See more photos of inaugural balls.
Scene: Bigwigs mingled in a VIP room away from the masses. Inside the ballroom, partygoers danced to music by Ringo Starr’s All-Star Band, which didn’t include the former Beatle but did feature Billy Joel band member Mark Rivera. Couples lined up to have their official picture taken in front of a backdrop with the inaugural seal. Said one of the photographers: “It’ll make you feel like you’re at prom again!”
Food and drink: Two buffets served flank steak, pad Thai, baked salmon, and an assortment of grilled vegetables. Although lines for the buffet snaked around the ballroom, it was easy to snag a drink at one of the three bars, which offered wine, beer, and flutes of Korbel Champagne.
Strangest moment: Pennsylvania native and Basic Instinct star Sharon Stone took the stage to welcome the crowd. Dressed in a floor-length black dress with a plunging V-neck, the fiftysomething actress gave an impassioned—and rambling—speech that touched on, among other things, her working-class upbringing, the history of the Liberty Bell, the resiliency of Pennsylvanians, and Steelers football. After she led the crowd in a chant of “Yes, we can! Yes, we can!,” some guests wondered if the actress was planning a run for office.
Best line: Tony Perkins to the crowd: “We’ll see if the governor can wrangle a special guest. But if he can’t, by the end of the night half of you will think I’m Barack Obama anyway.”
Boldface names: 4 out of 5.
Swankiness: 3 out of 5.
Food and drink: 3 out of 5.
Overall exclusivity: 3 out of 5.
Total score: 13 out of 20.