President Barack Obama introduced his “date” and “dance partner,” Michelle Obama, at the Commander-in-Chief Ball last night in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The crowd roared their approval.
The Obamas danced on a stage to Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” performed by Jennifer Hudson. The president could be seen whispering the lyrics into his wife’s ear. Michelle Obama wore a bespoke red Jason Wu gown that will be donated to the National Archives, her office said.
The guests sang along while producing a sea of phone-camera lights that competed with the blue glow from the illuminated inaugural seal.
Most of the guests at the Commander-in-Chief Ball were military members and their spouses who started gathering early around the stage, anticipating the presidential guest of honor.
Army First Lieutenant Jason Pak, a West Point graduate who lost both legs last month in Afghanistan, was among the wounded singled out for their bravery.
“The world doesn’t change, but presidents do,” said Air Force Technical Sergeant Joseph Deslauriers, who lost his legs and an arm in Afghanistan in 2011.
Country crooner Brad Paisley dedicated his hit “She’s Everything” to the female soldiers in attendance.
Alicia Keys, in red sequins, did her “Girl on Fire,” with lyrical variation: “Obama’s on fire,” she belted.
The official Inaugural Ball, open to the public, was also at the Washington Convention Center. Many guests from both events dispersed to parties all over Washington.
BET Networks held an after-hours event sponsored by Marriott International Inc. and AT&T Inc. where hip-hop pulsated throughout the National Portrait Gallery, which had been turned into a chic dance club.
These and weekend parties offered a chance for figures from both Obama terms to take a bow. Secretary of State nominee Senator John Kerry and Treasury Secretary nominee Jack Lew did just that over cocktails at the Park Hyatt last night for a celebration hosted by Eli and Edythe Broad.
The invitation featured Jasper Johns’s “Flag, 1967,” from the Broads’ collection, while the guest list drew from the upper echelons of the White House.
Current cabinet members Kathleen Sebelius, Leon Panetta, Tom Vilsack and Janet Napolitano spoke during dinner, as well as Nancy Pelosi. Walter Isaacson and Jeff Koons were guests.
Kerry was also at Cafe Milano on Sunday, for a brunch hosted by Tina Brown’s Newsweek-Daily Beast. David Axelrod, Obama’s campaign mastermind, relaxed around the seafood-and-pasta buffet.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell wore a lapel pin in the shape of a little red wagon -- the symbol of his America’s Promise organization for children and a reminder, he said, that every young person deserves a happy and cheerful childhood.
Alan Greenspan, 86, was hard-pressed to name a favorite inauguration.
“I’ve been to so many,” the former Federal Reserve chairman said Saturday evening at a house party hosted by Atlantic Media Co.’s David Bradley, where Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren and Hungarian Ambassador Gyorgy Szapary were guests.
Former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe dashed in briefly enroute to another party. Ashley Judd arrived late in a little black dress.
Actors Alfre Woodard and Lynn Whitfield shared their inaugural memories at the Creative Coalition’s Sunday dinner party at the Russian restaurant Mari Vanna. David Arquette and Robin Bronk, executive director of the Creative Coalition, were also in attendance.
Woodard, who campaigned for Obama in 2008, said that seeing him sworn in the first time was emotional because she knew firsthand the hard work it took to get there.
International cuisine was featured at the Indiaspora Ball at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
Guests included Congressman Edward Royce, California Republican and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and his wife, Marie Therese Royce, senior director of international affairs for Alcatel-Lucent. They chatted with Sanjay Puri, the chairman of the U.S.-India Political Action Committee.
Many in the crowd wore saris and Nehru jackets. Shots of strawberry lassi were served on arrival.
British Ambassador Peter Westmacott’s tea Saturday afternoon brought out media, entertainment and political royalty.
“I love coming to the British Embassy,” said Briton Tina Brown. “I have to take the train down from New York to get a decent cup of tea.”
Actress Rosario Dawson, a political activist for Latino issues, wore Dolce & Gabbana demure tweed and said that immigration reform was her No. 1 priority for the president’s new term.
Barbara Walters, in a bold turquoise necklace, said her favorite British prime minister to interview was Margaret Thatcher.
Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett wore silver Giorgio Armani and gave Michelle Obama’s new haircut, with eyebrow-grazing bangs, a thumbs up.
Senator Kay Hagan, North Carolina Democrat, sipped tea with her husband, Chip, Montana Democratic Senator Jon Tester, and former Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who came with his lobbyist wife, Linda.
Tony and Heather Podesta, who recently announced their separation, also attended, a sign as good as any other that for inaugurations, differences can be set aside.
(For a slide show of inaugural photographs, click here.)
(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
Muse highlights include John Mariani on wine, Greg Evans on film.