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Photos: Balls

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  1. Night to celebrate

    President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama celebrate during the first inaugural ball of the evening, the Neighborhood Ball, held in Washington on Tuesday. They look rested here, but there were nine more balls to twirl through before the new First Couple could get any sleep. (Tim Sloan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. First dance of a new life

    At each of the 10 balls, the first couple began by dancing to the Etta James' classic, "At Last." At the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball, the song was sung by Beyonce Knowles. (Rick Wilking / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Capturing the night

    Dr. Ruth Westheimer, center, watches the president and first lady dance at the Western Inaugural Ball. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Center stage

    Vice President Joe Biden dances with his wife Jill at the Commander-in-Chief ball, which honors the country's active duty and reserve military personnel. The ball was broadcast to service personnel around the world. (Gerald Herbert / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Leo came from London

    Actor Leonardo DiCaprio speaks during the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball. The actor had dashed to D.C. from London, where on Monday he was attending the U.K. premiere for his latest movie, "Revolutionary Road." (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Get down, Mister President

    After an initial slow dance with his wife, right, President Barack Obama loosens up and shows a little fancy footworkat the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball. "You could tell that’s a black president from the way he was moving," comedian Jamie Foxx joked. (Jason Reed / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Lighting up the night

    Singer will.i.am of the Black-Eyes Peas performs at the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball in Washington. He's written multiple songs supporting Obama. (Alex Brandon / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Cameras flashing

    The crowd tries to snap photos of President Barack Obama as he speaks at the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball. The president, who himself once worked as a neighborhood organizer, praised the first-ever event. "This campaign was organized neighborhood by neighborhood," he said. "This ball is the one which captures best, I think, the spirit of this campaign." (Rick Wilking / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Aloha!

    The President and first lady flash smiles while dancing at the Obama Home States Ball, celebrating the new president's childhood in Hawaii and adulthood in Illinois. "Hello everybody. Aloha! What's going on?" said the new president. (Charlie Neibergall / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Star power

    The stars came out in droves to perform at the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball, including Stevie Wonder and Sting. (Stan Honda / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Blaze of purple glory

    Grammy-winning singer Mary J. Blige was among the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball performers. (Alex Brandon / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Vice President's dance

    Vice-President Joe Biden dances with his wife Jill Biden at the Mid-Atlantic Inaugural Ball at the Washington Convention Center. (David Mcnew / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Changing partners

    At the Commander in Chief's Ball, President Obama danced with Army Sgt. Margaret Herrera, while Michelle Obama took a spin with Marine Sgt. Eliidio Guillen. Herrera was so overcome by emotion that she wept while dancing with the new president. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Take five

    Adam Levine, lead singer of the band Maroon 5, had the audience rocking during the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. All danced out

    Inaugural ball-goers rest on the steps of the Washington Convention Center at the end of a night that featured ten inaugural balls celebrating the swearing-in of President Barack Obama. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Stars come out

    Mariah Carey sings her song "Hero" at the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball. She earlier said her song is "fitting for (Obama). It's appropriate." (Alex Brandon / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. The First Couple

    President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama dance during the Eastern Regional Inaugural Ball at Union Station early on Jan. 21. Michelle Obama's dress is by 26-year-old designer Jason Wu. The full-skirted white gown features a strap across her right shoulder, a ruched bodice, fluffy appliques and sparkly beading. After the evening's events, it will be donated to the Smithsonian, as is tradition for inaugural gowns. (Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. 83598448
    Tim Sloan / AFP - Getty Images
    Above: Slideshow (17) Presidential party - Balls
  2. Barack Obama,  Michelle OBama, oe Biden, Jill Biden
    Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP
    Slideshow (14) Presidential party - Parade
  3. Image: National Mall
    Matt Rourke / AP
    Slideshow (27) Presidential party - Swearing in
updated 1/21/2009 12:15:29 PM ET 2009-01-21T17:15:29

"At Last" may have been just what President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle were thinking Tuesday night as they glided through their first inaugural dance to the Etta James classic.

The Obamas were the star attraction at the 10 inaugural celebrations they attended into the early hours of Wednesday. The celebrations marked the end of a long day of formal inaugural events and the two-year campaign that put them in the White House.

The president pulled his wife close and they danced a slow, dignified two-step while, offstage, Beyonce sang. The president spun first lady Michelle Obama once in a half-turn.

Obama cut loose in a faster groove a few minutes later, as Shakira, Mary J. Blige, Faith Hill and Mariah Carey sang along with Stevie Wonder to his "Signed, Sealed, Delivered." The song was played at nearly all of Obama's rallies throughout the campaign.

"You could tell that's a black president from the way he was moving," comedian Jamie Foxx joked following the dance.

The president wore white tie, while Michelle shimmered in a white, one-shouldered, floor-length gown. It was embellished from top to bottom with white floral details and made by 26-year-old New York designer Jason Wu.

"First of all, how good looking is my wife?" Obama asked the crowd of celebrities and supporters.

Dancing their way through the balls
At the Obama Home States ball, the president pulled the first lady much closer than he did on their first dance. At one point, he wrapped both arms around her waist and locked his fingers together at the small of her back.

"Hello, everybody. Aloha. What's going on?" Obama said in the dialects of the Hawaii and Illinois contingents, saying they reflected his roots. "So many of you got involved not just in our campaign but in our lives."

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden each saluted the nation's military men and women at the Commander in Chief Ball via satellite. Biden said he wasn't looking forward to his moment in the spotlight — the dancing, that is.

"The thing that frightens me the most (is) I'm going to have to stand in that circle and dance in a minute." At that, he laughed and did a quick sign of the cross.

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The Obamas were more enthusiastic, splitting up to dance with Marine Sgt. Elidio Guillen of Madera, Calif. — who was shorter than dance partner Michelle — and Army Sgt. Margaret H. Herrera of San Antonio, Texas, who cried in the president's arms.

Despite the formal attire and celebrity entertainment, balls aren't overly fancy affairs. Lines often are long to get in, go to the bathroom or check your coat, and the food is heavy on vegetables with dip and cheese cubes.

In a sign, perhaps, of the tough economic times, guests who already paid anywhere from $75 for a ticket to thousands more for a package deal had to buy their own drinks served in small plastic cups. Beer went for $6, cocktails for $9 and champagne for $12.

People were standing in line outside Union Station to get into the Eastern States Ball an hour and a half after it started. Because of very limited seating at the Western ball, a number of attendees in long gowns and fancy dress plopped cross-legged on the floor.

"This is what happens in a down economy. No chairs, no highboys — it's the floor and plastic cups," commented ballgoer Brig Lawson, 38, of Las Vegas.

‘He’s had a long day’
Director Ron Howard said he sympathized with the long day Obama was having.

"I feel bad for him," Howard said in an interview with The Associated Press at the Western Ball. "He's had a long day and now he has to do seven dances. This has got to be the grueling part for the first family."

At the Obama Home States ball, the dance floor was dominated by two little girls who skipped and twirled in matching red dresses while the grown-ups stood still, crowded around the stage waiting for Obama to appear.

Singer Sheryl Crow, doing a sound check for the Midwestern Ball, said she was homesick.

"I have not seen my child in four days. I'm miserable," she told her band between songs.

But there was still plenty of fun to be had at the official balls and dozens of other parties around Washington.

Crow was greeted by a cheering crowd later for her appropriate hit, "A Change Would Do You Good." When hip-hop star Wyclef Jean asked the men at the Mid-Atlantic Ball to pull off their tuxedo jackets and swing them in the air to show their support for Barack Obama, thousands did.

At the Youth Ball, Kid Rock belted out songs as well-dressed 20-somethings mingled about. One of them walked up to a bartender, gave him a high five and said, "Barack Obama is president!"

The Obamas, following Kid Rock and Kanye West, got the real rock-star reception and launched into something of an awkward dance, laughing as they swayed. When they were done, the president grabbed a mic and said, "That's what's called old school."

At the Midwestern Ball, he joked that it was time to "dance with the one who brung me, who does everything that I do except backwards and in heels."

And though the mood was celebratory, the reality that the country remains at war hung over the festivities at the Commander in Chief ball and a separate Heroes Red White & Blue Ball.

"Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers today, every day, forever," Obama told troops at the Commander in Chief ball. "Tonight, we celebrate. Tomorrow, the work begins. ... Together, I am confident we will write the next great chapter in America's story."

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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