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Read this: State dinner ramp-up, Emily Miller, "Find My Family," Michael Jackson

State dinner flashback: This Nov. 4, 1971, photo shows President and Mrs. Richard M. Nixon, at left, and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India standing with performers from the New York City Ballet in the East Room of the White House. (AP Photo)

Good afternoon, everyone. Roughly 30 hours left before Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh joins President Barack Obama at the first state dinner of his presidency.

And, of course, everything at a state dinner is freighted with underlying significance. Will the food include vegetables from the White House's garden? What will First Lady Michelle Obama wear? And what will it all mean?

Robin Givhan has another question: How will the Obamas -- who trumpet the common man (and woman) -- put their mark on state dinners, typically elite, exclusive affairs? Remember back in February, when White House Social Secretary Desirée Rogers suggested holding a sweepstakes, so average Americans could win a seat at a state dinner? Givhan asks: "Did we miss the Twitter alert on some secret lotto?"

Tomorrow night's dinner will be held in a tent on the White House lawn:

As for the White House, a spokesperson says the tent is a matter of practicality. It allows the Obamas to accommodate more people. And more people is a good thing because that is a reflection of the administration's desire to make the White House feel more accessible.
Four hundred people down. Only 304,059,324 more Americans to go.

Elsewhere in today's Style section: Howard Kurtz profiles Emily Miller, whose story is so only-in-Washington-esque that we don't have room to begin to explain it here. Tom Shales on ABC's newest reality show, "Find My Family." And the very latest Michael Jackson news! His white glove sells at auction for $350,000; he's still breaking records at awards shows, five months after his death.

Tips? Sightings? E-mail us: And follow us on Twitter: @ReliableSource.

By The Reliable Source  |  November 23, 2009; 12:12 PM ET
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"...performers from the New York City Ballet..."

I'm sure that's Edward Villella.

Posted by: Epigon | November 23, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I am from India. I am now in Virginia on a private visit, as my children are USA citizens. can some one tell me how to get aticket for tonight's state dinner? I am aretired person and dont know much of these things. Heard President Obama also invites some common people..

Posted by: veeraswamiv | November 24, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

I'm afraid it doesn't work that way, veeraswamiv. You can't buy tickets for the dinner. You must be invited.

Posted by: ndgirl | November 24, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

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