The back yards were the same. The tables groaning under the weight of bottles of liquor and haunches of beef were the same. But the guest of honor was quite different.
Twice in recent years there have been gatherings in Washington's affluent "Platinum Coast" -- specifically, in the suburban-looking back yards of four split-level homes along Verbena Street NW -- in support of an election bid by former mayor Walter E. Washington.
On Saturday night, more than 1,000 people came to the Platinum Coast decked out in freshly-pressed Western wear and little plastic sheriff's badges in support of Mayor Marion Barry.
Barry arrived at around 7 p.m., wearing jeans and a cowboy hat with a feathery emblem in the front and a long plume flowing from the back. His wife, Effi, also wore a cowboy hat, along with a white prairie-style skirt and white high-heeled shoes.
The gathering was still more evidence of how Barry has expanded his political base beyond coalition of young liberals who elected him four years ago.
Those on hand were a potpourri of Walter Washington's old base.
The crowd included Gladys Duncan, a pillar in old-line black Washington society; City Council member Wilhelmina J. Rolark (D-Ward 8) and her husband, publisher Calvin from far Southeast; former Washington administration press secretary Samuel T. Eastman; Charlotte Chapman, Washington's former campaign treasurer; Brent Oldham, chairman of the D.C. Board of Appeals and Review; Commission on Aging chairman Juanita Thornton and William Wright of Capital Cab Cooperative.
The party, to which the press was not officially invited, spanned the back yards of D.C. Department of Recreation director William H. Rumsey (who provided the Western-style decorations and passed out plastic deputy sheriff's badges and cowboy hats to visitors), city official Joseph P. Yeldell, once one of Washington's closest advisers, and their neighbors, Betty and Oscar Ray and Garnett Wood.
"It's amazing what conversions he Barry has made," said Ethel D. Lee, a party cosponsor and a high-ranking Barry volunteer. "It was very difficult to get people to have him in their homes in this area four years ago."
When she had a party for Barry four years ago, she recalled, just 30 people came.
Saturday night all was forgiven. The tables were laden with enormous cuts of roast beef, mounds of fried chicken, hot dogs, and spare ribs, gallons of potato salad and a sea of liquor and soft drinks.
At least four police officers were present to handle the traffic jam in the narrow 1700 block of Verbena Street.
Not everybody drove: Some guests parked at the Carter Barron Amphitheater a mile away and were ferried to the party by shuttle buses.
The crowd also included the three candidates for City Council chairman -- incumbent Arrington Dixon, former chairman Sterling Tucker and City Council member David A. Clarke -- as well as Independence Savings and Loan president William Fitzgerald, former D.C. personnel director George R. Harrod, former elections board director Norval E. Perkins, current City Administrator Elijah B. Rogers, and the mayor's executive secretary, Dwight S. Cropp.
About the only person missing, said one Barry supporter, was Walter Washington himself.