Going to a military dining out? Prepare to have a whole lot of fun. However, dining outs are a little different from the typical balls and galas that you may be familiar with. To help you make the most of this age-old ritual, here are five things to know before your first dining out…
1. DINING OUTS ARE A VERY OLD TRADITION WITH MANY RULES.
Some variation of dining-outs/dining-ins has been around as long as there has been an organized military to have one. They are steeped in tradition and many of the rules of decorum around this night have been shaped by the military’s long history itself.
Your service member will be required to wear his dress uniform and a formal gown will generally be appropriate for dates. The evening will have a structured schedule, and will abide by a list of rules (i.e. “Don’t leave the room without permission,” “No cursing,” “No applauding,” etc). But before you get too hung up on decorum, you should know that…
2. THEY ARE BASICALLY GIANT, FORMAL DRINKING GAMES.
Despite the formal get up, traditional entrances and mile-long list of ‘rules’ to follow, this particular military event is pretty much one big, fancy drinking game. No, really. If you are used to tight-laced military events, prepare to loosen up for this one.
The guidelines of the dining out are loosely enforced by a penal system that encourages way more than its fair share of rule-breaking. Basically: Break a rule and you get sent to the grog to down a glass of it. That’s not so bad, right? Right…?
3. AVOID THE GROG AT ALL COSTS.
Trust me, girls, this stuff is not for the faint of heart (or stomach). While grog was traditionally a mix of hot rum, water, and spices, the grog at dining outs these days is intended to be punishing, and is generally a mix of various kinds of (really strong) liquor.
I had the misfortune of receiving a half-glass of grog as punishment, and even that was more than I could handle without feeling queasy. My advice? If you get issued a punishment, stick to the non-alcholic grog (ours was a mix of OJ, mint, and tabasco sauce). You can always order your own drink of choice at the bar, anyway.
Badgley Mischka Belle of Ballgown // Rent This Dress
4. HAVE A CLEVER LIMERICK UP YOUR SLEEVE.
The prevailing atmosphere around a dining out is one of fun and humor, so don’t be afraid to join in. For instance, when your military member has to request permission for you to visit the ladies room, you are much more likely to be granted permission if he asks in a humorous way.
At our dining out we heard more than one hilarious rhyme begging permission to exit, as well some really comedic approaches to the court-style “grievances” that were announced during the dinner (and settled with grog-punishments). So polish up your inner poet and prepare to laugh!
5. BOOK A ROOM.
Not all dining outs are held at hotels, but if you get the opportunity to make it an overnight event, I definitely recommend booking a room. The grog element of this event can make it hard to predict how much your military man will be drinking, and this way you know you won’t have to drive anywhere at the end of the night. Plus, having a hotel room nearby makes for a fun place to get fancy beforehand.
We had an amazing time at our first dining out and, if you keep these five things in mind, I’m sure you will too. Hoo-yah!