First published at WashingtonTimes.com on
Jan. 20, 2009, updated today with video.
There are 10 hot tickets in town tonight for sure, but anyone who likes hip-hop was cramming into the Youth Ball for a chance to see Kanye West.
Early on, as President Obama was dancing to Beyonce at the Neighborhood Ball, the Youth Ball was getting crowded.
The attire was more hip and less traditional than standard ball fare, with a ton of short dresses and some of what looked like bridesmaid frocks.
As one of the first performers, Kid Rock closed his set with "Give me the beat boys" and told the quickly filling ballrom at the Washington Hilton they should "celebrate."
The crowd -- mostly in their 20s and 30s -- responded by chanting "Obama, Obama!"
Proving the crowd's Generation X status, when the DJ in between performers chose 1990s hit "Poison," by Bel Biv Devoe, the attendees knew all the words and belted them out while burning up the dance floor.
Prince was another big hit.
Also a favorite was House of Pain's "Jump Around."
Attendees were wind-burned from a day of celebrating on the Mall, but in great spirits and cheering the new president.
"God bless Sarah Palin," one young man said.
The DJ kept announcing the crowd should move farther into the room, and dancers smushed close together.
When they announced "Kanye is almost in position," the crowd cheered wildly.
$9 cocktails were spilling everywhere, but no one seemed to care as they danced faster and closer together.
"Kanye! Yes we can!" the crowd chanted.
Finally he came on, opening with "Touch the sky."
Kanye riffed on his own lyrics, getting big cheers for "Obama, I need you right now!"
The crowd freaked out, shoving, dancing and waving their hands in the air as he did a mix of his best hits.
Here's some video:
Kanye talked about the civil rights struggle in his own family, and got the crowd to chant the new president's name.
He created Obama-centric lyrics to one of his top hits and then transitioned to playing "Love like that."
He kept his sunglasses on throughout the set.
Here's some video:
The man of the hour was next.
"I've been looking for this ball for quite some time," Obama said after he arrived just after 10:30 p.m. and the crowd went crazy with cheers.
He said youth were key to his "improbable" journey, and said it was the energy of young people all across America who worked tirelessly and volunteered and convinved skeptical parents to vote for him that made today possible.
"A new generation inspired previous generations and that's how change happens in America," he said, talking about dedication of youth with Teach for America and the Peace Corps.
He said the world's young people are "imagining something different" such as peace not war and togetherness not bigotry.
"The future will be in your hands," he said, asking for sustained "energy and focus."
The Generation Xers packed to hear him responded with "Yes we can!"
"You are going to make it happen," he said.
After dancing briefly with first lady Michelle Obama, the president said, "that's what's called old school," drawing laughter.
"Have a great night guys, love you," he said.
One man just repeated "Oh my God, oh my God, wow," over and over.
The Fallout Boys lead singer brought the house down by performing their hit "Going down swinging."
"I know this is the Youth Ball, but I have to dedicate this song to one of the oldest people here," he told the crowd. "To my dad, who way back in 1974 worked for Joe Biden."
The mention of the new vice president prompted loud cheers.
— Christina Bellantoni, White House correspondent,
The Washington Times
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