The biggest party on Monday night is the most exclusive: the 2013 Inaugural Ball, one of just two official parties that President Obama will be attending.
The Inaugural Ball is expected to draw some 35,000 attendees; this year’s festivities are so hot that the tickets sold out before they were even supposed to be publicly available, thanks to a major glitch at Ticketmaster which unintentionally put the $60 tickets on sale just four hours after an e-mail from the company said they would be released the next day.
Don’t worry, though: there were plenty of tickets available for unofficial balls, such as the $250-$275 2013 Black Tie and Boots Ball at the Gaylord Resort, while the Brewers Ball at ChurchKey Bar went for a happy hour special: buy three $150 tickets, get one free. There are dozens of unofficial festivities set for every inauguration night, and Monday is no exception.
There’s one more official event the president will attend tonight: the Commander-in-Chief’s Ball, where the President will address members of the U.S. military. That particular party is free of charge to all invited members of the military.
The tradition of inaugural balls dates back over 200 years; the first official ball was held in 1809 and charged $4 a ticket. Since then, each president has sought to cultivate an image via their inaugural parties. Jimmy Carter referred to them as "parties," seeking to draw down the stodgy image of his Republican predecessors. Woodrow Wilson decided to withhold from throwing balls in 1913, and the practice did not renew until Harry Truman’s second inauguration in 1949.
Previous Inaugural Balls were more elaborate. In 2009, President Obama attended 10 official balls, and was serenaded by performers including Beyonce Knowles.