The party season is baaaack!

Sept. 6

Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center Director Dennis Barrie and his wife, Dianne, are guests of honor at a fund-raiser for the Contemporary Arts Center Legal Defense Fund. There's a reception at a private home and a dinner following in another home. Tickets: $100 to the reception; $300 to the dinner, by invitation; call 955-9600.

Sept. 7

"The Firebird Ball," the 1990 Wolf Trap Ball on the Filene Center stage, is a salute to the Soviet Union. Tickets start at $200; call 255-1940.

Sept. 11

Here's where supporters of D.C. mayoral candidates on the primary ballot will gather to wait for election returns: Dave Clarke, Embassy Row Hotel; Sharon Pratt Dixon, Park Hyatt; Del. Walter Fauntroy, Fauntroy Headquarters, 1625 I St. NW; Alvin C. Frost, the First Congregational Church's social hall, 945 G St. NW; Charlene Drew Jarvis, Washington Hilton; John Ray, Hyatt Regency; Maurice Turner, at Turner's home.

Sept. 12

French haute couture and cuisine are featured at "Une Nuit a` Paris," a benefit for the National Museum of Women in the Arts at the museum. Tickets: $150, by invitation.

Sept. 13

"The Spirit of New Mexico Art Auction," held by the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Party of New Mexico at the Capital Hilton, features items donated by more than 70 Southwestern artists. Tickets start at $50; call 342-1988.

Librarian of Congress James Billington and Marjorie Billington open the exhibit "My Dear Wife: Letters From Members of Congress to Their Spouses, 1791-1944" with a reception for invited guests at the Library of Congress.

Sept. 15

The Hospice Cup IX, a charity regatta sponsored by the Shearwater Racing Club, is a benefit for area hospices. Tickets start at $250 for a continental breakfast and gourmet luncheon aboard an observation yacht, a Southern Maryland dinner and dancing at an Annapolis estate. For the landlubber party at the same estate, tickets are $50. Call 525-7070.

"In Celebration," a fund-raiser celebrating the National Symphony Orchestra's 60th-anniversary season, is being thrown by Friends Assisting the National Symphony to benefit NSO education programs. Events include pre-concert dinners with celebrity guests at private homes, an NSO concert and a post-concert reception to meet conductor Mstislav Rostropovich. Tickets: $125; call 416-8300 by Sept. 10.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' 10th Anniversary Humanitarian Awards Gala honors k.d. lang, River Phoenix, Berke Breathed, Beatrice Arthur and others at the Willard Inter-Continental Hotel. Tickets: $250; call 770-7444.

The 15th annual Chili Bull on the Officers' Club Lawn at Fort McNair benefits Children's Hospital. Tickets: $25 in advance, $30 at the gate; call 452-8352.

Sept. 16

1990 Great Catalogue Caper, including a reception, buffet dinner and dance at Neiman Marcus, Mazza Gallerie, benefits the American Diabetes Association. Tickets start at $225; call 331-8303.

Sept. 17

The Center for Democracy and the Virginia Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution host a dinner for invited guests at the National Archives in honor of Hungarian President Arpad Goncz.

National Trust for Historic Preservation Chairman Robert M. Bass and Anne Bass are hosts of the Constitution Ball, a benefit for the National Trust, at the National Building Museum. Tickets start at $250, by reservation; call 734-0128.

Sept. 18

The Smithsonian Resident Associates Program's 25th-anniversary celebration for invited guests is at the S. Dillon Ripley Center.

The National Endowment for the Humanities' 25th-anniversary dinner for invited guests is at the Willard Inter-Continental Hotel.

Sept. 19

The sixth annual Hispanic Designers Gala Fashion Show & Benefit at the Grand Hyatt features fashions of Adolfo, Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Paloma Picasso and Fernando Pena and others. Tickets start at $300; call 452-0092.

Sept. 21

Project Hope's 1990 Hope Ball, "A Salute to Freedom," at the Washington Hilton features dancing to the Lester Lanin Orchestra. Tickets: $250, by invitation.

Sept. 22

A Country Supper and Barn Dance is given by the Oratorio Society of Washington at the Poolesville home of Austin and Gogo Kiplinger. Tickets: $100, by reservation; call 342-6221.

The Washington Design Celebration is a benefit for Jubilee Housing Inc. and the Washington Architectural Forum. Receptions at the Evening Star Building at Market Square will be followed by dinner and Beaux Arts Ball at the Homer Building. Tickets: $50 (for the ball only) and $150; call 639-5097.

"Duke Zeibert's Evening of Chance" is a benefit for Big Brothers of the National Capital Area at the Galleria at Lafayette Centre. Tickets start at $150; call 556-0844.

Sept. 23

BRAVO! and the Beethoven Society's "Dossier" Challenge Cup and pre-match party at the Potomac Polo Club in Poolesville benefit the Washington Opera and a Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz scholarship program. Tickets: $15 members, $20 nonmembers; call 895-1610 or 363-5313.

Sept. 24

The 18th annual Cultural Awards Dinner of the Recording Industry Association of America for members of Congress and other invited guests at the Washington Hilton features the Four Tops and honors People for the American Way.

The 1990 Hispanic Heritage Awards Gala at the OAS for invited guests honors Pedro Jose Greer Jr., Rita Moreno and University of Houston track and field coach Tom Tellez.

Sept. 25

The 12th annual Ambassadors Ball, a benefit at the Grand Hyatt for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, honors the Washington diplomatic corps. Tickets start at $225; call 296-5363.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Inc.'s 13th annual Fund-Raising Dinner at the Washington Hilton features Rita Moreno, Little Joe y la Familia and the Mariachis Los Coyotes bands. Surgeon General Antonia C. Novello and astronaut Sidney Gutierrez will receive awards. Tickets: $200; call 543-1771.

Sept. 27

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Jazz Reception for invited guests at the Charles Sumner School is followed by the Jazz Issue Forum, which is open to the public, featuring Nancy Wilson, Dianne Reeves, Carmen McRae and others at the Washington Hilton. For information, call 675-6735.

The Institute for Policy Studies' 1990 Letelier-Moffitt Memorial Human Rights Awards ceremony and dinner honors the National Human Rights Coordinating Committee of Peru and Richard Trumka, president of the United Mine Workers. Tickets: $50; call 234-9382, ext. 235.

Washington Cathedral is celebrating its completion with myriad events, including a dinner at the Omni Shoreham. Tickets: $45, by invitation; call 537-6244. The three-day consecration of the cathedral begins with a Festival Evensong at 4 p.m., Sept. 28. Tickets are required. For more information call 537-6200.

Sept. 28

The Congressional Black Caucus Spouses' Evening Fashion show at the Washington Hilton is almost sold out. The show will be repeated Saturday, Sept. 29, at a luncheon at the Hilton. Tickets start at $60; call 675-6735.

Sept. 29

Rep. Ron Dellums (D-Calif.) is the keynote speaker at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Awards dinner at the Washington Hilton. Tickets start at $150; call 675-6730.

"Murder at the Carlyle House" is a mystery and gala benefit for the historic property's educational programs. Tickets: $50; call 549-2997.

"A Night in Casablanca" this year benefits the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. The event, at the National Building Museum, features Junior Cline and the Recliners and the Washington String Orchestra. Tickets: $50 in advance, $70 at the door; call 442-9559. A post-party begins at 1 a.m. at Woolly Mammoth, 1401 Church St. NW. Tickets: $10; call 234-7625.