January 19th, 2014
10:49 AM ET
3 months ago

Emotional speech – and the Dougie - mark Michelle Obama’s 50th

Washington (CNN) – After the sun went down, the stars came out for Michelle Obama’s 50th birthday bash on Saturday night – Beyoncé, John Legend and Stevie Wonder among them.

But even the high-wattage crowd couldn’t outshine the evening’s most memorable moment: President Barack Obama breaking out in the “Dougie” on the dance floor.


Guests said the commander in chief and his wife let their hair down during the late-night dance party, which took up the entire State Floor of the White House – including the gilded East Room, the formal parlors, and the ornate State Dining Room. Guests moved about freely, grabbing snacks, drinks and desserts (but no dinner).

Long rumored to be the evening’s entertainment, Beyoncé performed a special set for the first lady and her guests, who included retired basketball star Magic Johnson and his wife, Cookie, actor Samuel L. Jackson, television chef Rachael Ray, and singers Smokey Robinson, Jennifer Hudson, Gladys Knight and Mary J. Blige.

Also spotted at the hot-ticket event: Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg, top Washington chef Jose Andres, fashion designer Michael Kors, tennis legend Billie Jean King and NBC weatherman Al Roker.

Gayle King, the CBS morning show anchor, was among the crowd, though her friend Oprah Winfrey (another Obama friend) wasn’t, because she was attending Saturday’s Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles. King said she would try to hold her own on the dance floor but admitted she only had “seventh-grade” level moves.

Michelle Obama – whose birthday fell on Friday – came decked out in red pants and a red shirt, and her two daughters brought friends along to make the event a family affair.

Guests’ attire ran the gamut: Some wore sparkly gold pants, while others showed up in jeans. All were told to wear comfortable shoes for an evening of dancing - and many listened. Many female guests wore fancy sky-high heels and carried in flats to change into later in the evening.

That probably didn’t come as much surprise to followers of the first lady, who’s known for busting out her dance moves on talk shows with Ellen DeGeneres and Jimmy Fallon, and for encouraging kids to be more active with her Let’s Move program.

"I'm looking forward to hearing old school music,” Jackson said on the way in along with Johnson.

"I'm definitely dancing,” former Lakers star Johnson said. “I'm gonna have a good time. I'm gonna have a ball."

Johnson wasn’t alone, it seemed. Guests leaving the party around midnight said the evening’s highlight wasn’t the superstar performances or the lavish setting – it was the President, cutting loose with the “Dougie” on the dance floor.
Guests also said Obama delivered an emotional tribute to his wife on her milestone birthday.

“He raised the bar for all of us. I don't know how we'll live up to it,” singer James Taylor said on his way out.

The invitation from the White House warned guests about photography, and no cameras were allowed – but musician Herbie Hancock said the president’s remarks were a highlight of the night.

“It was really beautiful and really touching,” he said. “He said something – his voice almost cracked like he was crying. It was just beautiful, a husband speaking about his wife.”


Filed under: Michelle Obama
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Kyle Grimm

    As Americans continue to SUFFER the royalty has a ball!

    January 19, 2014 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  2. B

    All I want to know is who paid for this ostentatious party during these economic times.

    January 19, 2014 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  3. Anonymous

    @B and Kyle Grimm:

    For your information, it happens that President Obama actually draws a salary. They have income from books.
    They pay for their own parties, gifts and all other personal things from their salaries.

    Unlike Congress, he works all year, even while on their vacations that bug your kind so much.

    If you are truly concerned about these "economic times" tell it to Cantor who sets the calendar for
    umpteen vacations he gives to the House. Who pays for their back and forth trips home?
    We do..........and they don't earn half their salary.

    Sounds like a great party to me.

    January 19, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  4. Marie MD

    Where to begin. The President is paid for his service to our country. It's like they are the only First Family to ever celebrate a birthday at the WH. Look at history and see how many parties your demi god Reagan and nancy had.
    I can bet what the teaklans wasted on the government shut down ($24B) that this party was NOT paid for by taxpayer money.
    You want to complain about a party? Try your own teaklan party. Most of us will work tomorrow even though it's the MLK holiday. Congress is probably taking the whole week off just like they take most of the summer off and December plus first week of January off to do nothing.

    January 19, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  5. Len

    Anonymous and Marie MD,

    You are both 100% correct. We are so tired of the GOP and Tea Party folks! Vote them out in 2014.

    January 19, 2014 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  6. Tampa Tim

    I want to know if the republicans are going to pay back the $24 billion from their government shut down, the $2 trillion from the tax cuts for the wealthy, the $800 billion for TARP, the trillion from the drug program, and the two trillion for their unnecessary war.

    January 19, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  7. Gurgyl

    Congress never worked.

    January 19, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  8. shotokan 1

    The power of the vote! use it wisely and you will be happy.

    January 19, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  9. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote OUT the Repub/tea bag majority

    To all the RWNJs out there: Every president holds parties – get over it!

    Heck, GW did while he was illegally invading Iraq, letting bin Laden slip into Pakistan, and crashing the economy.

    Where were all your complaints then?

    January 19, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  10. ThinkAgain - If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote OUT the Repub/tea bag majority

    If you're looking for "royalty" holding a "ball" while the nation suffers, google the RNC meeting in Hawaii February 2010, when they went there to complain about the Obama Administration's fiscal irresponsibility.

    January 19, 2014 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  11. don in albuquerque

    24 Billion lost on a vanity shutdown of the govt. Countless Millions lost during the Iraq War (just lost or stolen). And the GOTP is worried about a party?

    January 19, 2014 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  12. Joseph Mwansa

    The president works and draws a salary and he and his lovely wife can indeed celebrate a mile stone. Please stop being cheap and nasty. Happy birthday Madam first lady. We are proud of you here in Africa

    January 19, 2014 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  13. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    She is gorgeous!

    January 19, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  14. The right wing has lost their damned minds

    I'm glad they had a great time for Michelle's 50th Birthday...Not that often you reach a half of century old..

    January 19, 2014 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |