Where: The Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
When: Tuesday, January 20, 7 PM to 1 AM.
Ticket price: $200.
Who: Folks from the lovely state of Hawaii (including several of President Obama’s former high school classmates) and just about anybody who purchased a ticket before they sold out right after Obama’s win. General Eric Shinseki was slated to attend as well, though we didn’t catch sight of him. Some folks hoped that the President himself would show up, but as the ball wasn’t designated as one of the 10 official ones, expectations waned by the time the ball got warmed up.
Scene: It was a slow start to the night at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel ballroom for Hawaii’s biggest party in DC. Empty tables were scattered about the main room, and lines at the coat check and bars were short (not that we’re complaining). We speculated that it might be because the hotel was one of the only ball locations south of Pennsylvania and Constitution Avenues—which remained closed late into the night, making it nearly impossible to drive or catch a taxi to the hotel. (We speak from experience, having hoofed it nearly 10 blocks in heels. Oh, how we suffer for our art.)
Hawaiian bands strummed and sang, and the crowd started to fill in closer to 10 PM, eventually creating lines for the multiple food and drink stations. But keeping with a Hawaiian attitude, everybody was friendly and laid back in their formal attire or traditional island garb. Maybe it had to do with the beautifully lush leis handed out to everyone at the entrance.
Food and Drink: Open bars ruled the rooms, which the crowd appreciated (especially considering the $200 ticket price). You could sip standard mixed drinks, beer, or wine. Ball-goers lined up for roast suckling pig, sushi, shrimp tempura, fruit, and more.
Boldface names: 2 out of 5.
Swankiness: 3 out of 5.
Food and drink: 3 out of 5.
Overall exclusivity: 1 out of 5.
Total score: 9 out of 20.