Despite the bitterly cold winds and what was no doubt an exhausting weekend for many, guests flocked to P.O.V. at the W Hotel late Monday night for the Electronic Arts Learn.Build.Create event. Partygoers in tuxes and evening gowns snacked on mini pancake stacks and cones of French fries, hit the open bar, and snapped increasingly silly pictures at a photo station, which were projected onto a monitor above the doorway. In attendance was John Legend, who, perhaps tired from his weekend of appearing at every inauguration event in existence, opted to stay in a roped-off VIP area; a security guard posted by the entrance shook his head at us when we surreptitiously snapped a couple of photos. Dressed in a tux, Legend chatted with friends and canoodled with his fiancée, Chrissy Teigen; later he posted a picture on Instagram of the two of them at their next destination, the White House. Pharrell, wearing a white shirt buttoned all the way up, a gray cardigan, and a fedora, greeted Legend with a one-armed hug. At one point he grabbed a mike and addressed the crowd, making pro-Obama statements to cheers from the audience, then obligingly posed for pictures with fans. Malin Akerman showed up clad in a sequined gown that showed off both her baby bump and her rather large back tattoo. The party continued into the wee hours of the morning, likely ensuring long lines at Starbucks this morning.
The energy was high at the Convention Center last night as the city feted President Obama’s second inauguration. At least a thousand guests gathered in their black-tie finest to hear great musical acts and to welcome the President and Vice President to another four years in Washington.
The focal point of the warehouse-like space was the stage in the middle, decked in patriotic flags and the presidential seal, which throughout the evening hosted legendary musicians such as Stevie Wonder singing classics including “Very Superstitious” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” Alicia Keys belted a goosebump-inspiring rendition of “Girl on Fire,” changing the words to “Obama’s on Fire.”
Partygoers revved up when band du jour Fun played their hits “Some Nights” and “We are Young.” They served as a perfect opener for the President and First Lady to take the stage, dancing to Jennifer Hudson’s version of the Al Green classic “Let’s Stay Together.” Later in the evening Vice President Biden and his wife, Jill, danced to Jamie Foxx singing “I Can’t Stop Loving You” by Ray Charles.
The evening felt less like a ball and more like a music festival, as most partygoers refrained from dancing in favor of eagerly waiting for the next famous act to take the stage. Maybe it was the general youth of the crowd—but we suspect it was reverence for the once-in-a-lifetime evening.
During an inaugural party at the Madison Hotel on Sunday night, a woman asked if she could sit at our round table. We said, “Of course.”
When we looked closer we realized it was Star Jones, who has been many things but is best known as a celebrity lawyer and television personality. She said she was visiting Washington to take her nephew to the swearing-in ceremonies and the official inaugural balls. But what she wanted to talk about was what the media had been talking to her about.
“Oh my, every where I go here, all reporters want to ask me is one question—what do I think of Mrs. Obama’s bangs? Over and over that’s all I’ve been asked,” Jones said. “I have no opinion on her bangs. Don’t they know black women don’t pay any attention to that sort of thing? We change our hairstyles all the time.”
What we wanted to ask her was what she thought of Barbara Walters taking a fall at the British Embassy, bumping her head and ending up in a local hospital. Walters and Jones have had an on-and-off friendship, but before we could ask her, she announced she didn’t what to be interviewed. So instead we introduced her to Mayor Vincent Gray, who appeared impressed.
Washingtonian photographer Andrew Propp braved the cold and crowds on the Mall Monday afternoon to document the second swearing-in ceremony of President Obama. See a few of his favorites below.
As sumptuous party venues go, it’s hard to beat the Folger Shakespeare Library. A long hall with vaulted ceilings that’s filled with Elizabethan artifacts gives way to a richly appointed library graced by a bust of the Bard and a huge stain glassed window.
The library gets rented out for many A-list Washington gatherings. But Monday evening, it was occupied by a set unused to being fetted in high style—public school teachers, administrators, and their advocates. The Bytes & Books ball honored educators for their efforts to put technology into classrooms. The noted guests included school board association executives, Obama administration officials, and a former executive director of the National Education Association. Representative George Miller of California was singled out for his support of education technology.
The ball was put on by the National Coalition for Technology in Education & Training. It’s a non-partisan group, but there were a lot of vocal Obama supporters in the room. The National Education Association was the top sponsor.
After a cocktail hour in the main hall, guests were treated to a buffet dinner in the library that featured roast pork, beef, and (something we didn’t see anywhere in town this weekend) a mac and cheese bar with toppings, including fried onions, bacon, and pulled BBQ pork. Shakespeare wrote, “A surfeit of the sweetest things the deepest loathing to the stomach brings.” He didn’t have a pork and mac and cheese bar.
The Aloha State welcomed attendees in classic Hawaiian style, offering them leis as they processed through a saber arch and onto the concourse surrounding the ballroom at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel for the Hawaii State Society Inaugural Ball.
Society president Kohono Mossman described the tenor of the evening perfectly in his welcome address: “a celebration in true Hawaiian style—with good music and good food.”
The standout among the stations of sushi, dim sum, and butler-passed trays of hors d’oeuvres were the whole roasted suckling pigs, carved in front of guests at stations in the front of the ballroom.
After an enthusiastic kickoff to the festivities by the Kamehameha Schools Warrior Marching Band, the evening continued with musical acts that included the Aloha Boys and Amy Hanaiali’i Gilliom, a five-time Grammy nominee for Best Hawaiian Music Album.
Among the evening’s distinguished guests were US senators Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, and Representative Tulsi Gabbard.
Last night, the Artists & Athletes Alliance hosted a party for ServiceNation at DC Coast. It drew a smattering of notables (including former Redskins defensive back Fred Smoot, actor Omar Benson Miller of 8 Mile and CSI: Miami fame, vice presidential sons Hunter and Beau Biden, and congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard) for speeches about the importance of military service paired with a raw bar, passed snacks, and drinks.
Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden opened the program as soon as he arrived by thanking brother Hunter for joining the Navy Reserves at age 41, as a public affairs officer. He went on to remind the group why he cares so much about American soldiers, particularly those returning from combat, saying: "The fallen angels return home through our home state of Delaware." He was followed by newly minted congresswoman Gabbard, a combat veteran from Hawaii who continues to serve in the Hawaii National Guard. After Gabbard's remarks, several attendees came up to thank her for her service, call her an inspiration, and ask to take her picture. The house was packed—so much so that it got hard to move around or take pictures that weren't close-ups of nearby people—but most partygoers didn't seem to mind.
Sometimes the guest list is what sets one party apart from all the others. That was certainly the case with the late-night inaugural soiree hosted Saturday at the Madison Hotel by six Washingtonians who have infinite connections and influence: Ann and Vernon Jordan, Buffy and Bill Cafritz, and Vicki and Roger Sant. The Jordans and Cafritzes hosted a similar party four years ago, and it was the first glimpse anyone in Washington got of the Obama inner circle, in particular presidential senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and then-Social Secretary Desirée Rogers.
With a second inauguration, that curiosity factor is gone. This time around, in a room where just about every guest was connected in one way or another, it was interesting to see actress Ashley Judd, who arrived with her friend Mark Ein. Attending this particular party was as much as saying that yes, she is serious about running for the Senate in Kentucky. So far she’s said she’s taking a look, but there were people at the party (not the least of them Jordan) who can help her get from a Hollywood acting career to a Washington political role.
There was no shortage of politicos to help power the festivities at the 2013 Green Inaugural Ball. And you know what kind of event and crowd you have collected when Bill Nye the Science Guy gets as loud a reception as Will.i.am. The environmentally conscious partygoers who packed every floor of the Newseum in search of something more meaningful than just another glass of Champagne were rewarded when Vice President Joe Biden appeared for a brief visit. He received loud ovations when he told the crowd that dealing with climate change would be a priority for the Obama administration’s second term.
Throughout the evening, conversations were just as likely to be about fighting global warming as about who made the gown someone was wearing. Those who came for the party and not the politics were not disappointed in the least. Revelers were seen taking advantage of the Newseum’s photo booths and staging their own faux news reports at the NBC News Interactive Newsroom (because nothing says reporting live from a fake hurricane like doing so in a tuxedo or a ball gown).
The journey from the lower level to the VIP suites up top was all the more enjoyable because each of the three main glass elevators featured its own bar. The signature cocktail of the evening was the OM-bama, a sweet and dangerous drink that packed a lot of flavor and punch into the mini Mason jars it was served in. The culinary offerings made a pitch to be more memorable than the celebs who took the stage. The menu was overseen by the crew from the Source, Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant within the Newseum itself. That restaurant’s signature Kobe beef sliders and sesame miso cones with Carolina yellowfin tuna tartar paired nicely with sushi rolls, butternut squash soup shooters, and a host of other passed hors d’oeuvres. Those in the main VIP lounge were treated to a delicious raw bar of sustainable seafood, courtesy of Choptank Oyster Company in Cambridge, Maryland. Piles of lobsters, crabs, clams, and oysters were on offer, and guests took a load off on custom benches made from recycled wood and the doors from pickup truck beds.
New York, Maryland, and Delaware shared the stage Sunday night at the Fairmont Hotel, hosting an inaugural ball together for the first time. “We weren’t expecting the same crowds as four years ago,” explained Richard Schrader, director of the New York State Society. It wasn’t hard to see New York’s stake in the hotel’s downstairs rooms, where attendees could nibble on the state’s famous snacks and treats, such as Schrader’s favorite, Antoinette’s sponge chocolates. But a pair of glamorously dressed New Yorkers also got a taste of Maryland’s cream of crab soup. “Cream of what?” we overheard them asking as chefs ladled out samples.