- The Washington Times - Monday, October 5, 2009

Ever since former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, went on the hit television show “Dancing With the Stars,” his friends back in Washington have grown some happy feet, too, or so it appeared from our vantage point at the Meridian Ball on Friday night at the old-school glamorous Meridian House in Northwest.

The Meridian International Center, which has promoted international understanding through exchange programs and cultural diplomacy since 1960, holds its ball every fall as its largest fundraiser for the year.

We first spotted Rep. Norm Dicks, Washington Democrat, passionately twirling his wife, Suzanne, around the tented dance floor while a deejay belted out hits from Prince, Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga for the guests.

It’s not every day that you see a politician boogieing with such abandon, especially while wide-eyed gawkers look on.

“Where did you learn to dance so well, congressman?” we asked the frisky couple.

“We’ve been married for 47 years,” came the reply from Mrs. Dicks.

And we thought it was the champagne.

Meanwhile, inside the house near a jazz band was the Director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy Carol Browner, elegant in a black staples gown and sporting a French twist that showcased her swanlike neck.

She, too, was not the least hesitant to bust some moves with her husband, Thomas Downey, with whom she danced ballroom style.

Like the Dickses, she’s had lots of practice, as well.

“I learned to dance with my sisters growing up,” she said.

Not far away, we spied Rep. Rick Larsen, Washington Democrat, and Rep. Buck McKeon, California Republican, in a cozy huddle.

When we informed Mr. Larsen that someone from his delegation was showing him up in the dancing department while he stood idle gabbing, he laughed and said, “I’m sure he’s [Mr. Dicks] doing enough dancing for all of us.”

Not long after, we, indeed, did see Mr. Larsen and his wife Tiia getting down, but with regret, we will have to give the higher score to Mr. Dicks.

A little too stiff, Mr. Larsen. Try a few more glasses of wine before you hit the floor next time.

Talking to Mr. Wright

The swanky downtown restaurant Oya opened it’s doors to the hip philanthropic set Friday for a glitzy fundraiser hosted by actor Jeffrey Wright and his friend, neo-soul musician, Maxwell.

Proceeds went to the Taia Peace Foundation, a nonprofit named after the Taia River in Sierra Leone and created by Mr. Wright to build roads in the Kailahun District of that nation.

During remarks at the event, Maxwell said he had been to the White House that day. When we asked about his visit, he said, “It was amazing,” as he was whisked away to prepare for his concert later that evening at the D.C. venue, DAR Constitution Hall.

Maxwell didn’t have the opportunity to meet President Obama at the White House, however, since the president was flying back from Copenhagen, Denmark, where he was making the case for Chicago to host the Olympic Games in 2016.

We asked Mr. Wright for his take on the president’s hometown losing its bid. “Chicago is an extraordinary town. Chicago will be an extraordinary town with or without the Olympics,” Mr. Wright said. Then he added, “I would have loved to have seen the Olympics come to Chicago. I’m sure the president would have, as well. But Rio’s not a bad trip to make either, so in the end I think we’ll all win.” See you in Rio, Mr. Wright!

To contact Stephanie Green or Elizabeth Glover, e-mail [email protected]

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