This post has been updated.
Night one of inauguration revelry is behind us, and as we sip our coffees and re-live last night’s high points, there’s one observation that we can’t seem to shake. At balls, parties and clubs, everyone seemed to have forgotten about the man of the hour: President Obama. No, there were no cardboard cutouts of POTUS this time, no art exhibition with 900 different paintings of him, no t-shirts emblazoned with his face, in rhinestones, as we saw in 2009.
At Kentucky’s sold-out Bluegrass Ball at the Marriott Wardman Park, the loudest cheers of the night came when a speaker mentioned bourbon, not President Obama, not bipartisan cooperation, not the inauguration.
OurTime.org’s giant GenerationNow party at the Reynolds Center drew twenty- and thirty-somethings dressed in sequin dresses and suits, but there’s no doubt they were politically minded. Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D) and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) drew cheers. But Will.i.am’s message from the stage was not about winning elections, but winning minds: “We did it. But it’s the beginning,” the pop star, whose leather jacket was dotted with buttons reading “Space Geek” and “NASA,” told the crowd. “We have to continue to turn children into technicians, scientists and engineers,” he said, encouraging those in low-income neighborhoods in particular, “instead of musicians and athletes, to become innovators.”
The message was also civic at the Chefs Ball, the charity party at Art and Soul that featured small bites from D.C. chefs such as Toki Underground’s Erik Bruner-Yang and Todd Gray of Equinox. “Modern Family” star Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Justin Mikita had outfitted the staff in bowties from their organization, Tietheknot.org, which supports marriage equality. Chef Art Smith, the night’s host, was proud to talk about the charities the night would benefit, including Common Threads, a local organization that educates children in nutrition. President Obama was the last thing on anyone’s lips -- perhaps because mouths were full of Smith’s chicken and waffles bites.