After my Marine Corps Ball post last week I received quite a few emails with more questions on the Marine Corps ball. One of the most frequently asked questions, aside from what to wear, is what the Ball is all about. Why do they have it? What is it about? Why are those guys standing up and why do I have to stand up? So, before that wonderful date in November, please read this and hopefully, it will help answer a few of those questions.
Can I go dance now? And a few other points
Dinner can be before the Ceremony or after. I've seen it both ways. Also, the wine may or may not be paid for. Most commands do their best to give each table at least two bottles of wine. The food quality is really dependent upon where the ball is. Most hotel balls seem to have decent food, but honestly, the Birthday Dinner I had at Mar4Com in Virginia Beach, VA was the finest.
The stuff on the table? Yes its shwag. Most commands will give you a set of glasses... Because you know, Marine's like to drink. HaHa. Some of the gifts are really great like a lazer engraved statue of Iwo Jima I got one year. Usually the command will give you a challenge coin, I think there was only 1 year we didn't get one. By the end of the evening, if its on the table (the center peace) flowers, flags, etc. it's all fair game and can and should be scarfed up.
The entertainment varies. My favorite balls have been those where the local base band has played. It is amazing how talented our Marines are! Most can play much more than just "Semper Fidelis." Some units will hire a DJ. Overall, the goal is to get you out on the floor dancing. And don't worry if you can't dance. The idea is to have fun and not to look like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
If you want to have your picture taken, my advice is to get their early. Most photographers won't stay much past 22:00 and the line usually forms well before the ceremony begins. But also bring a camera and take pictures. You never know what you'll see.
As for the rest of the night, just have fun. You're going to be amazed at how nice people are and how beautiful everyone looks. We all worry and fuss about our dresses before the evening, but by 23:00, no one really cares (and you're feet hurt anyway). This is a glorious night for Marines and one that gives us the opportunity to celebrate our title so enjoy it.
And finally - a word to the wise. Three years ago I went to a wonderful ball where the local law enforcement was waiting right outside the hotel like vultures as the Marines poured out. The number of DUIs that evening was unprecedented including an 18 year major crashing his car into a drainage ditch and almost killing himself. If your Ball is at a hotel, get a room there. If you're not able to stay in the same facility, get a cab. Don't ruin the best night of the year.