Postcard from USMC Ball

Friday, November 10 was a federal holiday in observance of Veterans Day, and it was also the 242nd anniversary of the founding of the United States Marine Corps. At U.S. embassies around the world, it’s the Marines who protect our embassy facilities and everything in them. We owe them (as well as our diplomatic security partners and our host country guards) a debt of gratitude, and everyone in the Foreign Service knows that November means the Marine Ball.

The Marines work all year to raise money for their annual birthday ball; in Canberra, this year’s event was held at Parliament House. That’s pretty amazing in and of itself – imagine the Australian Embassy in DC throwing a reception on Capitol Hill?! More than 450 people from the U.S. Mission to Australia and the diplomatic community showed up at Parliament on Friday night looking fabulous.

For weeks and sometimes months before the ball, women talk excitedly about what they’re going to wear, how they’re going to do their hair, whether their dress fits, where they got it, if anyone wants to trade gowns, where to find shoes and seamstresses and salons at Post, and so on and so on.

I remember in Tashkent ordering gowns online and praying their monthlong journey through the pouch would have them arriving in time. It’s a bit different in Australia because DPO only takes about ten days and there’s plenty of shopping available locally.

We didn’t miss a single ball in Tashkent, where charity balls and women’s group events packed the calendar all season long. Now I have some nice gowns that are “new” again because no one here has seen them. The pics below are from the 2015 and 2016 Marine Corps Balls, which we thoroughly enjoyed.

As you can see, it’s a formal ball and most women wear evening gowns, although you may see a cocktail or hi-lo dress here and there. Men wear tuxedos or military uniforms. I have also seen some men in national dress, primarily kilts.

I booked in at my favorite Canberra salon for an updo, went to get my eyebrows done, had lunch with my husband, and then settled into my bathroom for a major makeup session! I adore the whole process of doing makeup (not only the outcome), and so of course I had to capture a little before and after. (I accidentally did my eyebrows before snapping the before pic, whoops.)

Not to toot my own horn too much, but I thought it came out pretty well. Thanks YouTube! Once we were ready (only five minutes later than planned!), we started off the evening with friends and colleagues at the QT Lounge on the 15th floor of the downtown QT hotel. After a few bottles of champagne, we were ready to hit up the ball cocktail hour.

We summoned an Uber and headed over to Parliament expecting humongous queues at security, but as usual, the Aussies had everything well in hand and running smoothly.

We got in just before a light spring rain started. We were amazed at the beautiful interior, as it was our first time visiting.

When we walked into the ballroom with tremendously high ceilings and more than 50 tables set, my mouth dropped.

What a fabulous party! Obviously #10 was the most fun table too. In all seriousness, I try not to tear up every time our anthem is sung, especially when I am serving overseas. I talked to a lot of people, and although I didn’t get up and really dance with my sad foot, I had a lot of fun seeing my colleagues in such a fun environment where people really let their hair down. Speaking of hair, I got a ton of compliments on mine.

We stayed nearly until the very end, and had to do a lot of recovery the next day. Thank God I didn’t have a flight to Prague like I did the early morning of my first ball!

We drug ourselves out to Braddon’s Haig Park the following evening for a local street food and wine festival. It had rained all afternoon and everything smelled fresh under pine trees and twinkling lights. From Pinot Grigio to Shiraz to Croatian beer, we sampled the wares and brought home my favorite new Riesling. It was a great Canberra weekend.

  8 comments for “Postcard from USMC Ball

  1. fan-cy
    November 12, 2017 at 04:06

    Awesome weekend and you looked stunning :).
    You have no idea how I worry and fret over your Foot!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. November 12, 2017 at 07:21

    That is so nice of you! Only a couple more weeks until I find out whether all these months of antibiotic treatment for my foot worked or not. I can’t wait, wish me luck!


  3. November 13, 2017 at 10:42

    Gorgeous as always!! Maybe a dumb question, but do you have to go all out with makeup/hair for balls? I am fresh-faced all day every day haha but I don’t know if that would be seen as unprofessional in the world of diplomacy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • November 13, 2017 at 15:06

      No, not at all! To each his or her own. Luckily, we still live in a world where we can’t be required to look a certain way to be effective in our jobs. That said, I think most people enjoy looking a little out of the ordinary for such an event. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. MHR
    November 13, 2017 at 22:30

    Hi Penny Postcard! I have been following your blog on and off for a couple of years, ever since I prepared for my first OA. That did not go well, but I tried again and today I passed! Thank you for your OA-related advice, and for sharing your adventures, both on travel and at your posts. I’m sending good thoughts your way regarding your health issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    • November 14, 2017 at 00:08

      Congratulations, MHR! That is huge! Glad you are enjoying the posts and thanks for the well-wishes – I’m sending them back your way for strong hiring.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Enchanted Forests

This Blog is about discovering the magic of forests in every aspect of life from a small plant in a metropolis to the forests themselves


Chimping around the world!

The Unlikely Diplomat

We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls. – Anais Nin

Countdown To Freedom

A blog about health, the keto diet, massage, relationships & travel!

The Mongolian Way

Another Peace Corps Experience

Latitude with Attitude

Exploring the World Diplomatically

Let's Go Somewhere

Choose the exciting life.

Between England & Iowa

Exploring England, Iowa and everywhere in between!

Cu Placere

Joyce Hooley


Foreign Service Blog

Six Abroad

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all." - Helen Keller

simple Ula

I want to be rich. Rich in love, rich in health, rich in laughter, rich in adventure and rich in knowledge. You?

A Diplomat's Wife

just another story

bama in the balkans

Experiences of a Peace Corps Volunteer in Macedonia

Adventures in Macedonia

A Peace Corps Story

Twelve Knots

My Journey to the Foreign Service

Sarah Jones Abroad

I am serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kyrgyzstan, come read about my advetures

Notes From Post

A Diplomat's Life Abroad

Raised in the Foreign Service

40 years later, a TCK looks at the world through the lens of Embassy family life

Around the World in Thirty Years

A little ditty about our adventures in the Foreign Service

What is Kirby Doing?: Stories from life after Peace Corps

Job searching and re-adjusting to life in DC

memories over mohinga

a peace corps memoir

Bembes Abroad

Two People, Two Dogs...One New Country

Sending Postcards Home!

From travels around the world, with love..

Kelsey Schmitt

Travel & Lifestyle

Nomads By Nature: The Adventures Continue

We are a foreign service family currently posted in Windhoek, Namibia!!

Adventures Abroad

tales from a life abroad.


Ramblings about the life of a Texpat.

Emma & Nathan's Travels

Our worldwide travels beginning in the year 2017

Diplomatic Baggage

Perspectives of a Trailing Spouse, etc.

A Foot in Each World

Life, love, education, and adventure in foreign service.

Culture Shock

Staying in the Honeymoon Phase

I'm here for the cookies

A trailing husband's vain search for cookies in an unjust world

Caitlin Jean Russell

Travel Tips, Photographs and Experiences

The Good Things Coming

A blog about people, places, and ideas

The Blog of Travel

Motorbikes, dogs and a lot of traveling.

A Traveled Life

The Trailing Spouse

My life as a trailing husband of a Foreign Service Officer

In-Flight Movie

Our Adventures in the Foreign Service

Audrey is (a)Broad

Things I do and see while living and traveling outside the USA


“Travel far enough, you meet yourself.” -Cloud Atlas

PM Adventures - Travel & Life Abroad

%d bloggers like this: