On U Street, more New Year’s than new era

January 20, 2013

(Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post)

Inauguration? What inauguration? Saturday night on U Street brought a mood that was closer to a New Year's Eve than the jubilant, celebratory Obama love-in of four years ago. I saw a handful of people wearing Obama buttons and ski hats, plus some guys on the sidewalk selling reusable bags bearing the likenesses of the president and first lady, but everything was largely apolitical.

Long lines snaked outside of almost every bar, Ben's Chili Bowl had a large sign telling customers it was cash-only, and the joyfully spontaneous "O! Ba! Ma!" and "Yes We Did!" chats of 2009 were conspicuously absent. That said, the mood was festive. Moby, whose 2009 party at the 9:30 Club was cut short by a multi-block power outage, put in a killer set that started with his 1999 hit "Natural Blues" and kept the crowd grooving with hands in the air. But at the bar, there was no talk of Obama or politics: It was all about the music.

Fritz Hahn has covered bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram.
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