George Cassutto's Inaugural Documents Page

A map of the DC metro system.

A diagram of the capitol grounds, showing the green standing area
on the South side.

A diagram of the capitol grounds, showing the green standing area on the South side.

A ticket to the DC Inaugural Ball.

Tips On Surviving the Inaugural Ball

Date: Mon, 20 Jan 1997 09:25:51 -0500 (EST)
From: Name withheld
To: Cassutto - George <georgec@UMD5.UMD.EDU>
Subject: Re: Inauguration Night Gitters

   Four years ago I went to the MD/D.C./VA ball at Union Station. We'll
get to dress length in a moment. There are some things you need to know
about the mechanics of these things.
1.  Get there EARLY. You will have to stand in line while tickets are
checked. The object is to be one of the first people inside. I recommend,
if memory serves, about 45 min.- 1 hour.
2.  When you get inside, check your outerwear, grab a drink or two, and
PLANT YOURSELF IN FRONT OF THE STAGE (Preferably not directly in front of
a speaker). If you can get near one of the metal standards that support
the velvet rope to keep the crowd back, so much the better. You can wrap
one leg around it and hold onto the top, so you can't be moved. Believe
me. people will try to move you. Stand your ground. Keep your elbows out
and stake your space a la John Wayne. Expect the rudest behavior you have
ever seen. 
3. The object is to stand there until the president and vice president and
their wives arrive, otherwise, you won't see them, or worse, the fire
marshalls can try to throw you out of the ballroom because it is too
crowded. I hope you like or learn to like whatever band is playing your
ball. I was in front of a speaker, and Clinton did not show up until 11
p.m. I cannot listen to Manhatten Transfer anymore.
4. Be prepared for uncomfortable conditions. Aside from the pushing and
shoving, there is no food, it gets very hot and airless (another reason to
get in front-there is an air pocket surrounding the stage), and if you are
in the middle, you may have to pass the faintees over your head to get
them out. I'm telling you, no one will move.
5. Also, get used to staring at the secret service personnel. They will be
staring at you.
   After the president comes and goes, you can move around, go to the
restroom, dance, or whatever. I'd almost suggest taking a book for the
waiting part, but you're going to need all your concentration and stamina
just to stay in place. Sorry, those are the rules. I didn't make them up,
and everyone who goes either knows them or figures them out pretty
  So, about the dress. Yes, the long gown is what most women wear, however
it's quite possible that she will be seen only from the waist up for at
least half the evening, it doesn't really matter. My recommendation is
don't spend a lot of money on this. It is not that kind of ball. But do
have fun. It is definitely worth going to once.

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