Marine Corps Ball Blues


        My husband and I have been together since he went to boot camp, and as such, I’ve been to three Marine Corps birthday balls. I know this doesn’t hold a candle to those wives who’ve been to 10 or 15 of these galas, but three is still enough to have taught me what to do (and what not to do) at the ball.

       I totally understand that when you first meet your Marine, the uniform can dazzle you a little bit. They look very spiffy from the front, and drool-worthy from the back. You settle in to a nice routine of hanging out on the weekends, then before you know it, he’s asked you to accompany him to the Marine Corps Ball.

     “Yay!”, you think, “I get to dress up and dance the night away with a really handsome Marine!”

     You read a few articles, and panic sets in. What do you wear? There’s a ceremony? What do you do? Aaaah!

     First, take a deep breath. Next, know this: the Birthday Ball is a ceremony first, and a ball second. Your actions reflect on your Marine, and can get him in trouble. Here are the basic no-no’s at a ball:

  • DON’T pick out a revealing dress. Think middle school dress code here- nothing high above your knees, nothing halfway down your back, nothing that reveals any part of your belly or boob. You may see women at the ball with revealing dresses, but these women are either hired dates (if you get my drift), or married to someone so high up the food chain- whoops, I mean chain of command- that there’s no one to look down on them. You don’t want people wondering if you’re a hired date.
  • DON’T get drunk. At EVERY ball I’ve been to, there’s one person who gets smashed at the cocktail hour, and ruins the ceremony for everyone by yelling, “OOHRAH!” every time someone says Corps. It’s disrespectful and embarrassing.
  • DON’T pull out your club dance moves. No grinding, no shaking your booty, no shimmying, no krumping or whatever that is. Keep your body parts largely to yourself.
  • DON’T talk during the ceremony. Every year, there’s a part when only the service members are supposed to stand, and one or two dates end up standing too because they weren’t paying attention. Everyone stares at them, and they usually turn REALLY red and shut up.
  • DON’T panic about meeting higher-ups. They can be identified by their white pants (staff NCO’s) or their black uniform tops (officers). They’re usually really nice, and they don’t bite (at least not on the night of the ball).
  • DON’T try to wear your date’s rank. Wives can be bad about this. Just because you’re there with a Staff Sargent doesn’t mean you can be snarky to the PFCs there. He earned the rank, you didn’t. Every wife and girlfriend there is equal.
  • DON’T forget that this is a ceremony. I know I said it before, but it is worth repeating. It’s a solemn time, and the guys are there to remember their fallen comrades, not just to drink and have a nice dinner.

Before you go thinking it’s all doom and gloom, take heart! I’ll have a list of things you SHOULD do at the ball, as well as a dress code guide, in a few days.


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