WASHINGTON – A canopy of cell-phone cameras covered the excited crowd as President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama made their way onto the stage at the Inaugural Ball Monday night. The first lady, wearing a glamorous ruby-red Jason Wu gown, stole the spotlight when she and her husband danced to “Let’s Stay Together,” sung by Jennifer Hudson as the Presidential Inauguration came to a close Monday night.
The Walter E. Washington Convention Center hosted the more than 20,000 attendees from across the nation as performers paid tribute to America’s 44th president. Between the expectation of a lower turnout and an effort to avoid spreading talent too thin, the Presidential Inaugural Committee cut the number of balls from 10 to two.
Margo Davidson, a Pennsylvania state legislator, and her husband were at the party to celebrate Obama’s second term. The president and first lady supported Davidson in her run for office two years ago in the Keystone State.
“I love him and Michelle,” Davidson, an Upper Darby, Pa., resident said. “I thought (his speech) was great. There wasn’t as much pressure as there was in 2009 and it was still grand this time.”
The expansive arena was filled with patriotic lighting, and grand white drapes on royal blue walls provided the background for the night’s entertainment. Supporters roamed the hall while enjoying the entertainment and making sure their drinks were never quite empty.
Grammy-award winning singer Alicia Keys opened the evening’s festivities on the piano with her hit song “Girls on Fire.” Fittingly, Keys swapped out the chorus’ lyrics: “…This girl’s on fire. She’s walking on fire. This girl’s on fire,” to “Obama’s on fire. He’s president and he’s on fire,” drawing a roar from the crowd.
Other performances by Brad Paisley, Stevie Wonder, John Legend, and the Latin group Mana among others provided a variety of musical tastes for attendees.
Terrie Riley, a resident of Marlboro, Md., came to see the first lady’s dress but was inspired by Obama’s address earlier in the day.
“It was relevant for today and the times we are experiencing,” Riley said. “It was all-inclusive and reached to the future and the past at the same time.”
Most importantly, the late-night bash provided one last breath of fun and serenity before the storm as the president and Congress do battle on Capitol Hill over the nation’s economy.