It was an odd sight for the area at 10th and F streets NW. Outside the blocks-big Woodward & Lothrop, a crowd gathered Saturday night as the store windows seemed to come to life.
On the otherwise deserted street, about 100 people had stopped to watch as a couple danced, 1920s style with flapper and dapper outfits, behind the glass directly to the right of the store's front door. Music blared and men dressed like gangsters stood nearby.
"Razzmatazz!" was the name of the party. It was a to-do for about 350 at $100 a ticket with all the money going to the Friends of the Kennedy Center. Woodies put it on to show off its 1984 Model Rooms, six specially designed themes. And Vanity Fair magazine brought an exhibit of 60 of its photographs and illustrations from the original publication between 1914 and 1936 and since its revival in 1983. The exhibit will be up in the Woodies store for two weeks before it moves to San Francisco.
Tina Brown, editor of Vanity Fair, stepped off the elevator on the fifth floor, where the Vanity Fair exhibit was set up, and was clearly pleased with how it looked.
"Vanity Fair has always stood for great pictures," she said. "And Vanity Fair stands for great pictures now." Although the magazine's offices are in New York, Brown said she'll be spending more time in Washington because her husband, Harold Evans, is taking the job of editorial director at U.S. News & World Report.
Evans, commenting before the Reagan-Mondale debate, said, "The candidates will say what they intend to say, irrespective what questions are asked. It'll be a charm contest rather than a debate."
Representing the Kennedy Center was chairman Roger Stevens. Also in the crowd were actors Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson and director Joseph Papp, who are currently rehearsing "Nest of the Wood Grouse," which opens this week at the Kennedy Center.
Papp said he discovered the play while in Leningrad. After years of "negotiating" with the Russians, he said, he finally managed to get approval to put it on here. According to Papp, the play is a comedy, about a family and about people who are, in the end, just people. He said he's happy about the fact that the play will be running in Washington so close to election day.
"I was glad we got to do it at this time. I felt that this play, in its small way, may bridge some gaps." Papp said he invited Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy F. Dobrynin and Secretary of State George Shultz to opening night. "We could have a small summit at the Eisenhower Theater."
Papp said that although the cast had to rehearse during the debate, it would be taped.
One person who wanted to talk about subjects other than the debates was Robert McNamara, who stood in the pasta line with free-lance writer Sandra McElwaine. He praised the Kennedy Center and remembered a story from 25 years ago.
"I saw Nureyev and Fonteyn dance in the Armory and you could still smell the elephants. They had been there two days before. This city today is very different and this man Roger Stevens has done it all."
Standing next to the chocolate oysters with pearls in them, Papp sipped vodka on the rocks and talked to Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler. She was quick to pipe up about Reagan and the final showdown.
"There's nothing to be nervous about," Heckler said. "Here's a president who has reduced inflation, reduced unemployment and brought pride back to this country."
To which Papp asked with a straight face: "Are you for Reagan or Mondale?"