Bravetta Hassell: Inaugural trip was an unexpected ball for Tulsan
BY BRAVETTA HASSELL World Scene Writer
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
1/23/13 at 3:27 AM
A work trip to Washington, D.C., turned into so much more for Amanda Clinton, Cherokee Nation communications director, who lucked into some tickets to a few of this year's inaugural events including the Official Inaugural Ball held Monday night.
Friends in the D.C. area and some contacts back home gave Clinton tickets to such events as the Democratic Governors Association party where Will.I.Am deejayed, the Official Inaugural Ball and even to a seating area at the public swearing-in ceremony Monday.
"We could see the president, but he was pretty far away," and trees obscured the big screen showing the ceremony, but it was still a great experience, Clinton said. "It was a really special moment for me to hear his plans for the next four years. I think that was kind of emotional, really."
This year's turnout was not the same as President Barack Obama's first inauguration, but "despite the big crowd, everyone was friendly," Clinton said.
Something else unexpected was the brevity of Obama and wife Michelle's appearance at the inaugural ball Clinton attended. Separate from the Commander-in-Chief's Ball, the president and first lady made an appearance for their first dance before disappearing behind a curtain, Clinton said.
When the couple was announced, Clinton said there was nearly a stampede to the area where the two would dance. People dropped their drinks and food, forks, everything to rush over and watch the Obamas take their first dance as Jennifer Hudson sang Al Green's "Let's Stay Together."
This was probably one of the most memorable points of the evening for Clinton.
"The two of them are so clearly in love you can really feel it there. They shared a kiss. It was just a really sweet moment."
And then after the dance, the Obamas were gone.
"It's not like they're milling about the crowd. At all."
Inauguration Ball cameos: Clinton said that she didn't see that many celebrities, but she did spot MC Hammer and Dikembe Mutombo. She'd heard actress Rosario Dawson was there, and she and some of the people she was with were "80 to 90 percent certain" one young woman with dark hair was Aubrey Plaza of "Parks and Recreation," but they left that mystery for others to figure out.
Inaugural Ball fashion: Clinton snapped a few pictures of some party guests.
There were long gowns and short dresses, typical black-tie attire, and bright colors and unique styles one might not expect to see at an inaugural ball - but it all worked, Clinton said.
"Every woman there had probably taken forever to get ready for the evening," Clinton said. "And then we all had to stand out in 30 degree weather for an hour," she added with some laughter. She's talking about the blocks-long line outside of the Convention Center on Monday evening - a small price to pay to celebrate the inauguration and one she won't forget.
"I'm so thankful that I could be here," Clinton said by phone Tuesday ahead of her flight back to Oklahoma. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I don't know if I ever will come back to another one."
She said of the inaugural events as a whole: "It was really important for me to go to that. I'm very into politics and really care about the direction our country is going in.
"The swearing-in was probably the most special part for me. But I'm not going to lie - I'm not going to forget about standing out in the cold for a long time."
Original Print Headline: Inaugural trip was a ball for Tulsan
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, wearing a red gown by designer Jason Wu, arrive at an inaugural ball Monday at the Washington Convention Center. CAROLYN KASTER / Associated Press
Melissa Smith (left) and Cherokee Nation Communications Director Amanda Clinton. Courtesy