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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Pomp and Circumstance, Galas and Balls

Washington is a great place to be around inauguration time…especially if you like lots of pomp and circumstance. It’s a pretty big deal around here. The upcoming 57th Presidential Inauguration is drawing big crowds, although not the history-making event that drew 1.8 million people in 2009, still the city and surrounding areas are all abuzz with preparations for the event. Tickets have been sold out for weeks, good luck getting a hotel room for a reasonable price, city residents are putting rooms up for rent on craigslist for ridiculous sums of money, public transportation systems are preparing to operate for 22 hours on inauguration day and some museums along the Pennsylvania Avenue parade route are even offering special packages for viewing the presidential inauguration…like I said, it’s a big deal.

At least 46 inaugural balls and galas will be held in honor of the Presidential Inauguration throughout the DC area in the next week! However, the official inaugural balls are usually by invitation only because they’re the only ones the President, Vice President and their families make an appearance at. President Barack Obama is drawing an A-list of performers for his inaugural festivities, and the massive official balls are expected to draw more than 40,000 revelers.

With so much talk of grand balls and galas I feel like I’m living in a Disney movie taking place in 17th Century France, lol. Well, this got me thinking…what exactly is the difference between a ball and a gala? From my party and event planning experience I know they are often used interchangeably. So I did some research and it turns out that there is a difference.

Originally, a formal ball was always private, by invitation-only, and usually also restricted by social class. Gala events on the other hand, are festive and open to the public, although it is generally restricted to those who buy a ticket. Today however, many balls have become ticketed events open to the public, rather than invitation-only. Modern usage additionally associates most gala events with marketing or fundraising for charity.

Regardless of what you call them, they’re basically a prom for grownups. And just like prom I think everyone should experience at least one in their lifetime!


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