GW Inaugural Ball nearly sold out

The GW Inaugural Ball is close to being sold out, University officials said.

As of Jan. 12, more than a week before the ball, GW had sold 3,580 tickets. The ball, which will be held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel from 8 p.m. to midnight on Jan. 20, can accommodate 4,000 guests. Tickets cost $75.

“We are aware that an awful lot of students are last-minute thinkers on this, and we’re prepared for a rush of students next Tuesday when classes begin,” said Michael Freedman, vice president of Communications.

The “black tie invited” event will be held in four different ballrooms and feature live music, dinner and dancing. President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have been invited to the party, but are not expected to attend because they will be making the rounds of other parties on Jan. 20.

“It’s an amazing amount of work,” University Marshal Jill Kasle said, describing GW’s organizing efforts. “We started planning it a year ago.”

She said the ball will offer an extensive menu featuring risotto stations, fajitas and carving stations.

“You name it, we have it,” Kasle said.

Each of the four ballrooms will offer a different type of musical entertainment. The largest ballroom will feature a live band playing different genres of music. Other rooms will host student entertainers, a DJ, and the King James and the Serfs of Swing, led by GW faculty member Jim Levy. The University has invited other entertainers as well.

“We have fortune tellers, tarot card readers, magicians and a George Bush look-a-like,” Kasle said.

Most of the guests will be students, though some distinguished guests have been invited, Kasle said. The University will provide buses to transport students between the ball and both the Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses. Unlike pricier balls, Kasle said GW’s event is geared toward young people. The University also sent faculty, staff, alumni and parents invitations and announcements about the ball.

“My most important expectation for the evening is that GW students feel that they are full participants in one of the grandest events that takes place in the District and happens only once every four years,” Freedman said “We’re all very excited about it.”

Thursday night will mark the fourth time GW has hosted an inaugural ball.

“We have a bigger ball this year,” Kasle said. “Four years ago, the ball’s capacity was 3,000. We sold out, and we felt so badly about the other people that we thought we better do a bigger ball next time.”

Freedman was at GW when the University launched its first ball in 1993, after Bill Clinton won his first presidential election. He said each ball has been more successful than the previous one. The 2001 party marked the first time the ball was held off campus, at the Omni Shoreham.

“We talked about different venues. The easiest thing to do is to hold an event on campus,” Freedman said. “But we all agreed that we wanted to stage an inaugural ball off-campus. If you really want to feel that you are part of official Washington, you want to be in a setting that is part of official Washington.”

GW’s event is not one of the inauguration’s nine official balls, which are overseen by the Presidential Inaugural Committee. Several prominent unofficial balls will also be held, including the eNaugural.com Ball, featuring members of the technology community; the Recording Industry Association of America’s ball; and the Environmental and Clean Energy Inaugural Ball, held at the Georgetown restaurant Sequoia.

The “Black Tie and Boots Ball,” an unofficial ball sponsored by the Texas State Society, is one of D.C.’s hottest tickets. Scalpers were selling tickets to the event for $1,500 per pair last week, making the GW ball’s $75 price tag a relative bargain.

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