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Obamas Set a New Vibe in Motion

President Obama talks with West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin III before Earth, Wind & Fire's performance at the White House Sunday night. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

White House dinners may be getting a new groove -- and it was as simple as putting in a dance floor in the East Room.

At Sunday's black-tie dinner honoring the nation's governors, the White House broke with decades of stiff tradition and invited people to dance along to the evening's entertainment: '70s rhythm and blues group Earth Wind & Fire. Instead of neat rows of chairs to watch the performance, there was a dance floor in front of the stage and six small tables scattered throughout the room, forcing guests to mingle, talk ... and boogie down.

"We were told by the social secretary the governors never dance," percussionist Ralph Johnson told our colleague Richard Prince. "They danced tonight. It was a good thing!"

Of course, it helped that the first couple are big music fans. Michelle Obama was posing for pictures during the sound check before dinner when the president walked onto the stage and met the musicians. "He is a big fan, and we're on his iPod -- we're very excited about that," Johnson said.

Later that night, there were no boring after-dinner speeches, just music. The Marine Corps Band combo played a short set, then Earth Wind & Fire took the stage and broke into "Boogie Wonderland" -- which got the president, first lady and a number of govs moving. "The whole dance floor was full," Social Secretary Desirée Rogers told us yesterday. "There was a conga line, but I missed that."

The point, she said, was to create an atmosphere that allowed guests to really mix and mingle; White House senior staffers were invited to join the after-party to make it easier to casually chat with guests. The Obamas stayed for most of the band's 50-minute set; the party broke up about 11 p.m. (Late for a White House formal dinner!)

Is this a model for future fancy soirees? Said Rogers: "We'll continue to look for ways for people to say, 'Wow!' and to have a good time."

By The Reliable Source  |  February 24, 2009; 1:04 AM ET
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3...2...1...when do we hear from Karl Rove and the other twits from the previous administration commenting that this is not a dignified activity for the White House?

Posted by: skipper7 | February 24, 2009 1:00 AM | Report abuse

Mr. President --

Artist Brad Stevens did an awesome portrait in oils of you. Have you seen it yet?

Posted by: eyemakeupneeded1 | February 24, 2009 1:13 AM | Report abuse

One thing is for sure: it's not a dignified activity for the White House. I didn't agree with a lot of Bush's policies, but at least he treated the White House with class.

Posted by: jmroto2005 | February 24, 2009 3:33 AM | Report abuse

What's not dignified, dancing? What century are you posting from? And even if it's the conga line you object to, it's still more dignified than flashing a 'Hook 'Em Horns' in the official photo with the Queen.

Posted by: johnsondeb | February 24, 2009 7:38 AM | Report abuse

The Reagans used to have dancing at their events. Anyone remember Princess Diana and John Travolta?

Posted by: cvciidc | February 24, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

fr johnsondeb:

>...And even if it's the conga line you object to, it's still more dignified than flashing a 'Hook 'Em Horns' in the official photo with the Queen.<

You are correct. I always thought the bush babies were overgrown, immature children, following in daddy's footsteps. Apples don't fall far from the trees. You NEVER heard stuff like that about Chelsea Clinton, who was raised with manners and grace, unlike the bush babies who played dodge the Secret Service person, buy drinks with FAKE ID's and get plastered WHILE UNDERAGE.

Posted by: Alex511 | February 25, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

It sounds like it was a great party!

Posted by: LittleRed1 | February 25, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

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