What Is a Military Ball?

MichaelSvoboda/E+/Getty Images

A military ball is an annual formal function hosted separately by each branch of the military. There may be times, such as holidays or other special occasions, where an additional ball may be held during the year.

Enlisted personnel and officers are invited to attend the military ball for their branch of the military. These balls are often held on the local base and are for that group of people. Spouses and significant others may attend the ball with their enlisted partner. The military ball is a formal event. Military personnel dresses in formal uniforms. Significant others are expected to dress in a tuxedo or a formal dress. Women attending the ball are encouraged to wear a conservative formal dress, one that is either floor length or at the knee and does not show an excessive amount of skin. There are different sections to a military ball including a cocktail hour, receiving line, dinner and dance portion. The cocktail hour is when guests are encouraged to mingle. The dinner has multiple courses, during which there are toasts and traditions are observed that are specific to each military branch. Guests are required to follow a printed program and respond correctly to each toast or tradition, including standing when the American flag is presented.