Inaugural balls aren't the fairytale occasions people imagine, jaded Washington vet Carla Hall writes in the Los Angeles Times. Instead of a sea of couples gliding past the newly sworn-in president on the dance floor, the galas tend to be a bunch of tired people crammed into a ballroom straining to catch a glimpse of the quickly-passing-through first couple, she writes.
Inaugural ball first-timers almost inevitably leave disappointed, Hall writes. But even knowing what to expect doesn't mean many people are passing up the chance to go to one of this year's 10 official galas. "The inaugural ball is like going to senior prom," said an Obama fundraiser. "I know it will be anticlimactic, but there's no way I can miss it. I don't want to be the only person who didn't go to the ball." (Read more inaugural balls stories.)