Inaugural ball tips from a ball surviver

WTOP\'s Randi Martin attended the Maryland Inaugural Ball for former President Bill Clinton\'s re-election in 1997. It was the first date for Martin and Allen Orenberg, who is now married to Martin. (WTOP/Randi Martin)

Randi Martin,

WASHINGTON – Attending an inaugural ball is very exciting — the glitz, the glamour, the pain, the suffering!

Let’s start with coat check. Giving coat check your coat is no problem. Getting it back may be.

I was caught in a near riot at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in D.C. during the second Clinton inaugural ball. There were three balls in the hotel that ended at the same time so everyone converged on the cloak room, sending the staff into a panic.

The coat check staff did what most would do in that circumstance — they ran!

The coat check room was then locked up, which sent party guests screaming, yelling and pounding on the doors. The hotel called the police, and we were all sent out in the bitter cold without our wraps. We were told to come back the next day to get them.

All those pretty and fragile party gowns worn at the ball will also take a beating. You need to brace yourself for rips, tears, spills and pulls — expect them all.

And let’s talk about those stilettos you will be wearing. At any of the venues, there may be a hard floor underneath that new carpeting organizers put down to spruce up the room. By mid event, you will not be able to feel your feet, so bring flats.

And the food promised with the invitation? At the ball I attended, I never saw it and couldn’t get near it because of all the hungry ballgoers between the tables and I. Eat before you go if you do not want to be hungry and do not want alcohol to control your evening, especially on an empty stomach.

If you plan on grabbing a cab after the event, good luck with that! While there will be many cabs, the lines will be long and slow. I suggest walking around the block to catch a cab on a different corner.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime event for many people, so try to have a good time!

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