No, There Will Be No Inaugural Ball This Year

President Joe Biden’s inauguration looks very different from prior ones. For starters, crowds at the capital were scaled down to prevent the spread of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, while thousands of troops were deployed for security following the breach of the Capitol Building. And the fact that the previous president boycotted the ceremony broke tradition too. But while some longstanding inaugural customs, like the oath-taking and the national anthem, remained, other ones like the inaugural ball, were nixed.

“We definitely want to honor the big, broad traditions of the inaugural,” the Inaugural Committee’s chief executive, Tony Allen, previously told The Washington Post. “But we also want to be sensitive to the realities of the moment, have safety protocols first and foremost.” As a deadly pandemic rages on, and after the attack on the Capitol sparked security concerns, forgoing the fête sounds like the reasonable decision.

Without the post-ceremony gala, usually held the night of the inauguration ceremony, we’ll be missing out on sweet moments like the first dance between the new president and first lady, cameos from famous guests, and displays of luscious evening wear. After all, the event has brought forth similar memories through the years: First Lady Jackie Kennedy stunned in a Ethel Frankau-designed white cape; President Bill Clinton played the saxophone; Beyoncé serenaded President and First Lady Obama with “At Last.” But such moments for the Biden-Harris administration will just have to wait.

In lieu of a ball, there will be a primetime celebration honoring the new president and VP at 8:30 p.m. ET tonight. Hosted by Tom Hanks, the program Celebrating America will feature appearances from the newly-inaugurated officials as well as musical performances from John Legend, Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato, Bruce Springsteen, and more.

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