The Running of the Balls

January 20, 2013

It’s inauguration weekend, which means there are a thousand balls to attend. These balls are both overwhelming and tedious, so Monica and I decided to make a competition out of going to them (read the full story here), in the style of “The Amazing Race.” We picked 11 balls on Saturday night and assigned each a point value. Then we kicked off the first quadrennial Running of the Balls. The objective was to collect the most points between 8 p.m. and midnight. Points were awarded for each inaugural ball that we attended. But! We could each only move on to the next ball if:

1. We consumed a food item or beverage with a political name (a “Yes We Canape,” for example).


Style writer Monica Hesse race from inaugural ball to ball. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

2. We found any elected official, a person wearing a tiara or a celebrity of passable renown.

3. We participated in a group dance (“The Electric Slide,” for example, or “The Wobble”).

4. A song by Stevie Wonder was played.

5. An attendee delivered a speech.

6. We photographed an attendee who is wearing paraphernalia supporting a politician other than Barack Obama.

7. We spotted the other contestant and snapped a surreptitious photo of him or her; the spotter could then exit; the spotted had to remain in the exact location at which he or she was spotted for 15 minutes and write a self-critical diary entry.

If, after 45 minutes, none of these seven exit cues presented themselves, we could leave the ball — but only by traveling to the next ball on foot. To avoid disqualification, we had to meet at the front steps of The Washington Post by midnight. Here’s our combined diary of the contest, and here is a storyfied version of our tweets throughout the night.

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