FedPoem: A Ball for 40,000 People

A poetic tribute to inaugural gatherings.

Put on your red dress, baby Ya know we're goin' out tonight Put on your red dress, baby Lord, we're goin' out tonight And-a bring along some boxin' gloves In case some fool might wanna fight Puttin’ on my ‘rmani suit, baby, With a finely made white tie ‘Gainst your red dress, baby, It’s gonna look so fine And we’ll head down to 9th Street For the Convention Center jive. Just forty thousand, baby Will be joinin’ us tonight, Such a cozy ball, baby To toast Obama’s might! If magnetometers clear us, We’ll be dancin’ oh so tight. He’s savin’ dough, sweet baby With just one big ball tonight, Down from ten last time, baby, But I’m wonderin’ if it’s right To call this thing a ball When a mob scene is in sight.

FedPoem: Our poet-in-residence was amused when the Obama inaugural team announced there would be only two “official” inaugural balls—one for 4,000 honoring the military, and another for 40,000 people—twice as many as can fit in the Verizon Center for a Washington Wizards game. It seemed the White House was trying to have it both ways: projecting frugality by cutting the number of balls from 10 in 2008 while at the same time selling tickets to a vast mass of dancers. The bard reached back in time for inspiration from the great Tommy Tucker, who recorded his enduring hit, “High Heel Sneakers,” in 1963.

The first verse, below, is from that song.