Wednesday, January 21, 2009

History said "Let's Dance!"

And I can't think of a better reason to have a ball.

Prague is the only city I've lived in where we regularly get the chance to go to balls. Starting around Thanksgiving and running until Lent, Prague hosts a plethora of events that call for a tux and a taxi (ball gowns on the metro - very chilly). You can go to a ball to celebrate Thanksgiving or St. Patrick's Day, dance at charity balls put on by expat groups or try out the State Opera Ball just because. Dancing is not a prequisite, but getting dressed up pretty much is. Last year I was pregnant and we skipped the ball season. This year we decided that our ball of the year should be memorable, so we decided to go to Prague's Unofficial Inaugural Ball.

We donned gown and tuxedo, I strangled Will into his bow tie and we headed out the door, Caroline calling after us that she loved my outfit and could she have my shoes next? The ball was at a hotel famous for its funicular, and on the ride up the hill I looked out over snowy gardens and down into town and I wondered if this would be the best part - the gown tryouts with C and our sitter (complete with high heel practice), the spritz of scent and dash out the door, the contained elegance of a car ride in dress black, and finally this trip up the hill in a brightly lit box full of anticipation.

But then we arrived, and we met friends and more friends. A guitarist, Tony Ackerman, melded "America" with "We Shall Overcome" and "A Gift to Be Simple", and the music was just right. We watched President Obama's swearing in and heard speeches, live and taped, and we cheered and clapped. The room was full of excitement and I heard again and again how proud, just how proud everyone was to be experiencing this moment in history. It was a wonderful night, and I came home all bubbly with the fun of it all.

Tonight Caroline and I sat down at the computer and we listened to a short speech by Martin Luther King and we saw again President Obama's swearing in. She was more interested in his two little girls and their outfits than in the ceremony. She asked if the little girls were princesses now. We watched a little bit longer, then it was time for bedtime, new era or not. And I wondered - years from now, what from yesterday and today, balls and videos and pictures of little girls dressed in warm colors, what will we remember?


lenabee said...

One never knows - but I hope to remember Julian sitting attentively in my lap watching tv (for almost the first time in his life) - saying flag to every flag, Papa every time he saw Obama (inexplicitly), dancing to the music, and waving byebye to the Bush's. I also hope to remember it as the day that truly marked the beginning of an awe inspiring President. Please God and time will tell.

Juliana said...

How amazing and wonderful that you went to such an event in Prague! I thought you had to be rich or famous to be invited to a ball....

everyone here is in such a good mood. My only regret is that Max can no longer wear his cute little onesy that reads "I already know more than than the President."

Barrett Bonden said...

You have to be rich to go to a ball in Prague. Otherwise you run the risk of coming home on a pumpkin drawn by a (non-string-playing) quartet of rats. Even chillier than the tube, sorry, subway.

I enjoyed the cock-up during the swearing in. Obama doesn't smile much but he did then. And his wife grinned for America. What happened next was astonishing but for all I know is routine at these inaugurations. First Obama damned Bush with faint phrase (thanking him for co-operating during "the transition". Big deal!) then devoted much of his speech to implying - sometimes virtually saying it outright - that the Bush era with all its deficiencies was over and good riddance. It almost made me feel sorry for the blundering Texan. Almost...

Julia said...

Everyone goes to balls in Prague, at least partly because everyone learns how to dance a little bit when they are kids and then many people take ballroom dancing classes when they are around 15. Our babysitters asked Will recently if he knew how to tango or waltz, or at least polka. And of course they think even non-dancers would know the mazurka (you learn it in kindergarten). I am going to look up the steps any day now ;-).

lenabee said...

My French TV channel caught the look on Bush's face when Obama said we would not let our ideals suffer for our security - how they picked that exact moment to zoom on Bush - but he looked as if he were swearing...

lizardek said...

what a lovely post, and how fun to go to your very own inaugural ball! The kids, and Anders and I watched the whole thing on CNN, and laughed every time they said "peaceful transition of power" but I was teary-eyed by the end.

Anonymous said...


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People can be involved with our theater group in a number of different
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and also as an artist: actors, directors, scenic artists, costumers,

We're now in our second season and have big plans for next year. We'd
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Lucy said...

Oh and don't you look glamorous!

What a way to see in the new. I think C may be right; they may be princesses now...

(Juliana - love the idea of that baby suit!)

poppy fields said...

I don't know about many "balls" in France, but there were some for the inauguration. And yes, I think that Malia and Sasha are truly America's princesses :)
I love that photo of you.

Barrett Bonden said...

Come on, Julia. I know you're in there.