Last night nearly 2,000 guest in two waves, surrounded the lavishly laden buffet table at the Soviet Embassy and attacked sturgeon, meat puddings, smoked salmon, suckling pigs, and perozky pastry to help celebrate the 62nd anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution.
These annual birthday parties for the Russian Revolution are awaited with anticipation for two reasons: the food, a joy to behold and to eat, and the opportunity to check diplomatic currents by watching who attends and who does not attend.
Food and drink never disappoint at the Russian Embassy's revolutionary party. The diplomacy watching is a much more iffy undertaking.
Last night, as been the case for the last three of four years, the People's Republic of China was represented. Ambassador Zemin Chai was greeted by Russian Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin and quickly moved on to the buffet table. The Russian and Chinese diplomats in Washington have been exchanging visits on their national holidays.
When Secretary of State Cyrus Vance arrived, Dobrynin steered him into a back room to sip vodka and eat at a less crowded table. If there was any serious talk it was open diplomacy with a couple hundred people following into the room.
Henry Kissinger, former secretary of state and now author, who had arrived earlier, joined Vance and the Russian ambassador in a glass-raising toast for the photographers. The three chatter -- small talk -- like business men at a cocktail party, assiduously avoiding any issues like Iran, Cuba, or SALT.
Earlier, on his arrival, Kissinger joked with Dobrynin about references to the Russian ambassador in his book.
"I will give him part of my royalties, Kissinger said.
Among the guests were those who have been attending the Russian parties over many years of changing diplomatic relations.
Former Sen. J. William Fulbright was asked by Dobrynin when he was going to take "that trip to Moscow."
"I've been coming to these parties since the 1950s," the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee recalled. "In the McCarthy days, it wasn't too politic to do so."