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Top 10 Things to Know About an Army Formal Ball

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Army formal balls are a part of military life that many women dream about. Many spouses refer to the ball as "grown up prom." Going to a ball can be such an exciting experience. Soldiers of all ranks attend the balls, normally unit specific, and each MOS has its own special traditions. For the most part the balls are very similar and the same code of conduct is expected. Common sense dictates being on time, but it is also recommended that you arrive early. Give yourself time to maneuver the ball location, get familiar with the locations of the rest rooms, park your car and check any items you may not want to crowd the ballroom with.

1.     Dress Appropriately: Military will be instructed on what to wear. Civilian women traditionally wear knee length to floor length formal evening gowns. The key here is to wear something tasteful. Dress for your body type, remember you will be meeting your soldier's bosses, this is a formal event. Traditionally the civilian male will wear a dark suit or tuxedo, khakis are not appropriate for this event. Your attire directly reflects your soldier. Dress accordingly.

2.     Maneuvering the Receiving Line: Skipping the receiving line is considered bad taste and disrespectful. The receiving line is often near the door. The first person in line often announces the name of the guests. The announcer does not shake hands. Ladies go first; keep a hand free for shaking, and the conversation minimal. Do not have cigarettes or drinks in your hands while going through the receiving line.

3.     Posting of the Colors and Retiring the Colors: Civilians should stand quietly and follow the colors as they are being posted and retired. Once colors are posted the male will seat his date and stand behind her chair until everyone at the table is seated. After closing remarks the colors will be retired, same rules apply.

4.     Speakers: There will be at least one speaker at the ball. Make sure you phone is on silent, or turned off, during the speech. Go to the restroom before or after the speaker, never get up during his presentation.

5.     Toasts: Toasts may be done to honor specific members present. There may also be a silent toast to honor the missing in action and prisoners of war.

6.     Tables of Remembrance/POW/MIA Table: There is often a table set aside for those military members who cannot be present. There may be a solemn ceremony conducted to honor these brave soldiers who are missing in action, prisoners of war, or killed in action.

7.     Cell Phone Manners: If possible do not bring your cell phone to a military ball but leave it in the car. If you must have your cell phone on your person remember to silent it during the presentations, toasts, and speeches. A phone ringing in the middle of a solemn remembrance can ruin the mood and dishonor those being remembered.

8.     Dancing/socializing:  Dancing should be reserved for after the retiring of the colors. Dancing is a big part of many balls. Remember that there are high ranking military personnel present. This is a formal ball, not the dance floor at a local club. Keep the dancing to PG-13 rated or below. Socializing is a big part of the ball; just remember to conduct yourself in a responsible and respectful manner.

9.     Designated Driver: If you plan on drinking at the ball make sure you have a designated driver, taxi or some other form of transportation for the evening. Many times the ball is held at or near a hotel. It is not uncommon for soldiers to reserve rooms and walk to the hotel after a ball. Be responsible and safe, don't drink and drive.

10.  Bring Your Camera: The most important factor is to have fun. Make new friends, bond with your old ones, and take lots of pictures. Military balls are part of the military life that brings forth memories that will last for years to come.

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