Party time! Obamas make grand entrance at inaugural ball

Jan. 21, 2013 at 5:02 PM ET

Image: U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrive at the Inaugural Ball in Washington
Shannon Stapleton
It's not an inauguration without glamorous galas — and fabulous first lady fashions to match. Here's a look back.

President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle shared a tender dance at the Commander in Chief ball Monday night, hours after he swore the oath of office during the public inauguration. 

Jennifer Hudson performed Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" as the couple swayed — and even shared a kiss — on the dance floor, which was of a giant presidential seal. 

"I'm just lucky to have her," the president said of Michelle minutes before their dance. "She inspires me every day. She makes me a better man and a better president. The fact that she is so devoted to taking care of our troops and military families is just one more sign of her extraordinary love and grace and strength."

"Some may dispute the quality of our president, but nobody disputes the quality of our first lady," he quipped. 

The first lady, resplendent in a custom Jason Wu ruby-colored chiffon and velvet gown, sent out a special tweet to her husband after their dance. 

Michelle also wore a Wu gown in 2009, and that platform launched his career from obscurity to being one of the most coveted designers in the country.

More: Once again, Michelle Obama dazzles in inaugural gown by Jason Wu

NBC News /
It's a tradition that the president and first lady dance with members of the armed services.

The Commander in Chief ball was made up of active-duty military members, Medal of Honor recipients, wounded warriors and reserve service members invited to attend. There, the president gave a speech praising those special invitees, who also included the legendary Tuskegee Airmen.

Following their dance together, the Obamas and Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, also continued the tradition of dancing with members of the military selected for the honor based on their combat experience and volunteer efforts. 

The Commander in Chief ball was one of two official galas that took place on Monday night. It marked the lowest number of balls for an inauguration in 60 years, since Dwight Eisenhower was sworn into office in 1953.

More: Love is in the air! Obamas get smoochy during inauguration

Justin Sullivan / EPA /
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama dance on the presidential seal at the Commander-in-Chief's Ball Monday night.

The Obamas later visited the inaugural ball, where they repeated the dance for a different crowd. The Inaugural Ball was held across 700,000 square feet of the five exhibit halls in the convention center. This year the Presidential Inaugural Committee made a limited number of tickets available to the general public for $60 that were quickly snapped up.

A wide variety of musical acts performed at one or both of the events, including Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, fun., John Legend, Soundgarden, Usher and Marc Anthony. A pair of hip-hop acts — Black Violin and Far East Movement — also performed along with members of the cast of “Glee.’’

Keys tweaked her hit song “Girl on Fire’’ during the inaugural ball, altering the chorus from “This girl is on fire,’’ to “Obama’s on fire.’’ She concluded the song by saying, “To the Obamas! ... Have a great time.’’

More: Obama: 'I'll put moves' on Michelle during inaugural dance

Reuters / Getty / File /
Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys and Katy Perry are set to perform tonight at the inauguration balls.

Many of the stars performing at the inaugural balls supported Obama during his campaign. Keys and Perry both performed during fundraisers, and Wonder accompanied him on the campaign trail. Beyonce, who sang the national anthem at Obama’s public swearing-in ceremony earlier on Monday, hosted a campaign fundraiser along with her husband, rapper Jay-Z, in September.

Kelly Clarkson performed "America (My Country 'Tis of Thee)’’ and James Taylor sang “America the Beautiful” during the president’s swearing-in ceremony on Monday.

Megastar Lady Gaga will perform at Tuesday’s private ball for White House staffers, according to a report by The Associated Press citing a person familiar with the inauguration celebrations. Jay-Z reportedly performed at the staff ball in 2009.

It will be tough to top the inaugural celebration in 2009, which had the largest attendance of any event in the history of Washington D.C., according to the official inauguration site, which is maintained by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. A record 1.8 million people flocked to the nation’s capital for the ceremonies in 2009.

There were 10 official balls following Obama’s historic election in 2008, compared with two on Monday evening. The president has cited the nation’s struggling economy and the intention to reduce government spending as reasons for the cutback. 


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