This post was written by Hatchet reporter Allison Kowalski
About 5,500 students, faculty and staff ushered in President Barack Obama’s second term at the city’s only inaugural ball put on by a university – and the largest in GW’s history.
Each of the Omni Shoreham Hotel’s seven ballrooms was packed throughout the night, with hallways crammed with guests who wanted a glimpse of each room. The Diplomat Room featured salsa, while a live band blared top 40 hits in the Ambassador Ballroom. Another room featured 11 student group performances and a rock band comprising GW staff and administrators.
Eric Felton Orchestra, a swing band stationed in the Regency Ballroom, played classic big band hits like the Dames’ “Only Have Eyes for You,” and Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.”
Draped in a flowing satin gown cinched with a sparkled brooch at her hip, junior Zahava Eytan said she enjoyed the swing music best because the steps were quick to learn.
“It’s perfect because I’ve been trying to get my boyfriend to take me out to swing clubs in the city, so I love it here,” Eytan said.
Physics professor Allena Opper, who listened to the band from a candlelit table with her husband, said she had attended black tie events before, but “nothing like this.”
“My favorite part is seeing the students get up and try the old dances,” Opper said.
The inaugural ball has been a GW tradition since 1993, bussing in vast crowds to the Woodley Park-area hotel.
This year GW paid about $600,000, about $40,000 more than it spent in 2009 in today’s dollars. It also charged to check coats – $5 each. GW recouped two-thirds of 2009′s ball costs from ticket sales.
The three-hour event ended promptly. Students couldn’t purchase drink tickets past 11 p.m. and the buffets lined with pot stickers, fruit, skewers and hummus were cleared out by 11:30 p.m. By midnight, the night’s scheduled end-time, the coatroom line had already overflowed into the hallway.
Taking a break from dancing with her friends, freshman Tiffany Ismael, wearing a white, one-shouldered gown with a sequined torso, said the atmosphere seemed “really overwhelming.”
“I’d change how crowded it is and add more space, because less people would be nice,” Ismael said.
But for most, the night was the perfect end to an inauguration day at GW. Freshman Kait Haire, dressed in a blush-nude, lace BCBG dress, she would be sad to leave.
“This is a thousand times better than I could have expected – the closest thing I’ve ever attended like this is prom and that’s nowhere near this,” Haire said.