As D.C. continues in this state of Obama-euphoria, many people are suffering from a new kind of epidemic, which I’m dubbing Ball Fatigue. “I just want him to be president already,” said a middle-aged African-American man who had come all the way from St. Louis. The man was coming home from an event called Odyssey Ball.
The sad, obvious truth is: inaugural balls are hype. Each one is exactly like the next.
Last night we sneaked into the much-hyped up Green Ball, where we watched Al Gore introduce “a woman he loves” (Melissa Etheridge, who gave a soulful performance) and Will-i-am from the Black Eyed Peas. Who cares that the banquet hall — held at the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Museum — was lit up with solor-powered lighting? Do you really want to party with people who could afford $600 a ticket? No offense to the wealthy, but when the music is good, you wish that at least one person would be courageous enough to dance.
A woman who attended an Inaugural “Hip-Hop Ball” didn’t have such a good time either:
“This was the first hip hop ball ever, and people here were participating for the first time,” said Zakiya Harris of Oakland California. A lot of people have never been part of these balls and extravaganzas.” Harris called the Hip-Hop Ball the “most uninspirational ball ever… Everyone was just standing around, not dancing, dressed in clothing too tight and too short and too cute, like lightweight video ho stuff. We waited so long till the end of Bush, but instead of redefining, we just emulate.”
The African Diaspora Ball, organized by African immigrants, did have some breathtaking singing from the Benin musician (now relocated to Park Slope) Angelique Kidjo. But for every five minutes of music, the audience endured almost three hours of speeches in which the organizers of the ball congratulated one another for putting the ball together in “just seven weeks.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 20, 2009