Washington, D.C. – With the Jan. 20 inauguration of President Bush, visitors to the capital won’t be able to swing a cat next week without hitting a ball or party.
Although there will be free daytime festivities open to the public during inauguration week, the closed soirees are the hot tickets.
The nine “official” nighttime balls, all sponsored by states’ societies, most set for Jan. 19, command most of the attention. All are closed affairs reserved for the Republican Party faithful, with campaign contributors flying in from all over the country.
There are also boatloads of “unofficial” parties being thrown by lobbying groups all over town, including two late-night entertainment industry wingdings: One is planned by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and the other is by the Creative Coalition, the Hollywood-tilting nonprofit arts advocate.
The Jan. 20 RIAA bash at the upscale H20 club will be slanted toward a young crowd, with a set by Mississippi-based rock band 3 Doors Down.
“We’re honored that the RIAA asked us to perform at their inauguration party,” 3 Doors Down vocalist Brad Arnold says in the party announcement. “It was great that so many people voted this year -e specially young people – and we’re proud to be a part of this event.”
Ticket prices are about $1,000, with proceeds used to pay for the cost of the “serious food, open bar” event, according to an RIAA spokesperson.
The Creative Coalition’s event, also Jan. 20, is called The Ball After the Balls. Macy Gray is the musical headliner. Tickets are also $1,000.
While the RIAA and Creative Coalition bashes will likely be cowboy-hat-free, the Black Tie and Boots Ball, a non-official jamboree put on Jan. 19 by the Texas State Society of Washington, D.C., will be Lone Star State-intensive. It is also the hottest ticket in town.
The ball has been held for years but became wildly popular four years ago with the first-term inauguration of the man from Crawford. Tickets went on sale Nov. 10, and 10,000 have been sold at $125 a pop. Most were sold in slightly less than 50 minutes, according to the organizers. The few remaining tickets, according to a spokesman from online company Great Seats, were $1,300 apiece and heading upward.
A sampling of the event’s talent lineup (on seven stages) includes 2001 inauguration vets Lyle Lovett and Asleep at the Wheel, as well as Clay Walker, Robert Earl Keen, Neal McCoy, the Derailers, the Gourds, Del Castillo and Yolanda Adams.
The state societies also sponsor satellite parties. For example, the Wyoming State Society is hosting a not-so-intimate event Jan. 19 at the 1,500-seat Constitution Hall. Robert Randolph & the Family Band will put the pedal steel to the metal at the function.
This year, the Inauguration Committee is throwing a special Commander in Chief Ball Jan. 20. It will be free to invited men and women of the armed forces and their families and will focus on those who have recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan or will soon be deployed to those countries.
Planners have also announced a Jan. 19 youth entertainment concert that will focus on “community and public service.” It will include music acts, as yet unannounced, as well as videoclips and guest speakers.
Washington will also host dissenting voices during the inauguration festivities. On Jan. 20, the District’s Black Cat nightclub will host a pair of events. Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore will be among those on the venue’s main stage under the Noise Against Fascism banner, while a host of poets will rail against authority during the Black Cat’s Inaugurate This! spoken word gathering in its separate backstage area. Tickets are $12 and $8, respectively.