Traditions for military balls include formal wear, a receiving line, a dinner and dancing. Traditions vary depending on the branch of the military and the purpose of the specific ball.
Military balls are formal events, and service members wear their most formal uniform. While there usually isn't a specific dress code, female guests wear formal dresses that reach anywhere from just below the knee to the floor. Male guests wear a suit and tie or a tuxedo.
When walking through the receiving line, couples walk single file with the women in front of the men. Each couple introduces themselves to the announcer, who stands at the front of the receiving line and doesn't shake hands. Each couple continues down the line and exchanges short greetings with everyone. The line typically consists of high-ranking service members and their spouses. A cocktail hour precedes the receiving line, but all attendees should set their drinks down before proceeding through the line.
Dinner usually consists of multiple courses. This is when presentations and tributes to the colors occur. Service members can explain the etiquette for these events to their guests, although one rule of thumb for guests is simply to follow what everyone else does.
Couples dance after the dinner. Formal dances come first and are sometimes followed by contemporary music. Guests should avoid flashy dance moves due to the formality of the event.