Naval History and Heritage Command
A 13 October 1775 resolution of the Continental Congress established what is now and has become the United States Navy with “a swift sailing vessel, to carry ten carriage guns, and a proportionate number of swivels, with eighty men, be fitted, with all possible dispatch, for a cruise of three months….” After the American War of Independence, the U.S. Constitution empowered the new Congress “to provide and maintain a navy.” Acting on this authority, Congress established the Department of the Navy on 30 April 1798.
In the year 1972, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt authorized official recognition of 13 October as the birthday of the U.S. Navy. Since then, each CNO has encouraged a Navy-wide celebration of this occasion which is held at every command ship, squadron and submarine “to enhance a greater appreciation of our Navy heritage, and to provide a positive influence toward pride and professionalism in the naval service.”
Ah, it’s that time of year again. The time when sequins are encouraged and Rent the Runway’s stock goes up. Nothing but good times for both enlisted and officers in the United States Navy. That’s right my friends, it’s the Navy ball.
Whether you love it or hate it, look at it as mandatory fun or The Most Fun, we here at Navycrow.Com care about your well being and want you to not only have a great time, but make it through the night with both your dignity and marriage intact. The before party, the Ball and the after party have a life of their own and each has its own importance and quiet rules we like to call them in order for you to have fun, not come off like a complete Jackass and have a pretty good time at the same time. Because nothing says opportunity for disagreement than alcohol + pressure + uncomfortable shoes + being hungry whilst waiting for that banquet and ceremony food you know isn’t coming until after all the toasts in the land so be patient and enjoy the moment. The US Navy Ball is the one time you can have a great time with a mixed crowd of Sailors.
For me, personally? I love a good Navy ball. The pomp, circumstance, gowns, dress uniforms … bring it on. Have a great time!
Here are 10 Navy ball Do’s and Don’ts to get you through the night.
1. DO have an introduction game plan with your spouse or date. Our rule is that if my spouse doesn’t introduce me it’s because he can’t remember the name or is not thinking and I introduce myself. Otherwise it’s up to him. Discuss it beforehand and have a plan – your spouse might assume you don’t want to meet the leadership, but it’s a good thing to do. It can;t hurt with someone’s career. It works in the corporate world why not in the United States Navy.
2. DON’T be a wallflower. You can’t enjoy the game from the sidelines. Easier said than done. Well maybe. Even as the world’s most extroverted extrovert, in a room of several hundred people where you don’t know a soul, it’s natural to want to cling to your date. Remember those at prom sitting alone by the wall. Don’t be them. Talking among the other wall flowers and picking apart gowns and haircuts isn’t the definition of a good time. Find a friendly face at your table, admit you know no one and go from there.
3. DO enjoy a night off. At least you don;t have to be on the quarterdeck. You have a gown (or suit!) or a tux on! You look good and you feel good and it’s fun to be out on the town. Raise a glass to your babysitter and your Uber and Lyft driver cause you are going to need one.
4. DON’T do shots. Slurring your words is never a great impression. Know your limits and follow them. Pace yourselves.
5. DO get your fancy on. Shop for the Navy Ball. Wear that long gown with all the sparkles. Rent a tux. Try that up-do you watched seven times on YouTube. You have a reason to dress up – enjoy it! But see through materials and showing everything can be a turn off in a professional setting where dignity should be maintained.
6. DON’T be a walking wardrobe malfunction. Keep it PG. Maybe a little PG-13. But not R and from those pics all over the internet certainly not X. Remember the wives falling all over the flow with their legs up well don;t be that one or that date. You want to be the joke on the ship? Oh no, please, no R. If you wouldn’t want your mom or mother-in-law to see you in it, put it back. Classy goes a long way.
7. DO go into it wanting to have a good time. You can put the fun in mandatory fun. It happens only once a year and you are in the US Navy so have fun. You can learn a lot, meet new friends and participate in centuries of tradition all at the same time Sailor. It’s a great opportunity to experience the traditions of the Navy, you’re with the one you love, and if nothing else, it’s a night out.
8. DON’T fight with your date. Oh the stories. You might remember the food you might even remember the names of a few senior enlisted but everyone will remember the fight with Geena when she slapped her date over a fight that broke out on the dance floor. Don’t be Geena and don;t be her date. Even when he leaves you at the table to “go get a drink” and is gone for 45 minutes because he ran into someone in line that he hadn’t seen since a deployment three years ago (hypothetically speaking of course!), take a time out from any possible quarrels. Roll with it.
9. DO soak it all in, and be respectful. Raise your glass for the toasts, listen intently to the speeches, and above all, be reverent during the presentation of the Missing Man Table. Remember the Sir and Ma’am etiquette and learn about the history and heritage of the US Navy because even if this is a one time thing take it all in.
10. DON’T be afraid to be yourself. Love to sew and want to make your own vintage creation? Craft away. Have a killer move for the dance floor? Go for it. You be you, my friend — especially if you’re having fun doing it. But don’t describe your exploits as if you were the most eligible bachelor in New York and that you just purchased your 3rd winery in Napa Valley. You don’t live the life of Mark Zuckerberg and that is ok. We can’t all be like Mark but we can be even cooler and as a Sailor in the US Navy that should be enough because that is very cool.
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