Most units have a ball at least once every other year and many have them annually. I have only attended Ranger Balls. This was my experience with them and while your unit’s ball may be similar, it may not be exactly the same.
The balls for my husband’s unit were held at the local convention center. The location is very nice and convenient for going out to River Street after the ball concludes. Tickets were sold and were pretty inexpensive at $15-$25 each, depending on the year. Dress for the ball was formal with the guys in Class A’s or dress blues and the females in formal dresses.
Of course, for a female, everyone’s idea of “formal” is different. I’ve seen from one extreme to the other at balls. It was always pretty easy to identify which Rangers picked up his date at a bar the night before based on her dress. Most were in floor length dresses though I’ve also seem cocktail length dresses that were equally appropriate. Just remember that you are representing your soldier at the ball. While you can wear a dress that makes you feel sexy, there is a fine line between sexy and trashy. People will talk and you really don’t want to be the subject of the “did you see what she was wearing…” conversations of the following weeks.
His balls generally started at 5pm or 6pm with a cocktail hour. All of his balls provided beer free of charge and had a minimal charge for mixed drinks. During the cocktail hour, a photographer was also on hand for formal pictures. We had these taken at the first ball we attended and never did again. Not really sure why! The guys from S-5 also had tables set up selling Ranger related merchandise.
At the conclusion of the cocktail hour, we entered the ballroom where we had assigned seating. The guys usually have some input on this before the ball so we were always sitting with people who we associated with on a regular basis. A dinner of several courses was served and then followed by ceremonial activities such as the presenting of the colors, playing of the national anthem and reciting of the Ranger creed. Speeches were then given by the commander and a guest speaker. During this time, toasts were made to the President and other high ranking officials. There was also usually a slideshow presentation showing what they had recently accomplished overseas as well as honoring those who were killed in action.
This was followed by the making of the Ranger punch. During this time, Rangers would walk on to the stage and add something to the Ranger punch. The ingredient added represented a conflict that Rangers were involved in and ranged from swamp water to sand. After the concoction was complete, a Ranger from each table would fill the table’s pitcher with the drink. Every Ranger would have a drink as well as any guests who wanted to participate. I tried it and it wasn’t near as bad as I expected it to be.
At the conclusion of the dinner portion, there was a DJ in a different area and a dance floor was set up. The bars would be open again and we always desserts and other snacks that were available in the area of the dance floors. We usually didn’t stay around very long for this portion and opted to head downtown instead. This was one of the few times that Rangers were allowed to be in public with their uniforms so I always enjoyed watching and hearing other people’s reactions to a group of Rangers walking by.
Is your ball a different than what I have described? If so, feel free to send me an email about it and I’ll post about your experience as well.