With the music and the Hispanics, the politicians strolling through the streets, the faces from mant continents and the inevitable dose of dissent, the celebration of Adams-Morgan Day yesterday between 18th Street and Mintwood Place on Columbia Road was just that - an Adams-Morgan day.

People came not only from the neighborhood, but from Virginia and Maryland, from George Washington and American and Georgetown universities. Estimates of the total varies with police lieutenants judging about 3,000 and festival coordinators putting it considerably higher.

While the arts dominated the two stages that blocked the street, with performances by the Gala Theater group, the Dance Project and a number of bands, out on the pavement mimes mixed with council candidates, vying for attention, joining in the relaxed conviviality.

As Steve Feldman, a guitarist with the Machu Pichu combo put in early in the day, "If anything is going to happen in this city, it's going to happen here."

Between acts, disco music blared from massive speakers in front of the Columbia Station bar and restaurant. Residents of the tenement next door took their steps with a kind of Sunday afternoon fever, stepping, bumping and grinding to the heavy rhythus.

"That's terrific," said one man who had come across the bridge from Connecticut Avenue. "It looks like something out of 'West Side Story.'"

At the height of the festivities a group of 50 demonstrators marched through the crowd. Police had made them remove the sticks from their signs, lest there be some violence, but confrontation was far from anyone's mind.

The demonstrators were there to protest against the real estate speculation that has been rampant in the neighborhood for the last several years and has resulted in the eviction of several local residents who rented their homes.

While everyone seemed to be having a good time - even some of the protesters returned later to join in the festivities and survey the stalls selling everything from clothes to ice cream - for many there was a certain irony in the idea of a celebration.

"It's very nice," said Bibble Ledbetter, who used to be a cook at Columbia Station, "but I'm also celebrating my last day in Adams-Morgan. I can't afford to live here anymore."

"I think this is a beautiful neighborhood," said DeClario Murchison, a disabled veteran watching from the steps of his apartment building at 1844 Columbia Rd, "but I think this session they got together here stinks. The speculators and businessmen put this on for one thing, to bring in more business for themselves, and as soon as the landlords find out they can get more money they'll move you out.

"Of course we're enjoying it," said Murchison, "but the same people that are celebrating today will have you sitting out in the street tomorrow."

But as the sun went down behind the massive apartment building at 1841 Columbia Rd. - which was reportedly sold for close to $1 million earlier this month, and where the tenants, both business and residential now face an uncertain future - most people wanted to put such worries out of their heads.

"This is the best thing that's happened all summer," said economic analyst Faraubundo Marti, leaning against a shade tree. "I live at 16th and Columbia and I meet a lot of people. Today I'm seeing all of them once again. That's what I like best. We need more of this."