Hoping to hobnob with Oprah Winfrey, belly up to the bar with Bono or schmooze with the incoming secretary of something or other next week?
Your best bet is to score an invitation to a party that is private. Even better, a party so off the list of official Washington that only the insiders know about it.
Sure, by attending one of the 10 official inaugural balls, one might get a glimpse of the Obamas as they twirl around the dance floor for about 30 seconds.
Does that make up for a watery drink and an hour spent talking to that nice couple from Moline?
Not really, said Chuck Conconi, a longtime Washington social reporter and current senior counselor at Qorvis Communications LLC.
“There is a lot of excitement surrounding this inaugural because this president is so young,” said Mr. Conconi. “But in reality, you see very few real Washington power brokers at the official balls. They are mostly at the private parties. In all the years I have been doing this, I don’t actually recall seeing anyone I know at an [official] inaugural ball.”
Mr. Conconi recalls one of his first inaugurations, in 1989 when George H.W. Bush was sworn in.
“I was reporting for ‘Nightline,’” he said. “I remember standing on the floor at the Omni Shoreham. There are people wandering around on the floor. It is mobbed with people, and there is nowhere to sit down or get a drink. Everyone is dressed up, but it is mostly folks from Toledo or Sacramento or Phoenix. They are all in town going, ‘Wow,’ but really you have spent a miserable evening.”
This year’s list of inauguration festivities might be the longest Mr. Conconi has seen in nearly 30 years of Washington coverage.
While 10 “official” balls on Tuesday is the most numerous since Bill Clinton’s 14 in 1997, it is really the rest of the dossier that takes up so much ink.
It seems anything with a cheese platter and an e-vite list can call itself an inaugural ball. You want special interest groups? Tuesday’s lineup includes the Sikh Inaugural Ball, National Inaugural Jewish Ball (featuring music by Paul Shapiro’s Ribs and Brisket Revue) and the People’s Inaugural LBGT Gayla.
Dying to do some celebrity sighting? There will be a plethora of opportunities - but again, not at the official balls. If you want to party with Sting, Jay-Z or any other A-listers, your best bet is to cozy up to someone well-connected and who already has plunked down thousands of dollars for his spot.
The Creative Coalition’s Gala Inaugural Ball at the Shakespeare Theatre’s Harman Center for the Arts will feature musicians Sting, Sam Moore and Elvis Costello. Alas, tickets, even at $10,000 for the bronze package, are long gone.
Washingtonian editor-at-large Garrett M. Graff said the Creative Coalition party would be his No. 1 choice for celebrity watching, but even the media aren’t likely to hear actress Anne Hathaway whispering into movie director Spike Lee’s ear.
“This will be the event for celeb spotting, although the press is going to be shocked when they’re held only on the red carpet,” he said.View Entire Story
Karen Goldberg Goff has been a reporter at The Washington Times since 1992. She currently writes feature-length stories on a variety of topics, including family issues, pop culture, health, food and technology. Follow Karen on Twitter.
Stephanie Green is an arts and culture reporter for The Washington Times and, with Elizabeth Glover, the co-author of Green and Glover, the paper’s personalities column. Before joining The Times, Stephanie was a reporter for the Alexandria Times and a contributing writer and editor of Capitol File magazine. Her work has also appeared in Washingtonian. Stephanie worked on C-SPAN’s 2006 ...
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