A 10-ball night,but only one couple mattered

The new President and first lady danced with cheeks touching to the Etta James classic At Last

Written by The Washington Post | Washington | Published: January 22, 2009 11:38 pm

In Obama’s neighbourhood on Tuesday night,Mary J Blige couldn’t stop the tears up onstage. Stevie Wonder was on the keyboard. And when the new President mixed with the crowd,ABC cut to commercial.

Even with those mystery moments,it was a glittering start to a 10-ball night,a night when it didn’t seem to matter that the temperature was less than 28 degrees and the wind was cutting through the thickest overcoats.

Obama launched it with the Neighborhood Ball at the Walter E Washington Convention Center,a party where the new President and the first lady shared the stage for their first dance with Beyonce. Obama,confronted with one of the entertainment world’s hottest babes,kept his eyes on the first lady,Michelle Obama.

“First of all,how good looking is my wife?” Obama said,beaming. He wasn’t the only one feeling frisky. Vice-President Biden gazed approvingly at his wife,Jill. “I may not be able to dance,but I sure like holding her,” he said.

The Obamas,who displayed a kind of electric chemistry during the campaign,danced with cheeks touching as Beyonce sang the Etta James classic At Last. Michelle rubbed his back; he drew “oohs” from the audience by giving her a twirl,then tapped his left foot somewhat awkwardly to keep time. But they really got going once the first dance was out of the way. Obama delivered a rare presidential hip bump to one of the ballgoers who had started dancing on the stage with the first couple. Afterward,Jamie Foxx declared approvingly: “You can tell that’s a Black President by the way he was moving.”

At his Home States Ball — a bash thrown by Hawaii,where he was born,and Illinois,where his political career was born — waves of cheers rose with each observed detail as Obama came into view from behind the curtain.

“Hello,” Obama said. He gave out an “aloha” for Hawaiians,a “what’s going on?” for the Illinoisans. “This is a special ball for us,” Obama said. “It represents our roots… You’re not new friends,you’re old friends.” Then he and Michelle danced to At Last again,this time an instrumental version. They exchanged glances and private giggles.

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