The dining-in is a formal dinner function for members of a military organization or unit. It provides an occasion for Officers, NCOs and their guests to gather together in an atmosphere of camaraderie, good fellowship, fun, and social rapport. A dining-in truly celebrates the unique bond or cohesion that has holds military units together in battle and hardship. The purpose of the dining-in could be to recognize individual and/or unit achievements or any events which are effective in building and maintaining esprit de corps to include saying farewell to departing Officers and welcoming new ones. The dining-in may also be held to honor one or more distinguished visitors. Whatever it is, the purpose will have a definite impact on determining the conduct of the dining-in and those who run it.
Mr. Vice is the person responsible for the evening. He/she is the first to arrive and the last to leave. He/she starts the cocktail period by opening the lounge, sounds the dinner chimes at the appropriate times, delivers the appropriate toasts and keeps the party moving. He/she is also responsible for testing the main course prior to it being served and announces to the members of the mess, that it is fit for human consumption.
Mr./Mrs. Vice sits at the end of a table or alone at a small table on the opposite side of the room facing the President of the mess. On top of all that, Mr. Vice is essentially the man/woman who keeps the evening entertaining, enforces the “rules of the mess” and creates a light, humorous mood for the evening. Biggest thing to remember here is to keep it tasteful and try to consult with your BC/SCO or whoever the President of the Mess will be. That being said, here are 7 Neat Ideas for Mr. Vice:
1. Arrange for the President of the Mess and others to be served using Barbie plates and pink toddler silverware.
2. Order pizza to be delivered to some unlikely soul in the middle of the feast.
3. Tape a cell phone under the chair of the President of the Mess which will ring during their toast.
4. Put flour in people’s napkins prior to sitting for the evening.
5. If you have non-drinkers, make sure to have an equally disgusting grog (something with sauerkraut and clam juice).
6. Place lemon juice + mint extract in the “unleaded” grog (think drinking a glass of orange juice right after you brush your teeth and multiply that by ten). This tended to encourage people towards the “regular” grog. I’ve seen chewing tobacco and oats in the grog before too…
7. There has to be boisterous horseplay too. One or two planned wrestling matches (i.e. mismatches between a really big guy and really little guy) or contests of strength (arm wrestling, Indian leg wrestling) can get the ball rolling on that.
Mr. Vice is a great gig and a nice opportunity to stand out a bit. Do remember that an “Out” is not an “In”. My experience having been to many of both is that while BOTH should be fun and memorable, the fun and memories that are appropriate for each are probably not quite the same. Usually, for a Dining Out, the ladies will go to no small effort to dress up, etc., and nothing spells disaster like a big glass of red wine splattered over the new dress by “incoming rolls“. So, some well-thought out and understood ROE that are specific to the occasion are advised. Consider, as well, whether or not “non-command” guests of honor will be in attendance and be sensitive to helping the CO show of his/her command in a “good light”. I think the desired outcome is for all to have a GREAT time, and for everyone to think “best ever…can’t wait to do that again next year”, rather than “never again…a bunch of animals…”. You get the idea.