As some of you may already know, today is the Marine Corps’ 239th birthday (happy birthday, Devil Dogs!). My husband and I attended the Marine Corps Birthday Ball last Saturday, and it was definitely an eventful—and awesome—night (especially for our first time going to the Ball). While I have some pretty cool stories to tell, I also have some advice to offer for any other first-timers out there. For the record, this advice does NOT revolve around how you shouldn’t dress with your boobs hanging out—there are plenty of articles out there to give you that military-ball-modesty lecture and this is not one of them.
One of the first things I learned at the Ball was the importance of having more than one method of payment. I left all but my military ID and driver’s license at home, and the only form of payment my husband had with him was his Discover card. Not a good idea. Turns out that you have to pay for the formal pictures before you take them, and only cash, VISA, and MasterCard were accepted at the place where our Ball was held. This might be different at different locations, so just make sure you have more than one payment option on hand when your military ball rolls around.
Another thing I learned is that heels are not the ideal form of footwear if you plan on dancing. I happened to wear the same (fancy) flat sandals that I wore in our wedding, so I didn’t actually learn this lesson from personal experience. I did, however, witness multiple girls on the sidelines of the dance floor who were merely swaying along with the beat or barely moving their feet when they danced. This looked like a completely sucky way to be spending such a great evening, so I advise you to either bring an extra pair of shoes for dancing or just not wear heels at all, if you’re wanting to get jiggy with it (which you totally should).
While at the ball (especially during cocktail hour), I met a lot of new people. At first I barely paid attention to all of the new names that were quickly filling up my seemingly too-small memory, but I quickly discovered that I would eventually run into quite a few of those people at some other point during the night. (And who wants to be asked eight times what their name is?) I learned to repeat the person’s name out loud after meeting them, which helped me remember their name later.
Lastly, I learned that even Sergeants and Majors are humans. Yes, even those scary, high-ranked people with lots of ribbons and metals are mere flesh-and-blood, just like the rest of us. I know this because I witnessed a Sergeant AND a Major pass out during the opening ceremony. The Sergeant was even holding the Marine Corps flag, and it dropped to the ground along with its holder. I also witnessed most of the higher-ups getting drunk, which eventually led to an epic dance-off between a First Sergeant and the Army Sergeant Major of the base (I’m telling you—EPIC!). So, there you have it: valid forms of proof that these seemingly gods are actually humans.
With that said, don’t be intimidated by the high-ranked! Go on up there and shake their hands when you have the chance. All it takes is a proper introduction and a good, solid handshake. My husband and I had the pleasure of hearing some cool stories and some funny remarks (plus some fantastic complements—which never hurts) from some of these officers, all because my hubby decided to go up there and meet these folks.
Got any funny stories or great advice from your experience with military balls? I’d love to hear about them!