No, There Is No Inaugural Ball This Year

“We also want to be sensitive to the realities of the moment, have safety protocols first and foremost.”

washington, dc january 21 us vice president joe biden and dr jill biden dance together during the inaugural ball at the walter e washington convention center on january 21, 2013 in washington, united states photo by michael kovacwireimage
(Image credit: Michael Kovac)

It’s no secret that this year’s inauguration looks quite different from past iterations. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, both the ceremonial oath-taking and subsequent parade took place without crowds. To add to the eerie nature of the day, the National Guard has been deployed in Washington as a response to the siege at the Capitol Building two weeks ago today. Even the outgoing president chose to boycott the event, adding a cherry on top of an already strange affair.

In the Before Times, the President, Vice President, and their star-studded guests would gather for an inaugural ball to féte the new resident of the White House. This year, however, there will be no ball due to coronavirus concerns.

Tony Allen, the Inaugural Committee’s chief executive, told the Washington Post, “We definitely want to honor the big, broad traditions of the inaugural,” He continued, “But we also want to be sensitive to the realities of the moment, have safety protocols first and foremost.”

This means we missed out on the president and first lady’s dance, cameos from the first family, and a who’s who of the administration’s famous friends and supporters. Personally, I am feeling the loss of Michelle Obama at tonight’s event—after today’s stunning purple outfit (opens in new tab), I can only imagine the power of the gown she would have worn tonight.

Instead, this evening featured a celebratory concert hosted by Tom Hanks. Live moments at the Lincoln Memorial—including a performance by Bruce Springsteen and a speech from the incoming president—were spliced with pre-recorded messages from service members, essential workers, and public figures. John Legend, Demi Lovato, and Bon Jovi also performed.

Zoe Guy is the digital fellow at Marie Claire, where she covers pop culture, hot celebrity gossip, movies and TV. She’s obsessed with Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of The Age of Innocence, anything written by Jesmyn Ward and stan Twitter.