do, except she does it in heels; the first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama,” he said.

The first couple then danced to “At Last.” When the band stopped, Obama cut across the stage and added one last remark before leaving the center for another ball.

“Let’s go change America,” he said.

Check out The Hoya’s city blog, Outside the Gates, for more inauguration recaps and student experiences.

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