Having a ball: Parties for POTUS, now and then

Everyone at this year's inaugural balls should thank George Washington, who celebrated his oath of office with a mean minuet at a dance hall in New York. From the first dancer-in-chief to the 44th, more presidents than not have spent inauguration evening at a ball.

Where the Obamas and others will go

  • Official balls
  • State society balls
  • Other events

NOTE: The category "other events" is not comprehensive. On inauguration weekend, bars, clubs and restaurants host inaugural-themed events because that's the convention. Read the Reliable Source for more about category breakdowns.

Visit the Going Out Guide for inauguration event listings.

Where other presidents have gone (or not)

Defining “inaugural ball” was tricky, particularly in years when none were official. Many presidents celebrated at unofficial events, sometimes attended by thousands, so we’re counting most post-inauguration soirees as balls. History buffs: Our list was gathered from sometimes conflicting sources, so please add your information in the comments section.

  • Expected to attend
  • Attended
  • Possibly attended
  • Rollover a square to see where the ball was held

Carter's parties featured peanuts.

Dancers at Cleveland's ball in 1885.

Mary Todd Lincoln reportedly stayed hours longer at her husband's first inaugural ball than he did.

SOURCES: Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies; 57th Presidential Inaugural Committee; Smithsonian Institution Archives; Washington Post archives; the History Channel; WhiteHouse.gov; essay “Inaugural Balls of the Past,” by David Rankin Barber, 1933; Library of Congress; Rutherford B. Hayes Library; PBS.org.

PHOTOS: Obama, Richard A. Lipski/The Washington Post; Cleveland, Harper's Weekly, March 14, 1885; Carter, Associated Press; Lincoln, Library of Congress/Getty Images.

GRAPHIC: Bonnie Berkowitz and Emily Chow/The Washington Post. Published Jan. 14, 2013.

Visit the Going Out Guide

Looking for more things to do inauguration weekend? See which bars and restaurants are extending their hours and offering specials.