Yesterday it was buses, not limousines: The participants in the inaugural social drama had to get where they were going fast, and together. The family of George and Barbara Bush, 130 strong, required four buses. Some buses served lunch -- with one fleet providing chocolate-dipped, liqueur-marinated strawberries as dessert. At the John Sherman Coopers in Georgetown, over 100 guests on their way home from the day's festivities had choice seats on the balcony for the fireworks display that set off the night's celebrations. For the GOP, yesterday was prelude to an evening of balls. But for the Democrats -- including former vice president Mondale, who was home by midafternoon -- the postlude had already begun.

Even a Poor Man's Inaugural Party in Annandale last night wasn't really for poor men. It wasn't even for Democrats. The invitation made the casual celebration hosted by Richard Lobb and Jeff Finkle sound potentially interesting: "Persons driving up in Chauffeured vehicles will be frowned upon. Other indications of extreme wealth . . . will equally be treated with disgust. . ." But many of the "paupers" were Republican and proud of it, congressional aides who compaigned for Bush and Reagan and, as 26-year-old Finkle put it, weren't "necessarily anti-reagan -- just anti the price of tickets."

So they brought their own bottles -- "all poor men bring their own soup stones," said Finkle; tasted fondue, water chestnuts wrapped in bacon, and mushrooms royale; and listened to Jimmy Buffett, some country and bluegrass.Only Lobb, 28, wore a tuxedo. Co-host Finkle had donned jeans and a tux T-shirt.

One guest, 25-year-old Steve Bock from Columbus, Ohio, said, "No -- most people here aren't poor. It's just sort of an alternate ball." But Bock had one question which befitted an upper-middle-class poor man's partygoer: "What color was Nancy Reagan's dress? In person it looked bright orange, almost fluorescent, but on TV it looked pink." Bock said, "We were in preferred seats and still couldn't see a thing. But when Nancy Reagan came out you couldn't miss her. We knew Ron was up there somewhere." r