Usher Snaps Pics, Teens Play Dress-Up At ‘Be The Change’ Youth Ball

By Gil Kaufman and Shaheem Reid

Get a behind-the-scenes look at our “Be the Change: Live From the Inaugural” special from a pair of writers lucky enough to be there now!

Gil, 7:40 p.m.: Not that I’m complaining, but after standing outside for eight hours this afternoon for the inauguration, the last thing I expected to do was wait in line in subzero weather tonight for 90 minutes to get into the Youth Inaugural Ball. I’ve been told I missed all of Fall Out Boy’s set. I’d complain, but I think my lips just froze to my teeth.

Shaheem, 8:30 p.m.: As some members of the press wait in a holding area, Geraldo Rivera walks in and tries to leave out a different entrance leading to the ballroom. The security guard stops him. Rivera says: “Sir, I cannot stay here. I’m about to go on air.” Rivera walks out to his destination with no incident. Kanye practices his set. His last piece for rehearsal is “Heartless.” The DJ is playing Alicia Keys right now.

Gil, 8:31 p.m.: I’m inside now. I can’t remember a time when I saw this many young people this dressed up … maybe an episode of “My Super Sweet 16.” It’s kind of nice. They’re chowing on mini-BBQ sandwiches while the sound of the bands soundchecking thumps up through the floor from the ballroom below.

Shaheem, 8:42 p.m.: Usher, Bill Bellamy and Sway are taking photos at MTV’s home base. I also snapped a pic with Usher as he told me about his experience today. He sat up close to see Obama’s speech and was very moved.

Watch “Be the Change: Live From the Inaugural” online now, and come back Thursday for the full performances from Kanye West, Kid Rock and Fall Out Boy. Stick with us for wall-to-wall coverage of the inauguration and of the scenes in Washington, D.C., New Orleans and Kenya.