Shrugging off the exhaustion of a 100-party weekend, Inaugural Washington, pulled its furs back on yesterday and dashed once more into tight-scheduled celebration. Intimate it was not, as 8,000 Distinguished Ladies were feted at the Kentucky Center, Vice President-elect Bush and his family made 15,000 new acquaintances at a museum on the Mall and the scent of 1,000 bratwurst floated elsewhere over commingled ladies and gentlemen of the presidential transition. Gala, it was.

No pressing the flesh for George Bush and his wife, Barbara, yesterday, at least the flesh of the multitudes.Instead, every 12 minutes at the vice president's reception in the Museum of American History, the Bushes and various members of their family (the children took turns, and Michael Reagan appeared once) would step out from behind a curtain onto a raised platform. "I wish I were out there shaking your hands," the Vice president-elect apologized to a crowd of several hundred, "but today is a very fast track."

So fast, that organizers of the traditional reception estimated that they moved between 15,000 and 18,000 people in the 3 1/2 hour period. Every time a fresh crowd of several hundred accumulated, Bush and party would emerge like some kind of Black Forest Clock.

When the Bushes weren't on stage -- where the backdrop was the giant Star-Spangled Banner that inspired Francis Scott Key -- they were in the Hall of Every-Day American Life shaking another group of VIP hands for the 12-minute intervals. These included diplomats, members of Congress and campaign workers. Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin -- summoned over the weekend by Secretary of State Edmund S. Muskie, who protested the Soviet statements on the hostage crisis -- said, "Business is business. We're still friends. I'm accredited to this country for 20 years. I hope I'll continue to be."