Reprinted from yesterday's late editions

"Was there ever a moment when I was not worried that we'd get the extension (for the ERA)?" mused Gloria Steinem as she stood backstage between her chores as mistress of ceremonies for Sunday night's ERA gala at the Washington Hilton.

"No. Well, that's not quite true. The morning of the vote I was not worried. And then I got worried because I wasn't worried."

Anxiety gave way to cheering, clapping and noisy self-celebration Sunday as 1,500 women (and a springkling of men) showed up in the main ballroom to wind up the annual NOW conference held over the weekend. The theme of the ERA's men's - and children's, for that matter, judging from the number of small persons who raced up and down the aisles during the performances.

"We have tonight a real celebration," began Steinem before introducing the night's first feminist singer, Jane Sapp. "And we've come a long way, in terms of entertainment, too. I remember when all the song lyrics were a distraction, geared to keep us (women) away from life and struggle. But we've grown up a lot since those days of romantic songs. Marriage may be the only adventure left open to the middle class."

Beside Sapp, singers Kristen Lems and Margie Adam kept true to that spirit in a presentation of songs that poked humor at any number of sacred romantic cows. Following in that spirit, director and producer Claudia Weill was also on hand to present a special screening of her film "Girl Friends."