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Capital Comment Blog > Inaugural Balls|Inauguration 2009

Breaking News: Dionne Warwick’s Inaugural Bash is Off

Dionne Warwick's American Music Inaugural Ball at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel has been canceled. The culprit? Less-than-impressive ticket sales.

The diva had been planning the event since the end of the summer, but had to back out suddenly this week when only a few hundred tickets had been sold, sources say. Warwick had been planning to host as many as 6,000 guests at her January 20 event. Tickets started at $350.

Christopher "Ludacris" Bridges was billed as the cohost for the two-part event, which was to feature a Legends Ball and an Urban Ball. Performers slated to take the stage included Rodney Atkins, George Clinton, Marvin Sapp, Kirk Franklin, T-Pain, David Banner, Athena Cage, Cedric the Entertainer, the Cheetah Girls, Fantasia, Lil Jon, Monica, Bella Steez, and Bobby Valentino.   

Sources close to Warwick say the singer was "upset and disappointed" with the decision to cancel. Many of the performers and VIP guests, including several NBA stars, were already in town for the event.

The American Music Ball is just one of several inaugural events that have folded. MTV canned its Be the Change ball at the Ronald Reagan Center nearly two weeks ago, and Luke Russert canceled his prepster bash at Georgetown's the Rookery just two days after it was announced. Disheartening news broke yesterday afternoon that the Veterans' Inaugural Ball was kaput after the promoter, Dante Hayes of the nonprofit Congressional Education Foundation for Public Policy, "had not met financial obligations," according to the Army Times. As of this writing, Hayes is unable to be located.

Event planners speculate that unrealistic expectations of inaugural crowds prompted too many balls to be planned, and when the projected 4 million visitors never materialized, some events were unable to meet necessary ticket sales.

Another problem: the economy. "Those with the money to attend balls are only going to one, instead of several, and nobody else can afford to buy tickets," said one planner, who asked to remain anonymous. Corporate and private sponsors were also hard to come by, thanks to the recession.

For those who purchased tickets to Warwick's ball, refunds will be made within 45 days, according to a message on ball's now-defunct Web site. It reads: "We apologize for any inconvenience."

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