The Obamas at the US Presidential Ball

“At Last” may have been just what US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle were thinking on Tuesday night as they glided through their first inaugural dance to the Etta James classic.

The Obamas were the star attraction at the Neighbourhood Ball, the first of 10 inaugural celebrations they planned to attend, stretching into the early hours of Wednesday.

The celebrations marked the end of a long day of formal inaugural events and the two-year campaign that paved the road to the White House.

The president pulled his wife closely as the pair danced a slow, dignified two-step while, offstage, Beyonce sang.

The president spun first lady Michelle Obama once in a half-turn.

Obama cut loose in a faster groove a few minutes later, as Shakira, Mary J. Blige, Faith Hill and Mariah Carey sang along with Stevie Wonder to his hit song “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”

The song was played at nearly every one of Obama’s rallies throughout the campaign.

The president wore white tie, while Michelle shimmered in a white, one-shouldered, floor-length gown.

It was embellished from top to bottom with white floral details and made by 26-year-old New York designer Jason Wu.

“First of all, how good looking is my wife?” Obama asked the crowd of celebrities and supporters alike.

At their second ball, the Home State ball, the president pulled the first lady much closer than he did on their first dance.

At one point, he wrapped both arms around her waist and locked his fingers together at the small of her back.

At the Commander in Chief Ball, Obama spoke to soldiers stationed in Afghanistan via satellite.

“To you, to all those watching around the world, know that as president I will have no greater honour or responsibility than serving as your Commander-in-Chief,” he told his euphoric audience.

Vice President Joe Biden saluted the nation’s military men and women and then said he wasn’t looking forward to his moment in the spotlight – the dancing, that is.

Despite the formal attire and celebrity entertainment, balls aren’t overly fancy affairs.

Lines often are long to get in, go to the bathroom or check your coat, and the food is heavy on vegetables with dip and cheese cubes.

In a sign of the financial times, guests who already paid anywhere from 75 US dollars for a ticket, to thousands more for a package deal had to buy their own drinks served in small plastic cups.

Beer went for 6 US dollars, cocktails for 9 US dollars and champagne for 12 US dollars.

Still, the city was buzzing with excitement.

Visiting from North Carolina, Jill Maguire said she would “do anything” for Barack Obama.

Allison Johnson, a Washington, DC resident, said despite the cold weather it was “some wonderful celebration of the first African-American president in the United States of America.”

The Obamas were expected to party into the early morning hours of Wednesday to celebrate their historic victory……………….NDTV


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