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Glamour at last: Marine Ball

Ah, the Marine Ball. Every year embassy employees get the opportunity to dress up and celebrate the US Marine Corps with a ceremony, dinner, and dance party in an elegant venue. It’s the one event almost nobody wants to miss and the most glamorous night of the year.

Clearly, it takes some preparation to go to a ball. There’s the question of who to invite and share a table with; which dress to wear; where to get hair and make-up done; how to find a baby-sitter; and arranging transportation.

This year’s Marine ball in Yerevan (they’re held all over the world) was definitely worth it. The venue was a big step up from last year when it was at the Marriott hotel and—don’t worry, dear taxpayer—still affordable (the event basically pays for itself).

The Latar Hotel Complex by night creates the kind of fairy-tale setting I only know from movies. Once you enter the gates you drive up to a set of curved, grand stairs leading to a balcony with a wide-open view of the city.

Inside, we found that the lobby was a bit chaotic because the embassy had installed metal detectors right next to the photo-op stairs. But we waited patiently for our turn because a photo is an absolute must (last year we almost forgot and got it on the way out). I will add our picture to this post once I get it.

Pictures taken, we proceeded to the dining/dancing hall to sip on champagne and whiskey. It was only once the dinner started that I understood why our tickets hadn’t cost more than they did­: they’d economized on kitchen staff.

The appetizers were typical for an Armenian-style dinner: cold meat and cheese platters, and vegetables. The vegetables, however, were uncut. Plates and plates of whole peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes were doled out without any explanation.

After the initial surprise, we had a good laugh at our table and decided to dig in. I’m a vegan, after all, so I cut vegetables every day. Looking around the room, however, I noticed that other tables mostly elected to leave the produce untouched.

Immediately after the food and the ceremony—a speech, slow-motion flag marching, and a malfunctioning video­­—the music commenced. Guests flooded the dance floor and stepped, spun, salsa-ed, and line-danced until one in the morning when, after drinking a few vodka shots with the bartenders, we tumbled into a taxi and called the night a success.


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