Snowboots and Barbie Dresses at Mid-Atlantic Ball
Our colleague Holly Thomas reports:
In a chilly ballroom, the crowd at the Mid-Atlantic State Ball is warm and cuddly. Guests are dressed in everything from pink Barbie-esque confections to pantsuits to kimonos. By 6:35 p.m., two women have arrived in identical gowns. Guess they didn't check the dress registry.
The scene outside is chaotic for some ballgoers. Other guests breezed in with no problems. Others waited aimlessly in the cold for up to an hour. Overall the crowd is friendly, making quiet conversation, including one couple from Takoma Park.
Jennifer Haverkamp recounted her favorite moment of the day: "My favorite moment, after Obama was sworn in and people started leaving, there was this river of people going up 18th Street. We were like little penguins shuffling along. We could only shuffle and we went maybe a mile an hour, but everyone was in a good mood and it was amazing seeing so many people as far as you could see both ways and everyone in a good mood."
Noted a Democratic activist from New Jersey: "I wore sneakers and brought my uncomfortable shoes because I read in the Post not to worry about your shoes because no one can see you from the waist down -- but I can see people's shoes." The woman's daughter was wearing snowboots under her gown.
At 8:15, Wyclef Jean picks up an electric guitar and plays the first strain of "No Woman, No Cry." He raises his hand in his three-piece, pinstripe suit and says, "If you like Obama, let me see you put your hands in the air!" The crowd says nothing. Wyclef stars describing his day on the Mall: "I was out there in the cold this morning, bright and early...and I felt the energy at 12 o'clock." And now the crowd cheers.
Obama appears at the top of the stage at 11:22 p.m. to deafening shouts from the crowd and a sea of handheld cameras and cell phones. He reaches for Michelle's hand, gripping it between every wave to the crowd. They hold hands as long as possible until Obama begins speaking, saying, "You made possible what people said was impossible. If you can do it in an election, you can do it in this administration."
The first strains of "At Last" play, and Obama says, "Now I want to dance with somebody who's been doing everything I've been doing, except she does it in heels." They dance very slowly, very closely, almost hugging at points, and talk quietly almost the entire time.
She adjusts the train of her dress every few seconds, and Obama spins her carefully once, grinning at the crowd. He closes with, "Let's go change America," and Michelle fusses with her dress as they take their last steps off of the stage.
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