After midnight guests of the Meridian Ball flocked to the Moroccan themed dance tent, where they packed in and danced so hard the floor heaved up and down. (Photo by Kate Warren for The Washington Post).

In an uncharacteristically wild evening that culminated in a party filled with hookah smoke, an exotic fruit bar, and a pulsing, packed Moroccan-inspired dance tent, the 47th annual Meridian Ball on Friday night proved to be one of the liveliest of Washington’s social season.

With the goal of promoting global leadership across the public and private sectors, this classic Washington party with a nonpartisan feel found a Goldilocks-sweet spot with a choose-your-own-adventure format that allowed guests to relax if they wanted and or have plenty of wild company on the dance floor if they didn’t. The addition of a DJ’ed tent attracted a lively young crowd without alienating traditional guests, making for a multi-generational event that felt like a buzzy pop-up club.

Two dozen embassies hosted chic pre-ball dinners, allowing long-established guests a tasteful onset to the evening. Later they converged at the Meridian International Center to join a few hundred post-dinner revelers for dessert, drinks, and dancing into the wee hours. Despite the lack of politicians due to the congressional recess, or perhaps because of it, the party took a wilder turn than most as diplomats and business tycoons mixed, drank, and danced into the wee hours of Saturday morning.


Meridian International Center staffers and their friends relaxed in one of the Meridian Ball’s several hookah smoking tents, complete with lounge chairs, layered carpets, and poofs for added seating as guests puffed away. From left, Matthew Mitchum, Rebekah Nantz, Hunter Kafcsak, Louis McCabe, Nicole Colameta, Sara Anderson, Kailee Shah, and Zak Kafsak (Photo by Kate Warren for The Washington Post).

Maryna Polosemko enjoys some wine and hookah to relax at after dinner at the Meridian Ball on October 16. (Photo by Kate Warren for The Washington Post).

Guests gather in the dining room of the White-Meyer dinner at the 47th annual Meridian Ball on October 16. Seated from left to right, journalist Dana Bash of CNN, Spencer Garrett, Michel Gill of House of Cards fame with his wife Jane Atkinson-Gill, Ellie Schafer. Standing behind them are Almus Thorp, Carlos Elizondo, Mark Dumas, Elizabeth Thorp and Dr. Heather Rothenberg (left to right). (Photo by Kate Warren for The Washington Post).

The outdoor terrace of the October 16 Meridian Ball was home to a custom exotic fruit bar, where staff would cut up and present each guest with the fruit of their choice for a sumptuous after-dinner snack. (Photo by Kate Warren for The Washington Post).

Federal Allies Institute Chairman Charles Sills, Vice President Biden’s Chief of Staff Tonya Williams, Chris Scribner, and Christine Warnick on the twinkle-light and lantern draped outdoor terrace at the Meridian Ball on October 16. (Photo by Kate Warren for The Washington Post).

Nina Harris laughs uproariously while talking with Charles Faulkner, left, and Daemon Harris, right, at the October 16 Meridian Ball. (Photo by Kate Warren for The Washington Post).

Don Patron and Angela Stever get close on the packed dance floor at the Meridian Ball on October 16. (Photo by Kate Warren for The Washington Post).

Emily Jansen and Bret Peterson take advantage of the open entry hall adjacent to the room with the live band to boogie with more room for activities. A sweeping twirl and dip? Oh yes, they went there. (Photo by Kate Warren for The Washington Post).