At the International Ballroom Center in the Washington Hilton Hotel, supporters of Charlene Drew Jarvis were trickling in to a vast and largely unpeopled space furnished with four bars, two television sets, two oscillating pink-lit fountains surrounded by hors d'oeuvres, and a podium backed by an arch of red and white balloons. The candidate had not appeared.

In her stead, sort of, however, was Faye Jarvis, who was connected to the candidate by having in common the same ex-husband.

"They call me the wife-in-law," she said with highly civilized amusement. She had come in from her home in Columbia to work a precinct in Ward 4 for the woman she describes as "someone I admire and my good friend.

"People say, 'Are you crazy?' But you have to rise above some things. Our kids care about each other and that's what really matters."

Off on the dance floor, her daughter, in a white hat and white Jarvis T-shirt, was breakdancing with a handful of other youngsters to music supplied by disc jockey Mike Hall. Hall was alternating jazz, rap and soul.

"A little bit of everything, like the crowd," Hall said. In the ballroom before him stood chatting couples of every age, race and social condition, perhaps highlighted by a quartet wearing T-shirts promoting the "Parris Glendening Drug Free All Star Softball Challenge."

At 11:05 Jarvis entered the room and walked the mostly empty distance to the podium surrounded by a cheering, sign-waving throng of about 350. She mounted the stage and, flanked by Effi Barry and the Rev. George Stallings, declared to much applause, "I just came down to tell you it's going to be a very long night. It's not over till it's over. The only person still moving in this election is me."

She returned to her suite upstairs, but at 12:30 a.m. reentered the cavernous ballroom and before 30 or so remaining supporters conceded the election.